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Liverpool may fall short in title tilt

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Phil McNulty | 11:24 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008

Liverpool fans are indulging in a familiar August pastime - namely pondering all the permutations to work out whether they will finally win the title for the first time since 1990.

Earlier in the summer I made a written promise to Liverpool fans who accused me of forever running down their chances of winning the Premier League.

I said I would return to the subject on the eve of the new campaign, study the summer's events and assess whether this season would be any different from the last 18 years in title terms.

Liverpool's summer has been decidedly mixed. Robbie Keane will prove to be an outstanding capture from Spurs, albeit at the truly exorbitant price of £20m.

But Rafael Benitez's pursuit of Gareth Barry has been embarrassing in its execution and acrimonious in the extreme as Aston Villa stood firm on their £18m price tag.

The fall-out has even scratched at the surface of the uneasy truce between Benitez and Liverpool's owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, who clearly do not share their manager's view of Barry's worth.

There are two sides to this argument and both have a certain merit.

Barry is worth nowhere near £18m, but it drives at the heart of the manager's judgement to deprive him of his major transfer target.

It is clear the failure to land Barry has irked Benitez, a manager with a history of being easily irked by his own club's power-brokers.

Benitez has been active elsewhere, bringing in Italian defender Andrea Dossena and Switzerland international Philipp Degen.

So with his business done, Barry notwithstanding, will Benitez finally fulfil Liverpool's dream and bring the title back to Anfield?

Benitez's reign has been built on progress in cup competitions, but he has yet to put together any serious sustained title challenge.

Liverpool will undoubtedly be contenders. They may finish higher than last season's fourth place, but I have my doubts about whether they will push Manchester United and Chelsea for the title.

Robbie Keane

This is a crucial campaign for Benitez. The Spaniard is tactically astute, but Liverpool's early momentum last term was killed off by his tendency to meddle needlessly, inexplicably leaving Fernando Torres out of eminently winnable games at home to Birmingham and away to Portsmouth.

He also needs to remember he is a coach not a politician. Benitez has had enough money to spend over recent seasons for Liverpool's hierarchy to demand he delivers a serious title challenge this time around. No excuses.

Liverpool pulled off a genuine coup in landing Keane from Spurs to pair with the brilliant Torres. This is a partnership potentially filled with goals and a spearhead to compare with any in the Premier League.

The only question mark surrounds how Liverpool will accommodate Keane in their formation. He will presumably play just behind Torres, but Steven Gerrard filled that role in outstanding fashion in the second half of last season.

Keane's arrival probably means Gerrard's burgeoning partnership with Torres will be placed on the back-burner and the Liverpool captain will figure in a more orthodox central midfield role.

They have a reliable keeper in Pepe Reina and the return of Daniel Agger in central defence after a season wrecked by injury is a welcome strengthening on those resources, which were boosted by the addition of Martin Skrtel in January.

Liverpool are well-blessed in central midfield when Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva return from the Olympics to team up with Gerrard and Xabi Alonso, who appears to have survived the cut and with it effectively killed off Benitez's hopes of landing Barry.

They are not so strong down the flanks, and Benitez will need big contributions from his new full-backs as well as Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun to provide crucial balance.

Jermaine Pennant is also on the margins of the squad, but in reality he is not a player who will win Liverpool a title - indeed he has barely won them a match since his arrival from Birmingham two seasons ago.

It is a strong squad with world-class talent in the shape of Torres and Gerrard - but it does not, in my opinion, match the all-round strength of Manchester United and Chelsea.

Liverpool have also failed to match that pair's consistency, so this will be another part of the equation Benitez must solve.

Keane's arrival will give Liverpool an extra dimension, but it is one I believe makes them more likely winners of a cup competition than the Premier League. They may rise to third place, but I do not see them as champions.

Manchester United and Chelsea will regard them as dangerous league rivals, but not the team to derail their title challenge.

Of course I know there will be plenty of Liverpool fans out there ready to argue with me. Some may even agree. Let's hear from you.

Third place and a cup - but another year without the title for Liverpool.

Comments

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  • 1. At 1:12pm on 14 Aug 2008, StJohn_Red_Legend wrote:

    Accommodating Robbie Keane in the current formation as well as Stevie G is a problem which on the evidence of last night, Rafa hasn't solved himself, as he swapped them over.
    Not sure whether Rafa would change the system, but perhaps by sacrificing one of the two wide men in midfield and bringing them inside to work as a second deep lying striker or linkman. The obvious victim would be Kuyt.
    Robbie and Steven both acting in support of Torres is something which might work, but they'd have to be careful about copying each other's runs.
    The remaining three in midfield would be a tighter, narrower unit and the fullbacks would have to push on better

    I suppose, in effect, it would be adopting a Christmas Tree formation, with Torres at the apex.

    However, would Rafa abandon his 4-5-1 that he used so effectively last season remains to be seen.

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  • 2. At 1:35pm on 14 Aug 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Good first post. Dirk Kuyt is an honest trier, who did an excellent job for Liverpool in an unaccustomed position last season.

    Not sure he is the quality wide man needed though.

    He is certainly serviceable, however, and Liverpool's left-flank looks a more pressing problem.

    I would hesitate to jump to conclusions after only a couple of games, but I would take a fit Fabio Aurelio ahead of Andrea Dossena.

    Liverpool fans and Benitez will hope Dossena is simply bedding down and will be ready for the real business on Saturday.

    What about the defending on free-kicks? A problem for years and one Benitez has yet to successfully address.

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  • 3. At 1:38pm on 14 Aug 2008, Vox Populi wrote:

    I just don't think that Robbie Keane is as good as some commentators and observers judge him to be. Is he really that talented a player that you change a successful formation to 'accommodate' him? I'm not so sure about that.

    That position that many are saying Keane likes to play, in the hole behind a striker, is also the position that Gerrard likes the most. It gives him the absolute freedom to pick the passes he wants, make the runs he wants, and be in range for more shots at goal. Gerrard doesn't want to play deep. And if Liverpool were to switch to 4-4-2, they don't even have top quality wingers in my view, to protect the full backs, provide creativity and make that work. Pennant and Benayoun are just too inconsistent.

    Benitez has talked about playing Robbie Keane in wide areas. So why didn't he just sign a winger?

    In my opinion, Liverpool would have been better off signing two top quality wingers, playing Gerrard off Torres and keeping their policy of two defensive central midfielders, rather than spending £20m on Robbie Keane.

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  • 4. At 1:39pm on 14 Aug 2008, Shoots-The Swindlement of the Swindling Swindler wrote:

    Sigh.....Torres was not "rotated"for B'ham and Portsmouth. He was on the bench because he was coming back from injury on both occasions.

    So actually it was not 'needless' meddling, but hey, everyone's an expert

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  • 5. At 1:39pm on 14 Aug 2008, HawkingsBoots wrote:

    A balanced article Phil.

    Keane is a great addittion. You only have to look at the likes of Kuyt and Voronin to know that he was an essential purchase.

    But I quite agree, its down the flanks that Liverpool have the problems. I think they will adopt a formation similar to Man Utd's last year. Essentially a forward 3. Torres at the sharp end and Gerrard and Keane behind him getting down the wider positions. This neatly means they avoid playing the likes of Pennant who clearly are not title-winning quality.

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  • 6. At 1:40pm on 14 Aug 2008, manredsox wrote:

    I thought it was widely acknowledged that Benitez has a formation he wishes to play - and that is the 4-2-3-1 with two holding midfielders (Masc and Barry ideally), one pinnacle of the attached (Torres) and three attacking midfielders. Gerrard obviously was the central of those three last season.

    Is it not fairly obvious the Keane will go into where Gerrard was last season, and presumably Gerrard will be tucked wide (right). Benitez made it clear years ago that he didn't trust/rate Gerrard down the centre.

    Having said that, I think also the point of Keane being signed is to add fluidity of movement to the forward line at the likely expense of the more regimented Kuyt. Expect to see Gerrard and Keane swapping positions a lot.

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  • 7. At 1:42pm on 14 Aug 2008, Giles wrote:

    On the evidence of last night, Liverpool will win nothing this season. I disagree about Dossena - I think he's better going forward than Aurelio judging by the other pre-season games I've seen. But with no decent wide players it will be a struggle. Kuyt isn't up to it, Benayoun is a good player but he's not a left winger. Maybe Benitez can continue to be the mirror image of Wenger by turning strikers into wide midfielders and Babel will profit from being played on the left, but I can't see it. I hope I'm wrong, but I think Liverpool are at least two quality players short of a real title challenge this year.

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  • 8. At 1:42pm on 14 Aug 2008, river_pines wrote:

    totally agree, think they still just fall slighty short compared to man utd and chelski, but they are more than capable of winning the champs league or another cup i feel..

    chelski have bought quite well deco is brilliant and with ballack and lampard still on board the posses a quite formidable midfield and attack...

    man utd will be just as tought with nani looking better and bettter and of course ronaldo, rooney and tevez,

    just dont think liverpool have those type of players

    torres and gerrard are in that league but the others i feel are way short...of giggs scholes, lampard, cole, carrick, hargreaves, ballack, deco,

    as far as 20 million on keane and 18 million, just shows you how crazy the market in england has gone with player like that comanding that price tag, even man utd 18 million each roughly for carrick and hargreaves......no wonder kaka is priced at 78 million !!

    still will be good to watch !

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  • 9. At 1:46pm on 14 Aug 2008, Vox Populi wrote:

    I've never seen Robbie Keane play wide in my life. He's only ever operated in central areas. If people think at the age of 28 he can be converted into a forward-winger, they're dreaming.

    If Benitez wanted a winger, why the heck didn't he bid for someone like Quaresma.

    Keane's not even that good. He's not a great finisher, he's not creative, he's not technically gifted. He's a trier with pace and energy.

    Bellamy was better than Kuyt, Voronin and Keane.

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  • 10. At 1:49pm on 14 Aug 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Do not see Robbie Keane as a wide man. It would be folly for Benitez to spend £20m on Keane then play him out of position.

    Do not agree about Bellamy. Liverpool was simply too big for him and take a look at his appearance record in the last 12 months - constantly injured.

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  • 11. At 1:49pm on 14 Aug 2008, Alan Dazely wrote:

    Agree Phil. I think however that we may well grab second place. I am on record as predicting Manu for the 2nd successive season (3rd in all) to win the Pl and I think Liverpool will get 2nd from an ageing and (also) wingless Chelsea. When are Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea going to wake up to the fact you need width and quality width at that. Manu have that and the others dont.I think we will get 2nd or at least 3rd and perhaps mount serious challenge in 09/10.

