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ARE LIVERPOOL IN TROUBLE?
Gary Lim, Iain Macintosh Your English Kaki
Wed, Aug 19, 2009
The New Paper

GARY: I'm sure you'll have many things to say about Liverpool, Iain.

I watched their 2-1 defeat against Spurs and it almost brought a tear to my eye. They can't defend, they can't attack, and now Rafael Benitez can't even see.

I have no idea why he was complaining about the referee when it was so painfully obvious that Liverpool were lucky to get away with a 2-1 defeat. It could and should have been worse.

Liverpool were atrocious in every department.

They seem to have so many problems that I can't begin to pin one down.

IAIN: I can pin one down for you. Xabi Alonso.

Without him, they just don't seem to have the imagination and inventiveness.

They say that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.

I think Rafa might have an idea now.

GARY: Yes, he should have an idea now, but he probably still doesn't have an idea what to do with Liverpool at the moment.

Lucas Leiva looks like he is in need of a pep talk, and well, a haircut too, obviously.

He sure doesn't look anything like a player who won the Placar magazine's Bola de Ouro (Golden Ball) in 2006, given to the best player in the Brazilian Leagues.

Mind you, Kaka and Romario won that same award, so what went wrong here?

You were at White Hart Lane so maybe you may have a better idea?

IAIN: Are we sure that he won it for football? It wasn't for 50m breaststroke, or a Spelling Bee or something like that?

I watched Lucas really closely on Sunday because I've never been able to see what he brings to the team.

Well, now I know. He's got excellent technique, he brings the ball under control quickly and he lays it off swiftly with a sensible pass.

Now, that's all well and good if you're trying to get through a game without doing anything wrong.

He will fit in very well at a mid-table club playing like that.

At Liverpool, however, he needs something else, some kind of X-factor to make him stand out.

If he is going to replace Alonso, he has to start passing the ball with ambition. He needs to start creating chances.

On Sunday, he was just too cautious.

GARY: Were you as mystified as I was to see Yossi Benayoun starting on the bench?

Since Leiva wasn't going to provide a creative edge, why did Rafa leave him out?

He was the only flair player Liverpool have other than Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

In fact, I thought he came into his own in the second half of the previous season.

Instead, Rafa opted for Ryan Babel, the fastest player in the team but not quite fast enough to chase after his first touch.

IAIN: Babel really was appalling, wasn't he? Like Lucas, he's another player who has to step up this season, but the only surprise was that he wasn't hauled off earlier.

In 20 minutes, Benayoun created more than I think Babel will all season.

He has to start next time, doesn't he?

GARY: Hopefully, Benayoun can provide a short-term solution.

If the Reds are going to have a shot at the title, they can't afford to wait until Alberto Aquilani returns from injury.

They would have lost it by then.

With the existing players, do you think Benitez can start turning things around?

IAIN: I think Torres was well marshalled by the Spurs defence but he never really received the service he required anyway.

It was a frustrating afternoon for him. However, it's too early to get panicky.

In the Spaniard and Gerrard, Rafa has two of the best players in the league.

He just needs the players to feed them.

I was amazed that he sold Alonso, and even more surprised that he replaced him with an injured player, but let's see how the next few weeks go.

Spurs are a very good side and it wasn't a nice place to have to start the season.

Stoke will be an interesting challenge. I seem to remember them sneaking out of Anfield with a point last season.

If they do that again, Rafa will start to come under pressure.

GARY: Or could this just be a poor run of form for Liverpool, considering their poor results in pre-season?

I remember them starting the last season badly as well, but they managed to pick up points back then.

Maybe I was just over-reacting, although listening to the Liverpool fans yesterday, I don't think I'm the only one.

IAIN: No-one wants to lose the first game of the season, so the disappointment of the Liverpool fans is understandable.

They should have a look at the way Man United started the last couple of years though, have a look at the amount of points they had thrown away.

There's a long way to go just yet.

I'm not sure that pre-season form has much to do with it.

This is a bad result for Liverpool, a real slap across the face, but we've seen them recover from things like this before.

We've seen them drop towards mid-table in January and then storm through the new year to recover a top-four place.

GARY: But it's the Premiership title that Liverpool fans are more concerned about, not a top-four finish.

That said, I think no one should write off Liverpool's title chances.

To put things in perspective, it's only one game into the season.

IAIN: They won't win the title playing like that, that's for sure!

They need some creativity, they need better performances from peripheral players, but the bulk of the squad is the same as the one that came in second last year.

Everyone has a bad day at the office every now and then, but when you do it on day one, you have nothing to compare it with, so it always seems worse.

Look on the bright side, Glen Johnson was very good!
 

 
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