Friday, February 27, 2009

We Are Number One!

Two exciting news today. Parry is going to leave at the end of the season and Liverpool is officially the Number One ranked club in Europe.

Rick Parry has always been accused of being one of the culprits in the poor performance of LFC in the last twelve years. If that were the case, then good riddance that he is getting the boot. Those who have been after his skin will therefore celebrate this news. And I bet there will be plenty of that starting today. Let's hope whoever that is replacing him will come with better ideas, especially bringing LFC to the Malaysian shores. 

Now, the important news of the day would definitely be the fact that we are ranked Number One in Europe. Apparently the win in Bernabeu was the key to this achievement, Real Madrid being a quality side. And the last time we were at this spot was in 1985! Clearly due to Rafa's presence and our consistency in the CL for the past 5 years. Not only has he been very astute business wise, but also he has ensured continued income from the CL. And this accolade comes automatically I guess. Hail Rafa!

UEFA's latest rankings: 1 Liverpool FC (114.077), 2 Chelsea FC (110.077), 3 Barcelona (109.403), 4 AC Milan (109.306), 5 Arsenal (101.077), 6 Sevilla (100.403), 7 Man Utd (99.077), 8 Bayern Munich (93.664), 9 Lyon (90.576), 10 Inter Milan (87.306).

The rest could be read here: 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How many English teams have actually beaten Real Madrid at the Bernabeu Stadium? Apparently before last night loss to Liverpool, Real Madrid was only beaten once by Thierry Henry's goal for Arsenal in 2006.  So Benayoun's goal last night means a lot to LFC and EPL.

We managed to contain and make Real Madrid look like an ordinary team although their form in the La Liga has been stupendous in the last months. No coincidence here. Imagine if Gerrard and Torres were actually fit.

The win also helped Rafa's cause in the saga of his new contract. We do wonder who could have started the rumour before the match of his intention to quit LFC/his dismissal this weekend. It would be mindbogglingly insane to kick Rafa out now since he seems to be the only sane entity around in LFC setup. For the past five years, he has ensured our qualification in the CL, which means more money in the coffers. Remove him now and LFC would be in chaos for the next few seasons.

The award for our worst performer on the pitch last night must go to Riera. Granted that he assisted in the defensive works, but he really fumbled going forward. I actually started to count of the number of times he lost the ball either for showboating or loose passes but after a while gave up. Too many to keep count. Not to mention of the number of times he strayed upfront.

One of the reasons I am extremely jubilant for the win last night is because of some comments this guy made before the match.

His post-match comments was a lot more different though. I guess he underestimated Liverpool pretty badly. Just like the many poor journalists before the match.

Monday, February 23, 2009

To Hope

Last night's result against City was like a sucker punch. Being 7 points behind manure now means we need manure to lose 3 games including the one against us in March. Even two losses and one draw on their part is sufficient for us. Provided we win all our remaining matches. Mathematically speaking of course.

But we all know this kind of calculation can be all nonsense in the end and we might suffer from more heartbreaks.  Because then we will always be hoping that we win all our remaining games and if we don't, we will be heartbroken. It also means that we will also always be hoping for manure to start losing games and everytime they don't, we get more heartbreaks.

We will all rue the many games we were held to a draw by lesser teams this season. In fact, it was almost similar last season. And we will be reminded again and again that in two games, losing one game and winning another is 3 points while not losing both but drawing both is only 2 points.

The easier way is to stop hoping altogether. But the problem would be whether the remaining games will be enjoyable enough. Especially when knowing we could not stop manure from winning the title when we could have. After all, any other team except manure. 

For me personally, it would be a bonus if we do win the title this season. Like other fans, I will still root for us to win all the remaining matches. If it is fated that we lose the title by a single point to manure, it will definitely be a bitter pill to swallow. I have already planned to exercise a media blackout if that were to happen. 

Today, since I knew I will be spending the whole workday in the fields, I went in a Liverpool T-shirt with the biggest Liverbird on its chest. Each time the hundreds of manure supporters (Chelsea and Arsenal supporters are a wee bit quieter nowadays) asked something about last night's game, I thumped the Liverbird while uttering 'Win, lose or draw, I will never walk alone!' That shut a few mouths right away.

This is the last stanza from 'To Hope' by John Keats:

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veil'd face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o'er my head!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Yet Another Fiasco

We read today, yet again, how Rafa Benitez is hardheaded in refusing to sign a new 16M contract. We are told that Rafa's refusal is because he disagrees to certain terms in the contract that doesn't allow him total control of players transfers.

I don't know whether to believe these journalists or not in their assessment of the situation. On one hand, I believe that the manager should be in full control of players coming in and going out of the team. After all, the manager is always measured with his success as his yardstick. It is his head that will roll at the end of the day if the teams fails. Hence, Rafa's demands if it were true, is justified.

On the other hand, knowing how the majority of the journalists hate Liverpool's guts and would love to see us fail, I want to believe that this is another attempt to further destablise LFC. With so many important league games and CL games around the corner, these stories is going to hurt us even more.

Rafa's latest comments towards the so-called expert pundits, ex-players or otherwise, was another gem. We all know how many of them should go to coaching school and learn the basic to really understand what really goes on behind the scene.