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  • 12. At 1:50pm on 14 Aug 2008, karim1981 wrote:

    Im an honest LFC fan and i dont think we have the players to win the league this year. I also dont think we will ever win the league with Rafa the Rotata in charge. Slaven Bilic pointed out that Englands downfall was because they didnt play 4-4-2. Liverpools failures are because we havent adopted this formation.

    yes we were successful with the 4-2-3-1 but we had Kuyt and Babel out wide who are strikers therefore they were able to make up the second striker when Gerrard was rampaging through the centre.

    I think we need to look at the side and realistically say that if we played 4-4-2 then Gerrard and not Kuyt would be our wide right man. He would not be wasted out there and can have a similar freedom to that of C Ronaldo of Man United.

    They say that when you go on a date, first impressions count so im sure the same applies for a football match. What worries me is that Dossena isnt going to be a top left back and that Degen is a waste of money ( i know it was a free but his wages!). I would have kept Riise for one more season and told him to make it his best and fight for the shirt. As it is, he has gone. Therefore my first XI would be when everyone is back and fighting fit

    Reina
    Carragher
    Skrtel
    Agger
    Arbeloa
    Gerrard
    Alonso
    Mascherano
    Babel
    Keane
    Torres

    Play 4-4-2, mascherano can do the holding job, alonso can supply the passes, Gerrards energy is endless and Babel youth will be amazing. Keane and Torres can play link up and main striker. The defence is solid plus we have the number 1 keeper in the premier league.

    We dont need Barry, he isnt worth £8 million let alone £18m!

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  • 13. At 1:52pm on 14 Aug 2008, Nick wrote:

    Good article Phil.

    I think Keane will be a good addition to the Liverpool set up, he is the type of player who will help Torres continue to flourish. Smart around the edge of the box and works the line very well creating spaces.

    However, I also cant see Liverpool mounting a serious challenge to United or Chelsea. Their best 11 will give anyone a game but the strength in depth is not quite there. Bringing on players like Pennant and Voronin is not going to change many games in an instant, they are good players but not massive impact players like those at the disposal of messers ferguson and Scolari.

    The flanks has been a constant problem during Rafa's reign, and I think this was highlighted again last night. They looked too narrow and exposed when Standard did spread the play and make use of the full width of the pitch.

    I agree with Phil that they will probably take some silverware this season, but I very much doubt it will be the much sought after Premiership.

    And as a slight reposte to some of the other comments, just how successful was this 4-5-1 you seem to enjoy so much?

    I wouldnt consider last season to be any sort of success for a club of Liverpools stature and maybe making some changes to the fundamentals might not be a bad idea??

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  • 14. At 1:52pm on 14 Aug 2008, booboyboo wrote:

    Liverpool will not win the league and will probably not mount that serious a title challenge for the following reason.
    It is a draw in a dour match , the team are not playing well and you turn to look at your world class match winners to pull something out the bag. You have Torres and Gerrard just like last .
    Also think Benitez is not that good a manager IMHO - he does seem to rotate for the sake of it rather than to kepe players fresh.

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  • 15. At 1:54pm on 14 Aug 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    My concern about Deggen was that he was not first choice in a decidedly average Switzerland side at Euro 2008.

    I know some Liverpool fans have expressed early doubts about Keane, but the only question I have on that deal is the price.

    He has proved his quality over several years with Spurs. There is no problem there.

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  • 16. At 1:56pm on 14 Aug 2008, secretscouse wrote:

    I agree, we just don't have enough players to frighten other teams...Torres, Gerrard...and now, maybe Keane is great but Ronaldo, Tevez, Nani, Rooney, Giggs, Scholes, Anderson is a little more frightening.

    Would've been nice to see Rafa spending the summer chasing someone like Quaresma or David Silva than Gareth Barry (who I don't think is better than Alonso). We need a quality winger!! No, we need two! ...And another left back, Dossena looked terrible against Liege.

    As for this season, I think we'll be okay, providing Rafa doesn't rotate so much and plays our strongest possible team. I think we should go for a 4-3-3 with Gerrard, Mascherano and Alonso in midfield with Keane and Babel supporting Torres.

    One more transfer request...bring back Luis Garcia!

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  • 17. At 1:58pm on 14 Aug 2008, dowyboy wrote:

    We may have been 4th last year, but if we'd beaten the top three, we'd have been top by several points. We need to have more confidence against the big clubs to make a difference this year.

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  • 18. At 1:59pm on 14 Aug 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    To secretscouse. I am not a huge fan of Alonso, but it was interesting to hear the reaction of Liverpool's supporters against Lazio.

    They clearly doubt the merit of selling Alonso and bringing in Gareth Barry.

    Tough to see where Alonso will go now to raise cash after playing in the Champions League.

    Glad to see it was not just me about Dossena!

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  • 19. At 2:00pm on 14 Aug 2008, Nick wrote:

    I was really disapointed by alst night but i'm going to put it down to poor mentality rather than poor players, inexcusable though it is they though they would walk it.


    The Keane, Gerrard problem for me is not a hard one to solve. when Raffa has said that Keane can play on the right or left people seem to presume it means as a winger. If you look at most top teams nowadays none of them have out and out wingers, even ronaldo isn't a winger anymore he's not a get to the byline and deliver the cross type player. I expect to see torress supported but Gerrard, Keane and one fo Kuty/babel for most of the season. Two of them won't be asked to play wide right or left but rather in the right and left channel, using pace and movement to creat space.


    As to where will we finish this season.. Last season for all our supposed woefulness we finished with 76 points that included playing the reserves when we where safe in 4th last year. We dropped too many points in stupid 0-0 draws when we needed to wrap it up. I think Keane could help us maybe get 10 extra points in those situations. If we finished this year on 86 points i would be very happy, will that win us the title something tells me not but who knows

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  • 20. At 2:00pm on 14 Aug 2008, manutd1982 wrote:

    Im sorry, but I just cant see Liverpool finishing in the top 3, last season either one of United, Chelsea and Arsenal could have won the league, Liverpool came nowhere near, and what makes them have a better chance now, Robbie Keane?! Keane is a very good player and was a large reason why Berbatov was so successful at Spurs, but their are still so many areas within the Liverpool team that need strengthening. Benitez constantly seems to ignore your blatant need for 2 wingers, instead playing strikers and central midfielders wide (Kuyt, Gerrard and Babbel who you may think is a winger but was always played as a striker in Holland in a similar role to Henry). Also, you still dont seem to have fully solved your full back problems, last season you were supposedly interested in Daniel Alves, but instead youve bought Andrea Dossena and Philipp Degen, neither of which seem to be of a quality needed to win titles. And finally the overall squad of Liverpool is very poor compared to United and Chelsea, apart from central midfield you clearly do not have sufficient cover for you other areas.

    Benitez's problem, much like Houllier before is that he wants to buy far too many very average players that will never improve the team, since last summer Benitez has bought 26 players!

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  • 21. At 2:01pm on 14 Aug 2008, secretscouse wrote:

    BTW...IF we're in touching distance come Christmas, we'll win it...I did say if....

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  • 22. At 2:04pm on 14 Aug 2008, U6271461 wrote:

    Good Blog my problem with the latest signings by Rafa is that he sold a good forward who offered variety when things were going wrong with the favoured style of play,Crouch.To be replaced by someone in the mould of the Rafa style thus leaving it all 1 dimensional.There is no opportunity to change the style now.This could be the problem ,plus of course outside of the 1st 11 the squad is not as strong as either Man U or Chelsea.

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  • 23. At 2:05pm on 14 Aug 2008, manutd1982 wrote:

    Also, another thing that bugs me about delusional Liverppol fans is how they keep going on about if they'd beaten the top teams they would have won the league, you didnt, and you came nowhere near winning these matches, not just last season, but every season Benitez has been in charge he has had a terrible record against the top 3, so saying if you had won those matches is completely irrelevant, its as relevant as saying if Derby had won all their matches they would have won the league, they didnt and where nowhere near doing so.

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  • 24. At 2:05pm on 14 Aug 2008, IOM_RAM wrote:

    I completely disagree with subtarranean when he says Keane is just a trier with pace. He set up a fair few goals for Berbatov last season and some of his finishes show real technical ability.

    Another point I disagree with is that he can't play as a wide player of an attacking 3 behind the striker. Yes he is certainly not a conventional winger but when you are part of an attacking 3 with 2 defensive midfielders behind you there is alot more freedom and I expect there aren't set postions for the 3 attacking players and they will interchange regularly. Keane did play on the left for Spurs on occasions.

    Also, this idea that you can't do well without good wingers depends on the way you play. If your game is all about getting the ball wide and into the box then yes, it is correct. However, many teams base their games on central play such as Chelsea last year, who apart from Joe Cole (when fit) had no conventional quality wide player.

    Reina

    Arbeloa Carragher Agger Dossena

    Mascherano Alonso

    Keane Gerrard Babel

    Torres

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  • 25. At 2:06pm on 14 Aug 2008, happy_red wrote:

    One game down and the season is over. Isn't this the same set of shallow comments we hear all the time?

    Rotation, zonal defending, blah, blah, blah.

    Let's face it, Barry is not worth £18m. Rafa rotates to the same level as ManU and Chelsea. Zonal defending is just as effective as man marking (but no-one calls for man marking to be scrapped when it leads to a goal).

    Last night Liverpool were awful. Didn't close down players, passing and movement were non-existent and Yossi, Keane and Kuyt were a liability for the first half. We were well and truly off the pace and Liege were well up for it (and played very well). As the first competitive game of the season, this sometimes happens.

    I'll reserve judgement until we are well into the season and we have everyone back.

    Good on you Phil for keeping your promise to write this article. For me, I want us to compete and, if we win the Prem, great. As long as we are competing, I'm happy. At the minute, it is way too early to judge anything.

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  • 26. At 2:09pm on 14 Aug 2008, IOM_RAM wrote:

    ManUtd82 Liverpool were robbed at Anfield after outplaying United as has been the case several times in recent years. Losing that game is 6 points difference from winning, which at an early stage in the season has a big say in the title race.

    They also should have beaten Chelsea (1-1)but an incorrect pen decision cost them, and Arsenal they drew 1-1 against.

