Thursday, January 29, 2009

Great Expectations

We only managed a 1-1 draw with Wigan. And I have lost count of how many times we have dropped two crucial points this season.

Firstly, I felt like I have been screwed by Astro. I waited until 3.45AM to switch on the TV, fully expecting the game to be shown live. I mean, every Liverpool game is an important game for the fans, so no reason why I should not have this great expectation.

When I saw a match I did not care less being shown live on espn, I quickly changed channels to Star Sports and then panicked when Liverpool game was not even shown there. I even checked TV3 and some other channels and rightly got very disappointed. Thank you Astro for making me pay RM100+ a month and then making me feel like a fool for the second time right away. The first being the payments I make to you and the second for not checking the programme.

I then sat in front of the PC and started 'watching' the Live Gamecast. I felt the line-up was okay except for Benayoun and Lucas. I started to curse Benitez. But after Benayoun scored our goal in the 41st minute, I  felt then the line-up was justified and in a way apologised to Rafa. Maybe I overestimated Wigan and clearly Rafa knows best. After sending my last sms to Jo, a friend whom I feel was also in some ways screwed by Astro, I went to bed at halftime.

Imagine the disappointment I felt when checking the score upon waking up. My anger swelled when I saw it was a penalty conceded by Lucas. Granted that I did not watch the game (I am kicking myself because I could have watched this game live on the internet but forgot all about it) but still this is a player, alongside Benayoun, who have really, really disappointed me personally throughout this season. I then saw a few SMS from Selva, another fan friend, saying that the fans all over the world are equally devastated and are blasting Rafa for the poor subs.

Yes, this ranting is about me. A fan. And it is always about us fans really. Why shouldn't we be disappointed or angry? Maybe we wouldn't feel so much annoyed if the situation were like the last few seasons when the expectation was not so great. At this moment, I don't think even a piece by Paul Tomkins will make me feel okay. He is usually more level-headed in his analysis and makes enough sense in looking at the glass as half-full. 

But not today. All the talk about we would have gladly taken at the start of the season this 'success' of being in this position behind manure by two points in January just does not make sense to me now. Nor how Rafa is still building the team or fergie did not win anything in his first 6 years at manure or we have won the CL under Rafa. It is difficult to remain positive.

It all boils down to the great expectations we have had so far this season. It is not easy after 19 years of waiting. Fans see this season as our only legitimate claim for the title. Rafa said it so many times of how important all the games were, including those that we faltered in. And again before this game he said that he is only thinking of this game and not the game against Chelsea this weekend. Then he plays the Lucases and the Benayouns. We all do trust Rafa because he is a good manager, but his popularity is slowly diminishing. And if he does not deliver something this season, fans from around the world will go on a witch hunt (not that they have not started) and Rafa might find himself in the same boat as the american owners.

Don't get me wrong, I support LFC all the way. Win, lose or draw, I will continue to support the only team I have supported since I was a kid. And the club is bigger than everyone else. The managers and players come and leave, but the fans will still be around. So, the fans are bigger than the managers and players in my book. And the fans do not like it when they are being screwed. And their disappointed and anger are fully justified. But mind you, that doesn't mean that they are not behind the team.

Is the hope of salvaging something this season still there? I guess so. But my great expectations, which have been dropping not so quickly these past few month,  just took a huge plunge. As a friend told me today, we might even miss the CL next season. I shudder to such thoughts!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ref Gone Loco

Today's game left a bad taste in the mouth. The 1-1 draw against Everton is not the disaster. Being equal on points with manure still requires us to beat them before the end of the season, as would having 2 points more.   That's it if we believe it is going to be a two-horse race until the end of the season.

The disaster is how the game was officiated. I was not happy with Rafa's lineup eventhough I felt it was enough to win us the game, but the ref made me more unhappy with his dubious calls throughout the game.

Pathetic sums it all up.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rafa: Why we love him

This is really a gem!

Found it here:

Raging Rafa fires fury at Fergie

by Ben Blackmore , 09 January 2009

Rafa Benitez has launched an extraordinary attack on Sir Alex Ferguson, claiming the Scot is the only manager who thinks he is above the law.

Benitez was speaking ahead of a huge weekend at the top of The Premier League, which could see Liverpool go six points clear with victory at Stoke - live on Setanta.

Click here for details of how to get Setanta Sports on Satellite, Freeview or Broadband for live coverage of Stoke v Liverpool from 5pm Saturday.

The Liverpool boss gave a staggering reaction to Ferguson's claims that Manchester United have been the target of a tough fixture list, before going on to slam the conduct of United's staff when influencing referees.

"I think they are nervous because we are at the top of the table," began the simmering Spaniard.

"I want to be clear. I don't want to play mind games too early. I think they want to start. I will say some facts so it's easy to talk about this...

"On November 1, Manchester United played against Hull and Mr Ferguson received a two-match touchline ban and was fined £2,000 after the game for confronting Mike Dean and for improper conduct. 

"We then started the Respect campaign and started with Mascherano's sending off at Old Trafford. Steve Bennett was the referee then, and he was also the ref when they played against Wigan and he could not see the handball from Rio Ferdinand. He didn't give a penalty and they won the game and won the title.

"I think the same referee, Mr Bennett, will be in charge for the game in hand against Wigan. During the Respect campaign, Mr Ferguson was in fact charged for improper conduct for comments made against Martin Atkinson and was not punished. 

"He is the only manager in the English league that cannot be punished for these things."

Benitez, armed with a notepad full of points, then turned to Ferguson's moans about the fixture list, which has seen United play away from home after every Champions League game this season - as well as playing the 'top four' all away from home.

"The second half of the season, they're playing at home against all the other teams at the top of the league and I think this is a fantastic advantage," continued Benitez.

"At Christmas time, United played on the 29th instead of the 28th, I don't know why. The rest of the teams didn't and we played away at Newcastle 42-44 hours after Bolton at home. He was not complaining this day or thinking about this.

"His behaviour with referees, the Southampton manager, he knows how Mr Ferguson works. He was very clear the other day. It's a fact and I'm not playing mind games, I am talking about facts. 

"If he wants to talk about fixtures and how we can all be in the same position on a level playing field in England, there are two options. 

"If you don't want more problems, do the same as in Spain. They draw the first part of the league so all the teams know who they play against and, in the second half of the league, it's the opposite. Everyone knows. After Sky and Setanta have the right to choose their games on Saturday and Sunday, they will choose them and it'll be the same for everyone. 

"Mr Ferguson won't be complaining about fixtures so maybe the other option is for Mr Ferguson to be organising the fixtures in his office and sending it to us so everyone knows and nobody will complain...

"So talking about football as I want to finish with this and the mind games. We know what happens every time we go to Old Trafford and Mr Scolari needs to know to use zonal marking against the staff of United. 

"They are always doing man-to-man with referees, when they go near the bench and especially at half time when they walk close to the referees and are talking. 

"So all the managers need to know only Mr Ferguson can talk about fixtures and referees, all these things, nothing happens. You need to know I am talking about facts and not mind games or pressure. These are things people can see every single week."