Playing a tired Torres in the last 15 minutes so that he would be against an equally tired defense (rather than starting him when he would have been against fresh defense), in which he scores, was a masterstroke. And it was Rafa's decision by the way. And all the expert pundits and journalists who condemned Rafa throughtout the game, before Torres winning goals ensured another 3 points for us, should all start commenting on the game of congkak!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Blame Rafa

Whatever happens at the end of this season, this game will be remembered by all fans throughout the world. And just like in so many other games earlier in the season, the players showed tremendous intent and workrate in this game against the so-called minnow Portsmouth. And to win the game after going behind twice and scoring in the last minute could be considered as the performance of a championship material. At least it was the talk earlier in the season.

Some of us might be tempted to go after Rafa's decision to rest key players ahead of an international break. But we all know the gamble he took by fielding the second bests for this game. It is not a norm that Rafa decides to play a yet-to-mature Ngog alone upfront and a defender to support the midfield. Some might say the lineup was as crazy as it could get, which the majority could not rightly agree more.

Watching the game develop was very frustrating indeed, just like some of the recent games in which we were held to a stalemate. Conceding a goal when we dominated while fielding so many defensive players on the pitch was quite a bummer.

I caught a glimpse the smirk on Crouch's face when they were leading and was immediately reminded of the comments he had supposedly given yesterday, in which he agreed with Keane's lambastings of Rafa. Okay, Keane has a case since he has been known as a prolific striker before coming to LFC (although saying things like he would give his medal away if Liverpool won the league this season is not so nice). But from an unknown Crouch who was helped by Rafa's patience which eventually ignited Crouch international fame? He should be thanking Rafa! Some players suffers from amnesia faster than us fans. Anyways, it was karma when it was Crouch's backpass that led to one of our goals. That was satisfying for me at least.

If we had drawn or lost the game, Rafa would have been further grilled by every Tom, Dick and Harry. It was reported by Spirit of Shankly that George Gillett, in an exclusive interview, is not behind our manager as we would have been made to believe. And he has blamed Rafa for LFC losing the top spot to manure due to our bad form of late. Imagine what a loss to Portsmouth would have done to Rafa, who has yet to agree terms in extending his contract.

For the common fans, all we want to see is Liverpool winning matches. The win against the Chelseas and the Manures were great. This win against Portsmouth is equally great, although the way it was done leaves those with weak heart with a weaker one. And it would be the motherload of greatness if we were to go and win the league at the end of the season. But if we don't, just watching the majority of players working their hearts and socks off in a game is satisfying enough at the moment. Especially the likes of Torres. We will try to ignore the what-ifs then.

Monday, February 2, 2009

What If

O the sweet taste of Victory!

How we have all yearned for this feeling of joy. Beating one of the Top Fours and doing a double over them this season doesn't happen often, mind you.

When I first saw the line-up, it did look like the best Liverpool could offer this season. It looked very promising when you see Alonso and Mascherano in the middle with Torres and Gerrard upfront. I did not really care about the flanks because it is obvious that Kuyt, of late, has been playing the role of the headless chicken who can't really cross and Riera would undoubtedly stray into the middle of the park and lose possessions at crucial times. But then again, how many times have we all seen LFC fielding its best line-up, boasted a big chunk of the possession, and then drew the games this season.

And true enough, yet again we saw us doing just that and yet again we saw how this game was going to be another Wigan or Everton. And when the red card was shown to Lampard (sorry mate, when you show your studs you get a red card, immaterial of whether you win the ball or not), I thought it was going to be more difficult to win this game. Teams with ten players on the pitch always tend to work harder, except against manure of course. And true enough, we bombarded Chelsea like there's no tomorrow and still could not make the possession count.

We would have ended the game 0-0 if not for some of the things that were missing in recent games that stood out like a sore thumb. Torres almost back to his best with his magic, Gerrard playing one of his best football in recent times, Rafa going all out by taking out a midfielder and putting in a striker, and Benayoun.

If we were to believe the stories we read on the net, Rafa seems to have concluded his contract debacle and with that out of the picture, was more willing. Many of the games before this, he was accused to have played negatively by trying not to lose games rather than winning. But last night, he showed his intent by taking out Mascherano. We are also made to believe that Rafa now has more say in the transfer of players, hence Keane was not even on the bench (at the time of writing, apparently Spurs and Liverpool have agreed for Keane exit and Liverpool is eyeing Javier Saviola as a loan striker). So, a happy Rafa is a winning Rafa after all.

Torres seems to be at his best, albeit a bit rusty just yet. I assume not many of us saw it coming, his first header goal, especially the Chelsea defense. Simply superb. And Gerrard was simply sublime, given the freedom to dictate without Lampard's presence. And Benayoun, what can we really say about his yoyo performance. Last night he was like a man possessed and delivered through. And we all love him for what he did last night, until the next game when he messes up again.

The only minus point in the second half was how Babel was trying too hard to win the game alone when brought in. The kid needs to be a wee bit cool and not try to be the messiah and shoulder the whole responsibility of winning the game for us.

Now, while we all bask in glory for beating one of the most expensively assembled teams in the world, we can continue to ask the 'what if' questions. What if we had not drawn that many games this season, what if Keane was more prolific in LFC jersey, what if this important win would all be nothing at the end of the season, etc.

With this win, we are again damned to continue to hope that some miracle happens that manure somehow fumbles a couple of times before the end of the season and we go on to win all our remaining matches. Optimistic fans will say that when there's still hope, there's still a way for us to claim the 19th title this season. Pessimistic ones would rather not have the hopes at all for they can't bear the heartache of trying to answer the many 'what ifs' in May. Wonder which fan I really am..