    Yes they were comprehensively beaten at Old Trafford but apart from that you have no valid point

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  • 27. At 2:12pm on 14 Aug 2008, IOM_RAM wrote:

    The reason why Benitez is so keen to sign Barry at any cost is that he believes he can cover 3 positions, so comparing him to Carrick's fee is unwise. Perhaps this is also why Villa have placed such a high fee on him.

    Personally I wouldn't spend the money on him though as I think Alonso is vastly underrated and as Barry won't get in ahead of Mascherano or Gerrard, signing a probable left-back for £18 million isn't money well spent

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  • 28. At 2:17pm on 14 Aug 2008, Roger_the_Pessimist wrote:

    Can Liverpool challenge for the title? No. End of.

    It will end the week after Hansen and Lawrenson wet themselves after a routine Anfield rout and proclaim "They can do it!"

    Cue nil-nil away to also-rans.

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  • 29. At 2:17pm on 14 Aug 2008, harbin91 wrote:

    I believe the only way they can make it work is by changing the formation to a 4-1-2-2-1

    GK - Reina
    LD - Dossena/Aurelio
    CB - Skrtel and Agger
    RB - Carragher
    DM - Alonso/Mascherano
    LW - Babel
    RW - Kuyt
    AM - Gerrard and Keane (running into the box)
    ST - Torres

    That way will provide passes by Gerrard and Keane for Torres to latch onto as well as allowing them both to go for goal theirself. Although I do believe Liverpool need to bring in new wingers.

    Or the manager could play Keane as a second striker.

    Babel is one for the future but needs to work on his delivery.
    Kuyt is good but hasn't hit his potential in the Prem and doesn't provide the decent crosses needed.

    Either Barry or Downing should be brought into play on the left flank and either David Silva or another gifted right winger.

    That will provide the attacking potency need and will enable Alonso to help the defence.

    That will also solve the problem that Liverpool had last night. Also Liverpool will also need to bring in a new attacking mid to cover for Gerrard when he is unavailable. Liverpool cannot perform without Gerrard and you need a similar player to him to help the team. A younger player may be ideal, a 22yr old perhaps?

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  • 30. At 2:17pm on 14 Aug 2008, rchrdav wrote:

    dowyboy you didnt beat the top 3 last year though did you. It wasnt confidence that stopped you but quality. The 2 games against United I dont remember a shot from Liverpool. Your game against Chelsea in January / February was easily one the worst games I have ever seen you had the ability to cancel them out but not to go on and beat them.

    Keane may improve thatand I think that he will form a gnuine partnership with Torres but will he be enough to win the league because the others that have been brought in certainly dont look like they will be.

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  • 31. At 2:19pm on 14 Aug 2008, West London Blues wrote:

    All he brings in is mediocre after mediocre after mediocre.

    The odd quality player who actually improves the team is brought in far too inconsistently.

    Benyoun for Luis Garcia. Keane for Crouch. Vornin for Bellamy. Barry for Alonso. Dossenna for Riise. Babel. Arbeloa. Kuyt. Pennant. Deggan. I could go on.

    The squad should be improving every year. It should be packed with QUALITY. Instead he asks for money to blow on more mediocre.

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  • 32. At 2:23pm on 14 Aug 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    I actually do think the squad is improving in quality - the arrivals of Torres last summer, Mascherano during the season and Keane recently prove that.

    The issue is whether it has the quality, strength or consistency to threat Chelsea and Manchester United and do not think it does.

    Benitez's transfer record is certainly mixed, but he has had funds and the argument about lack of backing from the board wears thin.

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  • 33. At 2:26pm on 14 Aug 2008, dowyboy wrote:

    I'm not saying we should have beaten the top three last season, although we should have done better, at least against Arsenal. I'm saying that's the difference between a league winning performance and a runners up spot. If we can compete more against those three, then we're in with a chance.

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  • 34. At 2:27pm on 14 Aug 2008, harbin91 wrote:

    @Barca_Bee
    I wouln't say Keane is mediocre, last year he had a better record than Bellamy in the League.

    Barry doesn't always have to take the place of Alonso in the squad as he can play as a winger (Barry). Some of you that watched his performances with England playing along side Gerrard, seemed consistant and they both played well together, all it takes is to keep that partnership in Liverpool.

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  • 35. At 2:27pm on 14 Aug 2008, JStandgiveusasong wrote:

    Completely agree Phil, they have no chance! Good goalkeeper, Two average full backs, lack pace down the middle, very good in central midfield, awful down the wings, Torres is class, Keane? Over priced and very over rated, doesn't sound like a championship winning formula to me... Champions? 19 years is just round the corner.

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  • 36. At 2:28pm on 14 Aug 2008, JulioGlassface wrote:

    Phil had to write this column because so many Liverpool fans give him grief.

    I'm sure he knows just as well as any other unbiased fan that Liverpool are nowhere near good enough to win the Premiership. Its not even worth discussing.

    Everyone talks about "the top four", but in reality Everton, Spurs or Villa are much closer to Liverpool/Arsenal, than either of those are to Chelsea/Man U.

    There's a top 2 in England, not a top 4.

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  • 37. At 2:28pm on 14 Aug 2008, ShazaTheRed wrote:

    Good article Phil!
    And as a liverpool supporter I have to agree that you have been fair in your analysis.
    But what bugs me is that you neglected the fact that the difference in points between LFC and the top two team last season was a matter of 2 games lost to ManUtd!
    We were robbed in the 1st Chelski game as well!
    So eventually it is not all about consistency after all!
    Getting the results agaisnt title contenders counts a hell lot these days!

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  • 38. At 2:28pm on 14 Aug 2008, Doylemb wrote:

    I just can't see Liverpool as champions as long as Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal still play in the Premier League. I can't even see them being third.

    Man Utd are just too good all around to not be in the top three, Chelsea are too rich to drop anywhere lower than third and Arsenal have the skill to shine when they have to. Liverpool have Torres and Gerard. That's about it.

    The emphasis on one player over many is rife with Liverpool. Barry for 18mil? That's one player for the cost of two (three or four if you're Arsene Wenger) and Keane for 20?

    Benitez seems to know good players when he sees them but he doesn't see many.

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  • 39. At 2:29pm on 14 Aug 2008, Andy Wilde wrote:

    Firstly, the question over Degen not starting for Switzerland - he was coming back from an injury. Secondly, Keane - amazing but but 20m is steep. He could be our ace in the hole - more accustomed to playing in this position than Gerrard who only started playing there regularly last season. I'd keep the formation from last season, play Gerrard on the right of the midfield/forward 3. As we saw with Kuyt last season, the player can get central and contribute or stay wide.As for title chances, the fan in me says yes, the realist says 2nd at best.

    Reina
    Arbeloa/Degen
    Carra/Skrtel
    Agger
    Dossena

    Masch
    Alonso

    Gerrard
    Keane
    Babel

    Torres

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  • 40. At 2:30pm on 14 Aug 2008, harbin91 wrote:

    Although Liverpools form did falter in the mid season when he started to rotate the squad abit too much.

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  • 41. At 2:30pm on 14 Aug 2008, 7Bestie7 wrote:

    It appears that the biggest problem for Liverpool, and indeed Arsenal over the last few years, is the fact that both managers are focused on buying a player and then making them play in another position.

    Now I'm all for versatility and I think the majority of English players needs that aspect of their game improved. But you can't do so at the expense of your team. Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea need wingers if they are going to play with wide-men. Players who love to be out wide, who understand the tricks of the trade of getting the ball at the white line and either running into the park or getting it to the byline for a deadly cross.

    If you're going to play with wingers, buy a winger. I'm not worried about Liverpool (or Arsenal) pushing United for the title this year, in fact I think it's ours to lose. Keane may be a good buy, but I doubt he'll be a great one.

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  • 42. At 2:30pm on 14 Aug 2008, pablodiablo93 wrote:

    i sortof agree ... i am a lfc fan through and through but we dont have anywhere near the quality needed..To start

    1, rotation...we should have a consistent team...Rafa said he will have the players fit to mount a challenge on the title when every1 else is tired..but Utd and Chelsea didnt get tired and they played a more or less consistent team all season long.

    2, signings... Taking what other people have said...Why keane...He doesnt play wide and he doesnt score loads of goals. he scored 13 goals in the league last season..which is okay... but will he play 38 league games to score that and will he play in a striking role..or will he get in gerrards way??. We should have bought Rafinha from schalke-who is actually a decent full back and defender-.2 quality wingers, with silva announcing he wants to stay in spain-who in my opinion is a bit overrated and light-weight for the league...he'll get bossed around too often- who else can rafa go for...Quaresma would have been a brilliant signing..he can actually cross a ball and score.and rafa might have been able to get him for 15 million.3 mill less than barry and 5 mill less than keane.

    3, Finances... The board must get out of liverpool b4 it all comes tumbling down in debt. if they can sanction a 20 million move for keane, How ever much they paid for the other signings who look to be average not good enough..(going back to previous point), and allegedly sanctioning an 18 million move for barry( they have since announced they will not be paying the way over priced 18 mill for barry).
    20 million plus 18 million equals 2 average player we dnt need.If we bought barry we would have 5 central midfielders and would be forced to sell alonso.(3 times the player of barry and 1 of the best passers in the game)Whats the point!.
    20 mill from keane transfer and 18 from barry could have paid for david villa.3 times the player of both of them.even though villa has revealed he wants to stay at valencia(or in spain).But 38 million couldve paid for sergio aguero of atletico madrid. Who is a rising star and a player with bags of quality and goals.He is 1 for the future...if liverpool nutured him or even loaned him out to barça or atletico for a season...he could end up being a deadly attacker like ...Messi.

    Going back to finances, Liverpools owners are at loggerheads with each other...not a stable environment for a manager...(just look at mark hughes) and they are going into debt whereas DIC would have more money..wouldnt be in so much debt and mite allow benitez to go for better players like villa and silva and so on.

    I doubt liverpool will ever win the league under benitez but he has been a good servant to liverpool with the difficult times behind the scenes...others would have been close to leaving the door or even getting the boot.
    A second point is if liverpool let rafa go for another manager, There would be a huge exodus of players leaving.Like torres and Reina who have stood up for benitez and have stated that if rafa left the club than they would follow him...Some of our best players saying that...If they left We would go Right back to square1 again!

