Monday, January 05, 2009

Rafa rages amid Stoke stalemate

That was a bad weekend at the office. In the run up to the match, Graham Poll backed up Rafa's comments on Fergie, which was all over the news. Those wise after the event will say that it cost us points and maybe the title. Bullshit I say. We've come out with rubbish performances all season, long before Rafa said anything about the incontinent Scotsman. There was nothing in his statement that I have a problem with. Many in the media such as Alan Green and Oliver Kay have backed him up. By coming out with his rant Rafa has set and changed the news agenda. All of the talk last week was of Steven Gerrard. Not anymore. Was Rafa trying to take the pressure off his captain?

The Arseblog has a post on limited teams playing for a draw which is worth a read. I think that Stoke were good value for their draw here. They played to their strengths here and tried to frustrate us. It worked and very few of our players came out with too much credit. Lucas was ineffective coming in for Xabi. But he was well worth his place after some good performances recently against Bolton, Newcastle and PSV. Dirk laboured but didn't create a whole lot. He really should have done better with his header from a Riera cross at the start. Stevie nearly won it at the end when he hit the woodwork twice. Rafa came in for loads of abuse for his selection but this is almost the same team that hammered Newcastle in the last league game. He gets stick when he rotates and stick when he doesn't.

So we're still top, but for how long? If Utd win their games in hand they will go top. We can still do it but it's looking less likely. We'll probably have to win at the theatre of prawns now which isn't going to be easy. And we need to get back to winning ways against the BS in the derby this weekend. Hopefully Torres will be fit to start this time. He looked a bit rusty against Stoke but the extra week of training should help him. They will be without Fellaini and any sort of strikers. Moyes has a terrible record against us with only 2 wins in 9 matches since Rafa's arrived. Hopefully that trend will continue at Anfield.
Xabi wasn't fit enough for the Stoke game but should be ok for the Derby, which is a boost.
Stoke midfielder and former Red Salif Diao is a big Rafa fan.

Olly Kay in the Times chairs a debate on Rafa's genius. The opinion in these kinds of articles tends to vary wildly depending on the most recent results.

Guillem Balague has an interview with El Nino on his website. Whatever you think of Balague, I think a pinch of salt is needed with whatever he says, he gets good access to players and managers. Balague suggests that Glen Johnson won't be making his way to Anfield. He also reckons that we are not interested in Angel Lafita of Deportivo, who's been linked to us in the Spanish press. Another youngster that we've been linked to is Grenoble playmaker Sofiane Feghouli. Utd are after him now so I would imagine that is the end of that, given that we don't have the finances to compete with them. German teen Marvin Pourie is leaving the Academy to return to his homeland and has signed a deal with Schalke 04. I hope we secured a percentage of his future sale clause because he was quite highly rated. Voronin could also seal a permanent move back to Germany soon, which would swell the coffers by a few million. Renato Agusto of Leverkusen is being linked with a move to Anfield. I can't see us having the £10m+ required to buy him unless we manage to sell a few players soon. Very unlikely. Setanta suggest El Zhar could be on his way to Malaga on loan.

Could Theo Walcott be on his way to his boyhood club next year? I can't really see it happening as Arsenal would surely sell him rather than let him go for free in 2010. The kid is a boyhood red and would be a perfect fit for the right hand side but this all pretty hypothetical as I think Arsenal will sign him up to a new deal soon.

Just as he was establishing himself as our first choice left back, Insua has received the call from Maradona and is heading off with the Argentine under 20 team for the South American youth tournament. On the topic of left backs, Rafa says that Dossena is going nowhere. Some reports have been linking him with a return to Italy but the boss says that's a non starter.

Tony Barrett in the Echo finds flaws in Stan Collymore's logic. Not too hard to do.

It seems that Hicks and Gillett have secured a 6 month extension on their bank loan. I don't think this is much of a surprise as word was out before Christmas that they would be able to get extra times from the banks.

Ian Ayre has been looking into an Indian academy and having a tie in with a reality tv show. Sounds like a bit of a publicity stunt but it should boost our popularity with the billion or so in the subcontinent. There may even be a decent footballer or two among them.

6 comments:

JJ said...

Worrying times with Rafa's contract eh chief. In fairness to hicks and gillet they could point to dossena and keane when it comes to transfers autonomy.

Mal said...

Rafa could point to Danny Alves, Vidic, Ramsey and Walcott in relation to transfers that got away. Maybe if he had full control rather than going through Parry, we'd have them now.

JJ said...

Good point boss, consider me served! Alves would of been fantastic when you look at what he's done since. Sid Lowe has him marked down as 3rd best player on the planet at the moment. Plus Vidic was available for 3 million when rafa wanted him.

Speaking of guardian scribes, this kinda sums up my only frustration with rafa this season: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2009/jan/12/liverpool-rafael-benitez

Mal said...

I'm not the biggest Paul Doyle fan. He seems to have a big problem with Rafa. He advocated Liverpool fans walking out of games when the team wasn't playing well. If he was at Istanbul I'd imagine he'd have left at half time.
But I will admit he does have a few points there. Dirk was playing well earlier in the season but isn't playing well now and should be dropped. Rafa never drops him regardless of form. I like Dirk but I would drop him now as he's not offering much penetration against the mediocre teams like Stoke.

Buckley said...

okeydoke?

Mal said...

Yes, fine thank you.