Liverpool lost again last night, this time to a team struggling to stay in the 2nd division, Reading. Reading FC have played 24 games this season and only won 4. That's the quality of the Liverpool team we have this season. In a reversal of fortune, last season when at one point Liverpool actually reached the peak of the Premier League, before a string of draws thwarted a run that ran shivers down the spine of opponents, this season, the fact that this "big four" club is laying 7th is in itself an amazing feat, considering the appalling state of affairs both on and off the pitch.
Before the start of this season, Sir Alex Ferguson said that he did not see Liverpool as a threat and thought, Chelsea, with new manager in Carlo Ancelotti, will be the biggest threat to Manchester United's bid for a four in a row League title.
Ferguson said that all the other teams would have found Liverpool out, how they play and how to subdue them. Benitez, responded that there are only so many ways to play foot ball and people will figure you out.
In another irony, through out 2008/09 season Liverpool struck fear in the hearts of opponents, so much so that they resorted to rough tactics. All season long, Liverpool sent opposing players off the field, while was not shown a single red card. This season, Liverpool already had 4, 2 in one game at Craven Cottage.
Stoke manager, Tony Pulis, has declared that Liverpool is not a team to be feared, ahead of Saturday's game at the Britannia. Last season, such statement would have sounded like a whistle in the dark but this time, he is stating the obvious.
Of the "big four" Liverpool is the only team which haven't won the Premier League, despite having an illustrious history. And, it is history that have kept the fans waiting patiently for the last 20 years. But, 20 years have eroded much of the fans enthusiasm, if not loyalty, and this season will be a test for both.
Should Rafa Benitez be replaced? Many, in utter frustration will want to. But, since the first division was named the Premier League, Benitez is probably the highest achieving Liverpool manager. Some argue that he had 5 years to prove himself, and he hasn't done so. Many says had made bad aquisitions of players in the past. But, he brought in Torres, Benayoun is not so bad, perhaps Garreth Barry would have been a good buy, too, if there was money to spend. Robbie Keane wanted to play more, so he went back to Spurs.... Glen Johnson too was a good acquisition. Unfortunately, everytime he bombs forward, Lucas who covers for him was just not good enough for the fast paced, hard tackling English Game. I have, admittedly, called for his resignation, but now I say give Rafa one more season to make amends.
Why? How is this season's team different from last season's. If Alonso had stayed, would it have been any different?
I think not. Last season, Lady Luck was a Liverpool fan, this season she abandoned us. She was there at all the games that looked like a lost cause and put the ball in the opponent's goal in the last quarter of the game. But, this season, the other teams are doing it to us. Fulham, Reading, Birmingham, Lyon, Fiorentina.... Last season we were the scorer of late goals, this we season we concede them.
It's a burn out..... It's psychological. We need a shrink. After a wonderful run last year, challenging Man U and Chelsea for the title, after coming back from 2 goal down like it was just a normal day in the office, Liverpool had nothing to show for it. No League Cup, no FA Cup, not even a Champions League semifinal, and so close to the league title they feel feel the trophy on their lips.... but for all their effort, for all the flair and genius ... there was nothing to show for it.
So close yet so far....
This season is a write off. A season of no trophies, but you may feel a little better, because you played like crap and therefore, it's justifiable that you didn't win anything....