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  • 43. At 2:30pm on 14 Aug 2008, manutd1982 wrote:

    IOM_RAM, I think your missing the point of how games are won and lost, you didnt beat United at Anfield because you didnt have the quailty to score and United had quality all around. In that game you may have shown alot of effort but their was no end product, United had very few chances and put 1 away, thats clinical finishing that comes with being a great side and is often how teams play away from home, its not luck. You didnt score because of bad luck, but because United have arguably the best defence in the world and Rio had Torres in his pocket, also Gerrard was completely owned by Anderson that game.

    I agree you were robbed with your home game with Chelsea, but again at home you didnt really show enough quality to win, like United and Arsenal did against Chelsea, and your away match was just pathetic excuse of a game from both teams.

    Finally your 2 games with Arsenal, the first at Anfield, Arsenal made you look like a very very average team, lacking any ideas and although you managed to get a draw, had Arsenal shown a little more composure in front of goal could have won by quite a few, while the other match was just before youre meeting in the CL and had no real importance to either team.

    So I dont really understand your excuse that if you had won all those games you would have won the league, at most their was 1 game (home to chelsea) where you were unlucky not to get a win, other than that, you got exactly what you deserved, if not more.

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  • 44. At 2:32pm on 14 Aug 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Can we have no more mentions of Craig Bellamy when discussing Robbie Keane.

    Liverpool have never needed to mourn the loss of Bellamy and should not start now - Keane is superior in terms of temperament, goals and consistency.

    This is where that argument ends.

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  • 45. At 2:33pm on 14 Aug 2008, harbin91 wrote:

    You speak wise words there Phil. Keane is alot better than Bellamy.

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  • 46. At 2:34pm on 14 Aug 2008, Reds69 wrote:

    I had to stop reading after "inexplicably leaving Torres out". Same tired nonsense that proves no actual thought was put into the article.

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  • 47. At 2:38pm on 14 Aug 2008, Zidanepirouette wrote:

    Sigh.....Torres was not "rotated"for B'ham and Portsmouth. He was on the bench because he was coming back from injury on both occasions.

    So actually it was not 'needless' meddling, but hey, everyone's an expert
    ----------------------------------------------------
    Agreed! It's lazy isn't it, we should call him Phil 'Jamie Redknapp' McNulty.

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  • 48. At 2:41pm on 14 Aug 2008, IOM_RAM wrote:

    Firstly less of the 'you', I am not a Liverpool fan (given away by my name).

    You say clinical finishing won United their game at Anfield? Hardly, a tap in from Tevez won it. Are you saying Liverpool don't have a clinical finisher, only Torres is the most clinical in the league.

    My point is that Liverpool played well but were unlucky not to win these games early in the season, thus putting themselves too far behind and thus out of the title race early on.

    The key for them is to mount a challenge whereby they are in touch with a couple of months to go, I agree they have little chance of actually winning it.

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  • 49. At 2:45pm on 14 Aug 2008, CardiffbornScouse wrote:

    I think in Reina, Agger, Carragher, Mascherano, Gerrard, Keane and Torres we have an excellent spine to our side, Match that with Alonso, Lucas, Skrtl, babel, Benny and Kuyt we have good back-up.

    What we Lack, and have lacked for a long time is wingers. Natural width in the team. Two quality wingers(Right and Left of course!) and you have a great team, and a team that can challange.

    But Rafa still does not seem to want to buy a proper, natural winger, and has never wanted too.

    So in Short I think 3rd, maybe 2nd if we are lucky and Chelsea and Arsenal are unlucky!

    A cup is possible though.

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  • 50. At 2:47pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    To my mind, Keane is a great signing for when Liverpool is playing 4-4-2. In that formation, their ideal formation is probably

    Reina
    Agger-Carragher-Skrtel-Aurelio
    Pennant-Gerrard-Macherano-Babel
    Keane-Torres

    The weak spot there is Pennant, who needs replacing with a proper winger.

    In 4-2-3-1, which was their stronger formation last season, I figure it's

    Reina
    Agger-Carragher-Skrtel-Aurelio
    Alonso-Macherano
    Kuyt-Gerrard-Babel
    Torres

    Which is to say, Keane isn't part of the 4-2-3-1 for the most part. He can go in place of Gerrard, or even possibly Kuyt, but I don't think he's starting XI in that formation. In 4-2-3-1, to my mind, Barry was wanted to go in where Alonso is. Which is why Alonso is surplus to requirements - he's an attacking central midfielder in a team that has Gerrard. Yes, he's a good second choice for Gerrard in 4-4-2, but at the end of the day, you can pull Keane back or put Benayoun there. Not great in 4-4-2, but both are fine replacements for him in 4-2-3-1. Alonso is a great midfielder, but he doesn't have a clear place in Liverpool as it stands.

    Personally, I think 20 mil and 18 mil are too much for players that only have a clear role in one of two formations, and I'm baffled by the willingness to lose a player like Riise (who could play wing in 4-4-2 fine) or Crouch (who was a fine partner for Torres) in order to pay too much for such a player. In particular, I don't get why a striker was pursued when a winger is the more obvious hole.

    I still think Liverpool can challenge for the title. I think they could have done it last year, save for a poorly timed slump. Addressing why the slump happened is the more significant problem than patching non-existent holes.

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  • 51. At 2:49pm on 14 Aug 2008, joebloggins wrote:

    Robbie Keane is undoubtedly a brilliant player and so is Torres. Remains to be seen if the dream partnership on paper can put it into practice on the field. He had Lennon and Berbatov alongside him at Spurs who seemed pretty unselfish
    and willing to provide for him.

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  • 52. At 2:52pm on 14 Aug 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    I think Benitez has bought a winger in Pennant - he just isn't good enough for Liverpool.

    Yossi Benayoun is clearly talented, but he did not get a lot of opportunities last season. If there are doubts about Benayoun, it is that he occasionally looks lightweight.

    There is, I admit, an argument for saying that Benitez should have used the £20m spent on Keane on a world-class wide man.

    I still think Keane will be a success, however.

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  • 53. At 2:54pm on 14 Aug 2008, unbeatableBigFan wrote:

    Had enough of Liverpool playing so boringly. I like Benitez when Liverpool plays like the way they played against Milan when we won the Champions League. But this is very rare. Time for Benitez to leave. Rijkaard would be a great attacking minded manager that Liverpool fans need

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  • 54. At 2:57pm on 14 Aug 2008, Matt_Esskay wrote:

    Liverpool are still a million miles away from Man U and Chelsea and even Arsenal in my opinion.

    But you can't tell Liverpool fans this because for some reason they're unique as a club in having a stupid insular attitude whereby they take any one who mildly criticises anything about Liverpool as being part of some grand London conspiracy out to get them.

    Rafa Benitez is a large part of the problem. Don't be fooled by his cup success, anyone who wins a European Cup, Man U or Barcelona or whoever, needs some luck to get to the final and even more to win. The league is the only barometer of what makes a great team, this is why Brian Clough said he'd happily swap his two European Cups for two more league titles. But while Benitez was concentrating on getting to his second European Cup final his team finished closer, points-wise, to Middlesborough in 12th than Man U in first that season.

    Benitez has wasted a large amount of money due to his obsession with squad depth, with the money used to buy Kuyt and Pennant, Liverpool could have signed a truly world class player, or even Robbie Keane, a season or two earlier. His baffling tactics let his team down time and again.

    This isn't deisgned to attack Liverpool for no reason, as a neutral its incredibly frustrating or me to see such a huge amount of potential wasted, I'd love a true title race between four competitive clubs but this just isn't going to happen and whats most annoying of all about is that Liverpool fans don't seem to care or want to do anything about it.

    All the Liverpool fans I know constantly tell me that Carragher is better than Terry, and Finnan better than Wes Brown, and Reina is the best goalie in the league, and how great Kuyt is and that Xabi is the best passer in the world etc etc. Boys this really can't be true can it or you wouldn't be so far behind in the title race would you? Stop taking every suggestion that you need to improve as some sort of personal insult to the scouse nation and look critically at your team and manager its the only way you will ever get back to the top.

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  • 55. At 2:57pm on 14 Aug 2008, harbin91 wrote:

    Don't be hasty to kick Benitez out... granted it has been three years and no titles but if he should go, then it should be at the end of the season.

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  • 56. At 2:57pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    I think Keane is a good signing - just not at 20m. He's a great choice to partner Torres in 4-4-2. Better than Crouch, but I can't see him as 9m better than Crouch to begin with, and even less so given that I don't think Keane has a clear place in the 4-2-3-1 that Liverpool plays much of the time now.

    To my mind, in both 4-2-3-1 (with Kuyt) and in 4-4-2 (with Pennant) Liverpool has the problem of playing a sub-par winger. That's a worse problem than they had playing Alonso as a defensive midfielder in 4-2-3-1, and a much worse problem than they had playing Crouch in 4-4-2.

    I'd have gone for a CDM (though either for cheaper or younger than Barry) and a winger in the transfer season once the back four was sorted out (which it seems to be). But then, I haven't won the Champions League lately, and Benitez has, so there could well be something I'm missing. :)

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  • 57. At 2:57pm on 14 Aug 2008, radiskilly wrote:

    While I don't disagree with the general conclusion that third place and a cup are the most realistic goals for Liverpool this season, I do take issue with two points in the blog. Firstly, "Barry is worth nowhere near £18m". For this comment to make any sense whatsoever, we must clearly read it as meaning "in the current market". Now I want to ask Phil why Barry is worth nowhere near £18m in the current market? Here we have an experienced, versatile, left footed international who has a proven ability to work well with Gerrard. Was Hargreaves worth £17m last season? Carrick £18m the season before? You might argue that Carrick was two years younger then, but we probably won't see the best of him in a United shirt until this season at the earliest. Has he been worth £18m so far? Questionable in my mind. And the other point is, Man Utd and Liverpool are not 'selling' clubs. When you pay that kind of money for a player you do not do so in order to make a profit a few years down the line. Barry is wanted for the contribution he can make now, and he is certainly worth the same as Darren Bent, or £6m cheaper than Shaun Wright-Phillips, if you ask me.
    The second point I take great issue with is Phil's comment that Benitez has had enough money to spend in recent seasons for the hierarchy to demand a title challenge. This is nonsense. Before this time last year, Benitez' most expensive signing was Alonso for £10.5m. Since then Torres, Mascherano and Keane have been brought, but Man Utd and Chelsea have been spending this kind of money consistently for close to a decade now. Why should Benitez be expected to mount a title challenge any more than Martin Jol was? Liverpool have 3 players who cost over £12m (Torres, Masch, Keane). Man Utd have 8 (Ferdinand, Carrick, Hargreaves, Anderson, Nani, Ronaldo, Rooney, Saha) or 9 if you include the inevitable cost of Tevez, or 10 if Berbatov comes. Chelsea have 11(Ferreira, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Essien, Malouda, Wright-Phillips, Mikel, Sheva, Anelka, Drogba, Kalou). Why should benitez be expected to challenge when he has spent so much lass than his main rivals?? It's beyond me.

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  • 58. At 3:00pm on 14 Aug 2008, manutd1982 wrote:

    IOM_RAM, are you a Derby fan, its not that obvious, sorry to call you a Liverpool fan, I know Torres is clinical, probably the best striker in the world last year, but you cant rely on 1 man (yes Ronaldo did score 42 goals), when Torres is marked out of the game like against United, you need other players to take over, and apart from Gerrard, Liverpool dont have that.

    Im just not having this whole unlucky nonsense, if you score a legit goal that is dissallowed that is unlucky, not being able to win a match even if you have 100% possession and 50 shots on goal (just an extreme example) is not unlucky, it means your not very good at winning games. Its similar to the Chelsea fans saying they were unlucky against United in the CL final becuae they hit the post twice and Terry slipped up, since when did hitting a post count as a goal, if you hit the post it means your shot was off target, if you slip up on a penalty that could win you the CL youre an idiot.

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  • 59. At 3:01pm on 14 Aug 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Benitez has been backed in the market. He has bought Torres, Babel, Mascherano and Keane in the last 12 months - all big-money buys.

    He has had to sell to buy, but that is part of trading in the modern market.

    I just do not think Barry is worth £18m as a player. He is also 28 years of age and there is little sell-on value.

    You may say he paid £20m for Keane, but I also think he was wildly over-priced - despite being a proven talent.

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  • 60. At 3:01pm on 14 Aug 2008, Magic_J8 wrote:

    I am a Liverpool supporter - but I have to agree with you. We will not win the premiership this season.

    We needed more firepower up front, though at the cost of £20m for someone of Keane's capability is questionable.

    I'm glad we never signed Barry, a waste of money since we have many capable midfielders - we simply do not need another one - especially one that is so overpriced again.

    We are strong in the middle like usual, and I was hoping that Benitez would see some wisdom and sign two or three quality wide-men this summer. As it goes the past 5 seasons or so, it never materialised - as every Liverpool boss has had an obsession with signing more strikers or midfielders than we actually need. I suppose we can take solace that a few new CB's have come in recently - which have also been wanting for a while.

    We have a strong squad, which I agree - is more than capable for a Cup win, whether in Europe or domestic. We just don't have the right kind of players to win a league again. We are missing world-class creative wide-men that are match winners in stubborn games for us. Just take a look at last night - I was struggling to look for any creative impetus. I saw a side that is missing the icing on the top.

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  • 61. At 3:02pm on 14 Aug 2008, 85BenJi85 wrote:

    Does anyone think Rafa may go to 3 at the back? Use more or a wing back system...

    Something like this:

    Reina

    Carragher Agger Skrtel

    Deggan Alonso Mascherano Dossena

    Gerrard Keane

    Torres


    This would accomodate both Keane and Gerrard.

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  • 62. At 3:02pm on 14 Aug 2008, unbeatableBigFan wrote:

    Every Liverpool fan knows we need wingers. Hope the Americans will get us a potential world class start this season just like they helped to finance Torres last season. I would love to have Milner, Downing, or City's Petrov in Liverpool team. They would make quality wingers and don't need time to bed in. Finnan and Pennant can be the bargaining chip for financing these transfers. The young strikers namely Nemeth, Ngog and Pachecho seem much much better than Voronin. Pennant and Vorronin definitely need to leave. Benitez also needs to give the youngsters like Nemeth, Ngog, Pachecho, Spearing etc more first team opportunities or use them as super sub. It gives every team a huge boost when a youngster comes in and does well. Just take Arsenal and Man U as examples and even ourselves when Owen and Gerarrd were coming through.

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  • 63. At 3:04pm on 14 Aug 2008, Pantryboy wrote:

    Liverpool will not challenge. They have a manager who is too cautious and until he changes his '0-0 is a good away result' mentality (good for the Champions League, useless in the EPL) they will never be able to live with Man U and Chelsea, especially the former who go out to win every game, home or away.

    Benitez is an extremely over-rated manager, too many of the players he has been bought have been very average and an insult to the famous red jersey, and despite his complaints he hasn't had a shortage of cash - certainly a lot more than Wenger has got at Arsenal in the last 4-5 years. Additionally, Benitez's record against Man U, Chelsea and Arsenal is shocking - it is not even competitive (their two celebrated successes against Chelsea came on pens and they got their comeuppance when outclassed by Chelsea last season after robbing Arsenal in the QFs)

    Even this pre-season, with the exception of Keane, their signings wouldn't get anywhere near Man U or Chelsea's matchday squad nevermind the first team - and it will take a lot more than Robbie Keane to make them serious contenders.

    Liverpool are at least three or four players short of what is required the take on Man U and Chelsea, and even if they got those I think it is seriously doubtful the so-called tactically astute (see ultra-defensive) Benitez could lead them to the title.

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  • 64. At 3:05pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Matt_Esskay - For what it's worth, I'm hard pressed to say Carragher is better than Terry - I rate them about equal, but I have a grimmer assessment of Terry than is quite mainstream.

    The low number of goals conceded that Liverpool sports does speak to the quality of their defense, however.

    I like Kuyt in the same way I like Hargreaves for Man U - you can drop him in and he'll work the position as hard as can be. There won't be any real flashes of style, but the position will always be completely and competently covered. But Kuyt is a lousy striker, and I'd trade him out for a better winger in a heartbeat - unlike Hargreaves, he lacks the versatility to be played in multiple positions.

    Alonso is good, but has little place in Liverpool these days.

    I think that Liverpool has as good a central midfield pair as any team in the league, a great defensive line, and a great striker. The problem is that their wings are weak, and they have the wrong central midfield for their preferred formation of 4-2-3-1. It's not a huge problem. But it's large enough to keep them from being able to grind out better than a draw consistently against the world class teams. In a two-legged tie that can go to penalties Benitez can carry it through by dint of tactics, but in the league it's not quite enough to overcome Man U, Chelsea, or Arsenal.

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  • 65. At 3:08pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    radiskilly - Carrick and Hargreaves were both reasonably priced, but I remain puzzled why Man U wanted both. Hargreaves at least has the versatility to alleviate the redundancy, and were at least bought a bit younger than Barry. I rate Barry a bit weaker than both, personally, and so have a hard time justifying 18m in comparison to them.

    Similarly, comparing to Bent is nuts. Nobody thinks Bent was worth 16m. Bent included, I suspect.

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  • 66. At 3:09pm on 14 Aug 2008, bannedgunner wrote:

    "You say clinical finishing won United their game at Anfield? Hardly, a tap in from Tevez won it. Are you saying Liverpool don't have a clinical finisher, only Torres is the most clinical in the league."

    No he is saying that you were not good enough to create chances! And he is right.
    Other than home game against Chelsea you didn't deserve anything more against other big teams.

    At any rate I disagree with the premises that results against other big 4 teams are what cost Liverpool. In fact games between big 4 are cagey and usually unpredictable. Two years ago Man U took 2 points in 4 games against Chelsea, and Arsenal top the table of big 4 teams, but Man U won the championship and Arsenal finished 4th.


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  • 67. At 3:09pm on 14 Aug 2008, rchrdav wrote:

    radiskilly the point about Liverppols spending is a tad misleading. Yes United have spent £18M on Carrick (2 league titles and a champions league in 2 seasons) and Anderson Nani Ronaldo Ferdinand Rooney etc. Liverpool have also spent money (and lots of it) on players but instead of spending it on top quality have tended to go never mind the quality feel the width (excepting of course that they have bought no width).
    We have all seen the figures that show Liverpool have spent nearly as much as United and Chelsea over the last few years but they seem to have had a scattergun approach to buying players rather than a targeted approach to bring in players that are needed and will improve what was there.
    What was surprising about Liverpool buying Torres last summer wasnt that he was a good player and they wanted him but that they bought him instead of investing in 3 lesser players.
    If they had Liverpool fans would still say that they hadnt had the money to spend not that it had been spent unwisely

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  • 68. At 3:10pm on 14 Aug 2008, Skylynx wrote:

    Perhaps too much is being considered here, it is afterall Liverpools first competitive game of the season. Also, Pool haven't really been a team in recent years that entertains the fans so last night was to be expected.

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  • 69. At 3:15pm on 14 Aug 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    The Chief Architect....To be fair to posters, I don't think people are basing their views on the game against Standard Liege.

    There have been lots of considered opinions taking in all the issues surrounding Liverpool.

    Not too many of you out there think Liverpool will be title contenders - that does surprise me slightly given the optimism (some might say over-optimism) that usually exists at Anfield.

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  • 70. At 3:16pm on 14 Aug 2008, Zidanepirouette wrote:

    Am i the only person who thinks Pennant is actually pretty decent? He's never had a run in the side due to injuries and Rafa's tinkering, i think given a chance out wide on the right for 4+ games he would produce the goods. I'd much prefer him hugging that right touchline than Kuyt being out there.

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  • 71. At 3:17pm on 14 Aug 2008, Torres+Gerrard=Greats! wrote:

    I think that Benitez has done the right think In bringing in Robbie Keane, However. I Have To Say that the old formation Liverpool Used for the Second Half of the season worked(a very european formation) With the 2 holding midfeilder players. But Now That the teams have sussed out that. They know How To Break it down. I Think liverpool should opt for this the old 4-4-2 Diamond

    Reina,
    Carragher(right-back it my take some time but we should give it a go)
    Agger, Skrtel
    Aurelio

    Mascherano,
    Alonso, Babel
    Gerrard(Given a free role)

    Keane( Just off Torres)
    Torres


    That wouls Liverpool At this moment in time, As there will obviously won't be any funds for a new signing (Who ever that mat be)

    I'd Also like to mention LFC youngters, And that Plessis and Nemeth Look Great For 2 new Forwards

    And A Speciall note to David Ngog. I wouldn't be suprised to see him on the team sheet instead of Keane sometimes

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  • 72. At 3:17pm on 14 Aug 2008, mightysoprano wrote:

    I am a Liverpool supporter and I approach the season with trepidation. I agree with Phil - we are behind Man U and Chelski in terms of squad depth, quality and technical ability. I was shocked by our long ball game against Liege - we sell Crouch (rightly so) only to then pump long balls forward to players who like it on the ground!!

    Even the ability to make simple 10 yard passes seems to have gone. It was like watching the old Wimbledon play though even they didn't play so many long balls!

    I simply cannot see us even challenging for the title - I am a big Rafa fan however I fear his time may soon be up as such poor showings cannot go on. I sincerely hope I am wrong.

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  • 73. At 3:18pm on 14 Aug 2008, nellt201 wrote:

    I have been a frustrated Liverpool fan for many years; hoping each year that we'll finally make a decent challenge for the title but yet again watching the game last night we'll be lucky to win the Carling cup. It doesn't matter which players are on the pitch we seem to struggle to put a few decent passes together, last night we looked tired and out of sync with each other. I know that new players need to have time to settle into a new team but there were players out that know how we play and yet they seemed to struggle. Alonso is a good midfield player but why can't he kick a ball from a dead ball situation? Arbeloa, is he the best we've got? Kuyt does alot of running but he doesn't get anywhere. Until we get a settled team and that means a team that isn't swapped around week in week out we are not going to win the title, the other big teams don't tinker with there starting line week in week out, they put out the best they have. I hope I am proved wrong but only time will tell.

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  • 74. At 3:22pm on 14 Aug 2008, AZStatic wrote:

    I cant Say i disagree , however i believe that this year they will be a lot closer than people will think they are. they may not have the class that Man Utd and Chelsea have , however they do have players that are willing to go the extra mile for that title ..
    I believe that Keane and Gerrard will both play supporting strikers in matches.
    What is different about this Liverpool Team is the amount of attacking options they have , in their starting eleven.
    My only concern for this season is the amount of goals they will concede, when they go forward.
    This year is more or less make or break for Rafa . which will motivate many of the players who want to play for him and whats different is that there were not a lot of spinal changes this year , it is more or less the same team , which might improve consistency ...
    another thing that would help them , is that i don't believe that Man Utd and Chelsea will play as good as they have the past two season . so that could help too .

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  • 75. At 3:24pm on 14 Aug 2008, Rafa77 wrote:

    As a Liverpool fan I was frustrated last night to watch how they performed. Liege are the winners of their domestic league and still had to go through the qualifying round to get to the group stages, this in itself shows the strength of Belgian domestic football and yet Liege ran Liverpool in every department last night. I accept that Liverpool haven't played as many competitive games as Liverpool but I think the class that Liverpool have should have come through. I honestly can't remember a single Liverpool strike on goal other then Alonso and Gerrard free kicks. What Liverpool need is a steady team of 442, none of this lark of playing people out of position (Kuyt on the right wing). Play people to their strengths and paly them regularly so that they grow and develop an understanding of eachothers movements and habits. Rafas problem is is that he's not fully sure of what his best team is and that was evident when he replaced Keane with Gerard. With this being his fifth season at the helm that is a worrying scenario...Look at Chelsea (Czech, Terry, Lampard, Drogba) United (Van de Saar, Ferdinand, Vidic, Carrick, Rooney, Ronaldo) Arsenal (Gallas, Toure, Fabregas, Adebayor) this is the kind of consistency that Liverpool lack and unless Rafa addresses this problem they will draw too many games to give themselves a chance of competing for the title. In my opinion defend man for man and none of this zonal marking and play 442
    Reina
    Aurelio
    Agger
    Skertl
    Carragher
    Babel
    Gerard
    Alonso
    Mascherano
    Keane
    Torres
    Not sure what anyone else thinks, but as someone once said footballers are creatures of habit!!

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  • 76. At 3:26pm on 14 Aug 2008, Mellors Moobs wrote:

    Very good article and i agree with your prediction, they may hit 3rd but they will not win the title!

    They have no quality out wide and the left back doesn't look very promising to me!

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  • 77. At 3:27pm on 14 Aug 2008, IstampoolTIM wrote:

    Liverpools title assault relies totally on the transfer of Barry!
    The team assembled works perfectly except for the forward running of Dossena!
    Rafa wants both full backs overlapping and providing the width and had outlined the gap behind Dossena as a potential problem, this is where he requires Barry!
    It is too much to ask Mascherano to cover fr both full backs and Alonso just doesn't have the defencive qualities to do the job.
    Barry is perfect for this role. He can provide width, link up play, take set pieces and when the defenders overlap he can fill the hole created!
    If Liverpool don't mount a challenge then it is the owners who need to eamine their own intervention in the "Barry saga" and not question Rafa's!

    I honestly believe Barry will win us the league!

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  • 78. At 3:30pm on 14 Aug 2008, jgpl001 wrote:

    Why do we have to listen to the same old Liverpool hype year in/year out??

    As a Man Utd supporter for 35 years I sat through the dominant years of great Liverpool teams and I really did admire their football and great tradition of this great club

    To all Liverpool fans I know it hurts but face the facts, apart from Torres and Gerrard the rest of the squad are simply not good enough. You can juggle players and formations, but over 38 games the end result will be the same - 3rd or 4th place at best. There is no substitute for Quality and Liverpool do not have enough of it.

    The structure and politics of the club have been wrong for the past 15 years and until it is put right Liverpool will never dominate again.

    Rafa is a good man but he plays a rubbish brand of football. I am sure Shankly and Paisley are looking down in horror at their great club.... Neither of these 2 men would have allowed Pennant or Voronin to carry the water bottles.....

    The fans need to buy out (like Barcelona) and start fresh again

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  • 79. At 3:32pm on 14 Aug 2008, The Unused Substitute wrote:

    When I see Liverpool, I see a pretty good team with no strength in depth at all. Look at Chelsea or Manchester United - they have quality players to come on and make an impact.

    The partnership between Keane and Torres (who I believe is Liverpool's best player by far) could prove crucial in my opinion. If they can gel quickly, they might have a chance. If their Champions League qualifier is anything to go by, the initial signs are not good.

    This could very well be the season either Arsenal or Liverpool stumble out of the top four and are replace by someone like Tottenham or Villa.

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  • 80. At 3:38pm on 14 Aug 2008, Vinamra wrote:

    Nice 1 Phil...but i want 2 remind u tht liverpool were Highest goal scoring team in Pl last season..lost only 4 .....Torres....cant play all 60 odd mathes throughout the season....in comes keane kyut ....dont forget about Babel.he was outstanding in second half last year...didint get too many starts though....the only thing which is off a problem is one on left wing......thts it....ths why barry was so important.......by inclusion of Barry into the squad...he coud have played an old school 4-1-2-1-2.....Thts all Liverpool have quality in all the areas except that left flank...still couple weeks to go in this transfer window....u never know in comes Silva or Barry...... For me this is the best crop of players Rafa has got in his whole tenure at anfeild.

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  • 81. At 3:42pm on 14 Aug 2008, Vinamra wrote:

    Nice One Phil.But remember tht liverpool were Highest goal scoring team in Pl last season.lost only 4.Torres cant play all 60 odd mathes throughout the season,in comes keane kyut dont forget about Babel.He was outstanding in second half last year ,didint get too many starts though.The only thing which is off a problem is one on left wing and thts it.Ths why barry was so important.by inclusion of Barry into the squad he could have played an old school 4-1-2-1-2. Where gerrad could hav played upahead or on the wing. Liverpool have quality in all the areas except that left flank.Still couple weeks to go in this transfer window,you never know in comes Silva or Barry. For me this is the best crop of players Rafa has got in his whole tenure at anfeild.

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  • 82. At 3:43pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    IstampoolTIM - I'm not sure what position you're playing Barry in here. 4-2-3-1? I agree that Barry is a better choice than Alonso for that, but I don't see how he's worth 18m to do it. Barry doesn't have a place in 4-4-2 for Liverpool. Mascherano is clearly the better choice for a defensive midfielder in a 4-4-2.

    I agree that, given their fondness for 4-2-3-1, they need another defensive midfielder. But I don't see it as a larger issue than a winger, and I don't see an 18m Barry as the best choice for it.

    jgpl001 - I share your enthusiasm for Man U, but you're a fair bit harsh on Liverpool. Mascherano and Reina belong on anybody's list of great players in the EPL. I'd probably take Van der Sar as best goalie in the Prem, but my Prem XI would definitely have Mascherano, Gerrard, and Torres in it, and I'd put Reina on the bench in a heartbeat.

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  • 83. At 3:45pm on 14 Aug 2008, ukctstrider wrote:

    I think the Keane signing is a good one. He is a decent all round player with pace, fair technical ability, and a good eye for goal. He is consistent enough to get 15 goals a season and that's what Liverpool need.

    That said Liverpool have no chance at all of winning the title. The arguement about the matches against the top 3 come down to this:
    Liverpool played well in tight games, but fundamentally don't have enough match winner to break through these tough games. Gerrard and Torres that's it (Maybe Alonso).
    United have:
    Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez, Giggs, Scholes, Nani, Anderson
    Chelsea have:
    Ballack, Lampard, Cole, SWP, Drogba, Anelka

    This is the main difference between good premiership sides and the top two. Look at Everton, Villa, Portsmouth... good teams but lacking in players who can turn a match.

    Barry would have been a good signing for Liverpool. Although I wouldn't count him as an out and out match winner, I think he's the type of player who gets the best out of your best players and as such is worth the money. As Villa didn't want or need to sell him the price represented his value to them, not the value to the open market. If they needed to sell him to fund another transfer he'd have gone for something in the region of £12M.

    This season Liverpool will move away from the chasing pack (positions 5+) and will battle with Arsenal for 3rd.

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  • 84. At 3:45pm on 14 Aug 2008, NotSuperHans wrote:

    First off, good article. Hopefully there can be a good (realistic) discussion in the comments before things descend into inevitable trolling.

    I actually agree with you for the most part (besides the point about Torres being rested, which has been addressed). Last night was just One Of Those Nights, I think-- Liverpool wasn't nearly so woeful in the preseason and they played (amongst others) Villareal, who aren't too shabby. (That ended in a slightly undeserved 1-0 win, but it was more of a boring match than an actively awful one for Liverpool.) That being said, it was a rubbish display and should've been able to at least give Standard Liege a bit of a go, with or without Steven Gerrard.

    Anyway, the width's the thing. It appears that Benitez wants to get it from the fullbacks. Haven't seen much of Degen this year, and Dossena I don't think is rubbish, so much as not yet used to the tempo he'll need to be at for PL games. I'd chalk it down to having played in a slightly slower Serie A, but I wouldn't write him off yet. I would also take a fit Aurelio (bit of an oxymoron there!) over him at until he gets used to the league.
    Arbeloa I never quite rated-- in a perfect world Liverpool would have Dani Alves, and that problem would be solved. But 8m in 2006 was apparently far too much for David Moores, while 7m was fine. Whatever.

    What I would also hope to happen is that Liverpool as a team believes they can challenge, and that the supporters get behind them at every single game. If winning the league were simply down to squad strength, Chelsea would've walked it since 2004. I think strength of mind will be the hardest thing to address this year for Liverpool, and the boardroom will not make that any easier for the team. A great atmosphere at every league game, whether it's WBA away or Man United at home, would also give an extra boost.

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  • 85. At 3:46pm on 14 Aug 2008, nostREDamus wrote:

    Having supported Liverpool since 1964, I naturally HOPE and BELIEVE LFC will win the EPL every year, however I am fairly CERTAIN they will not unless a world class winger and a solid right back are transferred in before 31.08.08.

    A few comments about Rafa Benitez. In short, I do not think he can win the EPL because he simply does not understand the english game. More important,I would question his judgement momentarily.

    Firstly, I find it difficult to understand why he signs Degen(free transfer), who was ill most of last season at Dortmund and leaves two other swiss internationals, Lichtsteiner(2-3 million) and Behrami(4-5 million) out of the equation. The latter are quality players, certainly far better than Degen.

    Secondly, it is incomprehensible that he wants to sign Barry. Defensive midfield is not where Liverpool is lacking. Most would agree that CREATIVITY in offensive play, especially on the flanks is where the club falls short.

    The man is stubborn and many faithful Liverpool supporters have fallen for it. This stubborness reminds many of Bill Shankly and is seen as a strength as are his cryptical interviews which would not even excite an exegete.

    Stubbordness is not a bad thing at times but not when former players, neutral experts and many Liverpool supporters have been crying out for over two years now that at least one world class winger is needed. Perhaps Rafa now believes he has sorted this out with Roy Keane!

    Please excuse the last remark, it was somewhat cynical. I am sorry but ever since the Reading match last year when Liverpool were trailing 1-3 and Benitez substituted Torres and Gerrard with 25 minutes to go I have become so. NEVER in the history of Liverpool Football Club can I recall a manager conceding a game that could still be turned around.

    Liverpool supporters argue that Benitez has a proven record: I say he does not regarding the title we all want most, a title of which LFC will no longer be the record holder as long as Rafa Benitez stays at the club.

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  • 86. At 3:47pm on 14 Aug 2008, Aaron wrote:

    The problem for liverpool is simply the lack of match changers in their squad, eg man utd have several, rooney, ronaldo, scholes,tevez whereas liverpool only have torres and gerrard

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  • 87. At 3:48pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    ukctstrider - Again, a bit harsh. If you're taking Anelka, Nani, Wright-Phillips, and Anderson as match-winners, you've got to have Babel, Keane, and certainly Alonso on the list. (Nani and Anderson could make their way to a class above those players, but they aren't there yet)

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  • 88. At 3:48pm on 14 Aug 2008, romanteek wrote:

    I think Liverpool rely too much on Gerrard for creativity without him in the team Liverpool always lack ideas of how to break teams down, the type of player i wanted Liverpool to sign was a creative midfielder someone like luka modric i think he will be a great signing for Spurs, its ok having world class strikers but you need supply from midfield, i think Liverpool will be even more defensively strong this year we have looked superb at the back especially with excellent cover from the new Brasilian goalkeeper. So to conclude I think Liverpool still need this type of player whether it be cole, barry or silva i think we will push for the title with this one extra player, and only Benitez knows who that player is. outta here!

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  • 89. At 3:52pm on 14 Aug 2008, soccerlifer wrote:

    Your write-up pretty much hits the nail on the head, but I disagree about last year's momentum being lost because Torres was left out of a couple of games. Torres can't play in every game and will be rested from time to time - as he was late in the season with little ill effect. It's the quality of his replacement in those games that needs to be addresed and I think Keane goes some way to fulfill that. Besides, the poorest run of the season, in January, had Torres ever present. Yet, Keane wasn't bought to seat on the bench either so Rafa needs to figure out how he wants to line up. I don't think Liverpool will win the title this year either, but you can't deny that the squad is that much stronger this year than it's ever been. I know Rafa's been at this for a few years now but consider that a good number of his first team core have only been in the team for 1 or 2 years (Torres, Mascherano, Babel, Skrtel, Benayoun). Last season wasn't a disaster - only four losses, but you need consistency to challenge and I'll expect Liverpool to be closer this year. But they are still a few players behind Man Utd and Chelsea.

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  • 90. At 3:55pm on 14 Aug 2008, 5ForKeeps wrote:

    I have to agree with some of the sentiments made in Phil's blog, usually I would be critical for his bashing of Liverpool in the past.

    The point for me as a Liverpool fan this season is to make a title challenge, not neccsarily win it but show that we are capable of winning it the season after next. There is a big gap to bridge 11 points, we got it down from 20 plus points gap last season to the year before.

    But again Phil you are been influenced by the "rotation-zonal marking" brigade orchesterated by fellow colleagues in the media.

    Your comment;

    "Liverpool's early momentum last term was killed off by his tendency to meddle needlessly, inexplicably leaving Fernando Torres out of eminently winnable games at home to Birmingham and away to Portsmouth."

    In regards to Torres, he played 33 out of 38 Premier League games last season. He got injured on Internation duty twice and missed 4 of the games due to this. He was rotated against Pompey which was only 4 or 5 games in. If you check the facts Liverpool went unbeaten in the League till December. Liverpool were not too far behind at that stage in terms of points to Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea who were the top 3 at the time. From the time we lost for the first time in the League away to Reading on the 8th December till January 31st which accounted for 9 games. Liverpool managed to get out of 27 points only 10. In the previous games before that we managed 30 points out of a possible 42 which was very respectable. So the rotation myth, there is no facts to back it up why it doesn't work because clearly in the first half of last season by meaning 14 games we managed a good total in compared to previous years our start to the seasons have been awful.

    Consistency throughout the season is important only for those 9 games if Liverpool had managed to get a result against Utd even a draw incorporated with not dropping the points at home to Villa and Wigan during that period we would have been right up there with Utd. The fact we didn't lose to Chelsea or Arsenal in the League last season and we should have beaten Chelsea twice in fact. Was an improvement on previous years where we always lost away to all of the other big three and in some cases at home too Utd and Chelsea since Rafa has arrived.

    On the last nights performance, it was very poor. Surely we can't play as bad as that again during the course of the season. It seemed to me Liege wanted it more than our players except Pepe Reina of course.

    Liverpool will not only challenge this year but they will also be ahead of Chelsea. Scolari, although a great manager at International level has come into a what I would call a "poison chalice" hotseat. A few bad results as we seen with Mourinho who did a lot for Chelsea got sacked. Scolari on the other hand has a lot too prove. Starting with Harry Redknapp and Pompey this Sunday. Will be interesting to see how he fares.

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  • 91. At 3:56pm on 14 Aug 2008, penkoks wrote:

    even as a liverpool fan i don't believe that the title will be fought outside old trafford and stamford bridge. chelsea are full of world class players, in every position. their attacking options are vast due to their strength in cech, terry, carvalho and essien. for chelsea to falter cech needs to break and then another of their other world class players has to miss long periods of the season. even if this were to happen, scolari seems to have put belief back into chelsea. the commitment of lampard and others including drogba compare to the boat shakers at old trafford and the emirates. they had the best form in the premier league, despite giving united a 3 point lead after one game, under grant last season. but chelsea lacked belief, something scolari has given teams at international level.

    united are a fantastic premiership squad, like chelsea. they have a world class goalie with two world class centre backs and will not lose many games as a result, again like chelsea. their recent lack of forward potency without rooney and ronaldo shows united's weakness. but sir alex will get someone in, and they will be good. last year ronaldo was the best player in the world. his dad died, he grieved, then became a man and realised his potential. became the player his ability allowed him to be. (unlike lamps) however, he may become the boy of old again and fergie may suffer as a result. this and injuries at the back are all that will prevent a title challenge.

    and finally liverpool. at last they have gone back to the boot room to promote staff, bringing back the liverpool way instead of the spanish armada that hes been mooted of late. this style of setup can only inspire the likes of gerrard, who i believe may replace the liver bird on liverpool's crest upon retirement.he can only play behind torres in benitez's mind but hopefully with babel away, keane will got to the left. find his form and then be able to play with torres when babel returns and then pop gerrard a little deeper, scholes '96-'00 would be nice. keane has to be used as a sheringham or beitez will filter his squads talent once again. but if luck evades united and chelsea and big things go bad, liverpool may be there or there abouts to challenge, but i don't think it's our season yet.

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  • 92. At 3:57pm on 14 Aug 2008, NotSuperHans wrote:

    Addendum: I'm really, really, really, really sick of the Barry transfer, but not enough to point out that there were faults on both sides regarding the Barry transfer. MON first stood firm in his decision not to sell Barry, and then stood firm on his 18m valuation of him, and then stood firm on his club's decision to stick by an arbitrary deadline to make a bid, and then stood firm in his declaration that Liverpool had until August 31, like any other team, to make a bid.

    Enough of that. 3rd place, Chelsea will probably win it this year. But we'll have the Champions League (I can be optimistic, can't I?!)

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  • 93. At 3:58pm on 14 Aug 2008, ukctstrider wrote:

    "Again, a bit harsh. If you're taking Anelka, Nani, Wright-Phillips, and Anderson as match-winners, you've got to have Babel, Keane, and certainly Alonso on the list."

    I didn't include Keane because I was talking about last seasons matches and he was signed in the closed season. He'd certainly make the list. You're probably right about Alonso but he's never stood out for me. Babel has been shockingly poor in every match I've seen him play in.

    The addition of Keane is what will further the gap from the rest of the pack but it's not enough to gain ground on the top two.

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  • 94. At 3:58pm on 14 Aug 2008, Long 'n Short Of It wrote:

    jgpl001 - usual MU claptrap.

    If yer really a fan of 35 years then you know a season's a long time...and anything can happen. I don't try to predict the housing prices a year from now and nor should you.

    Your comments lack any real insight. "Rubbish brand" - no explanation as to why, no details...
    "The structure and politics of the club have been wrong" - you'd have to be working within Anfield to know that - and I don't think you have, have you?

    What I hope happens is that all this shortsightedness (author included) will come back to bite your behinds...because the Scousers are right to point out here that Torres was never "dropped" or "rested"...same stock comments from people not reseraching just repeating.

    The really strange thing is that a lot of games I've seen against the Big 4 - we play well enough to win and then don't (only happened once against Utd last year - for a change!) - and yes that dodgy Malouda pen cost us 2 pts against CFC - EVERYTIME this happens - I look across at a pal who supports Utd or CFC and say "yer lucky to take the 3 pts there" - they come out with the same remarkable delusions...and I say "were we watching the same game!!?" - perhaps this is genuinely indicative of the average footy fan. Blinkered.

    In short, the margins are much tighter than people think - and that's probbaly because they read articles like this one and believe every word!!

    Not saying we'll win (wouldn't want to sum it all up in August like most people seem to want to here - somehow!)...

    Liverpool will be close. Closer than, no doubt, YOU think. Watch out!

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  • 95. At 4:01pm on 14 Aug 2008, simongooner wrote:

    Balanced article Phil.

    It's stunning to see a Robbie Keane command such a price tag. The truth is i don't just see what Keane has done to deserve such a price tag. I would rather be happier if an Ade of Arsenal was given his demanded pay rise(though he still does not deserve it) than see a Robbie cart away with that huge price. Anyway it's one of those reasons why a ronaldo would want to leave man U.

    I do not expect any title challenge from liverpool of course, neither do i see them conquerors of europe, i'll rather favour chelsea for both but u never know, football could be magical at times that a Hull city team (bbbbbbbbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) could win it!!!!!!!!!!! (In another planet i guess).

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  • 96. At 4:01pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    romanteek - I think you're falling to the same misconception that Chelsea seems to have - that the solution to all problems is more central attacking midfielders. Just as it's unclear how, exactly, Chelsea would want Kaka when they have Lampard, Ballack, and Deco, I am unable to figure out why what Liverpool needs is an attacking midfielder to sub for Gerrard when they have with Alonso, Keane, and Benayoun.

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  • 97. At 4:01pm on 14 Aug 2008, kamatage wrote:

    Abolutely disagree. you looking things from a last years perspective. Banitez has always been too complex for that.
    Here is the deal. first of all it will be a different formation that will be as fluid as last seasons and that formation will be something like between 5-3-2, 3-4-1-1-2 and 3-2-3-2. notice that i am not saying we will be playing one of these formations. i am saying all in one. those who were at stambul will probly know what i am talking about
    the first one will be be when we are on defendong, second one our nutural and third atacking.
    this formation acomodates the attacking full backs and Keane (now you see the logic behing buying them and then keane). whilst Gerrard retains his prefered possition which is play-nay-where-you-like.
    and just for the record, I am fully behind the rotation policy and suggestiong that liverpool didnt challenge last season because we didn't play (or risk to be exact) torres for two games is as crazy as claiming Nevelle won the tittle for UNTD last season.

    I can smell the title and two cups a minimum

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  • 98. At 4:03pm on 14 Aug 2008, Long 'n Short Of It wrote:

    Babel shockingly poor?

    You really haven't watched him have you.

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  • 99. At 4:05pm on 14 Aug 2008, gc wrote:

    Liverpool have not made any significant progress, losing Crouch to gain Keane is not the 10 points needed to overhaul Manu and Chelsea. Benitez has not made the signings neccesary to make significant progress. There are no super-talented youngsters and there have been no world class signings other than Torres. Why not Villa? Eto'o? Arsharvin? All of these could have been gotten with close to the 20m spent on Keane.

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  • 100. At 4:05pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    ukctstrider - I was very impressed with Babel against Arsenal in the CL, and have generally liked the pace he brings in on the wing. I think he needs to be better balanced on the other wing, but I've been very pleased with him as a signing. 10 goals in 48 games is a fine record for a very young winger - on par with Joe Cole's league record, for instance.

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  • 101. At 4:07pm on 14 Aug 2008, lukeyboy69 wrote:


    It's not all about squad strength, Liverpool could have bought 3-4 of the best players in the world to add to their squad and i still wouldn't say they would oust United or Chelsea.

    A consistent winning mentality and confidence throughout the course of a season is something Liverpool lack and it can't be bought.

    These qualities that Ferguson and Mourinho have etched into the heart of their teams shouldn't be ignored.

    Liverpool can turn it on in short bursts eg. champions league success, but throughout the course of the season it's something the club lack overall.

    And long may that continue!!

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  • 102. At 4:08pm on 14 Aug 2008, Mikewsa wrote:

    Well, the 4th place specialists will do it again - unless thay are lucky enough for Arsenal's youngsters to tire and let them claim 3rd.

    Doubt it though. If they don't finish 4th is most likely to be because one of the "small teams" (like the other half of town, or the one who wont sell out to them) has beaten them down a peg or two.

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  • 103. At 4:10pm on 14 Aug 2008, Mikewsa wrote:

    Liverpool to take up motor racing instead, and come fourth in their Triumph :-)

    Unfortunately, they will also come fourth in the Premiership.

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  • 104. At 4:10pm on 14 Aug 2008, The Trawler wrote:

    Liverpool have a decent team and a useful squad. What they don't have is a true collective spirit; no-one can tell me that Steven Gerrard is a man with full confidence in his team-mates, for instance. And no-one can tell me that Gerrard himself doesn't therefore take on too much trying to be this Stevie Superman G character the media bang on about. This leads Benitez to try and give him less responsibility in a freer role, but what now, with Keane's arrival likely to see Gerrard back in centre midfield where his tactical and positional failings are so regularly exposed to the detriment of the side?

    Anyway it matters little: I'll be very surprised if Liverpool manage to play at Arsenal's level this season. They certainly have no chance of playing at Chelsea's, which means they won't be anything like good enough game in game out to challenge for the title.

    Manchester United can be expected to make it 18 league titles and become the first team ever to win 3-in-a-row twice. Liverpool fans may not have too much patience with Benitez after that.

    Personally I think they should concentrate on trying to stop Standard Liege, the Belgian champions, scoring at Anfield. The CL will again be their only chance of competing with the top teams, but based on last night, the return could very well develop into another Brondby.

    Let's hope so, eh ;-)

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  • 105. At 4:18pm on 14 Aug 2008, ukctstrider wrote:

    "I was very impressed with Babel against Arsenal in the CL, and have generally liked the pace he brings in on the wing. I think he needs to be better balanced on the other wing, but I've been very pleased with him as a signing. 10 goals in 48 games is a fine record for a very young winger - on par with Joe Cole's league record, for instance. "

    Fair play. My assessment of him was good pace but no end product but I agree that 10 in 48 is quite reasonable. My only question would be how many of those goals have come against top opposition?

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  • 106. At 4:26pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Mikewsa - The fourth place specialists?

    Since the Prem was established Liverpool has done as follows:

    1st: 0 times
    2nd: 1
    3rd: 5
    4th: 5
    5th: 2
    6th: 1
    7th: 1
    8th: 1

    That's not "fourth place specialists" by any measure.

    Come on. There are plenty of reasons to dump on Liverpool, but at least play with basic facts.

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  • 107. At 4:26pm on 14 Aug 2008, biscan_kop_legend wrote:

    Good article Phil, I agree with you. A good season for us would be 3rd and much closer to the top two (within 6-7 points of top).

    I have to say though, slightly moving the topic from Keane's worth - why do people keep putting Carragher at right-back in their proposed line-ups? Surely just because we have two other good centre halves doesn't mean we have to play our vice-captain out of position in order to play them all at once does it?

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  • 108. At 4:33pm on 14 Aug 2008, skrittak wrote:

    20mil would have been better invested in a Quaresma, Semoli or even try and poach Mancini (absolute quality who went for only 10mil!) before that deal went through.

    Babel is an excellent prospect but still needs time to learn and develop.

    The biggest problem I see for liverpool is who is pushing for first team places? Pennant, Voronin, Yossi and arguably Kuyt. Hardly going to keep many back 4's awake at night are those four.

    Dossena is an excellent player but I think will take at least 4-6 months to slot in. I agree with you Phil about Keane, proven quality in the league and I believe he's still only 26? Will that make him value for money over the length of his contract? I suppose only time will tell. Can't see Liverpool challenging for the title but I expect them to better their points haul significantly.

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  • 109. At 4:33pm on 14 Aug 2008, mweb6161 wrote:

    Dossena is the worst player i have seen in a Liverpool shirt in ages, Keane's best years are well behind him and 20M is a joke really.
    Barry could walk into that team and improve it no end at ANY price.

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  • 110. At 4:34pm on 14 Aug 2008, BigShifty wrote:

    Sigh.....Torres was not "rotated"for B'ham and Portsmouth. He was on the bench because he was coming back from injury on both occasions.

    So actually it was not 'needless' meddling, but hey, everyone's an expert

    ----------------------------------------------------

    Fair enough in those two games, but you cant just cover your ears and sing lalalalalala to pretend that Benitez' rotation didnt hurt the team, you were stop start for ages, then just stop for a while, finally got going towards the end as the team found their rhythm.

    If you are waiting for till February/March to find rhythm then something is wrong.


    P.S.
    I gave up reading about half way down and the debate may be concluded already.....but
    Bellamy better than Keane. You're an idiot, a complete idiot. Just be thankful you are not a manager cos you would be up poo creek by now.

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  • 111. At 4:34pm on 14 Aug 2008, ScottyBenitez wrote:

    As a Kopite, I'm certain we are at least 3 players short of a title challenge. I would agree with what you have written except for the fact that Rafa was not needlessly meddling. He started Torres from the bench because of injury. I believe there was only 1 game last season when he was rotated out.

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  • 112. At 4:37pm on 14 Aug 2008, BigShifty wrote:

    Keane's best years are well behind him???

    Just another throwaway opinion based on nothing


    Most spurs fans I know will conclude that, despite an overall poor showing, Berbatov to a certain extent, and definitely Keane, were the proverbial tits last season.

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  • 113. At 4:39pm on 14 Aug 2008, end2endgame wrote:

    I don't think Liverpool will win the Title this season because I think It'll take a season for Keane and Torres to fully gel and get to know each other's game - which means they could be unstoppable in 09/10. If that happens it'll definitely propel them to the title. Think they will finish 2nd ahead of United (even with Berbatov) but behind Chelsea. Liverpool also need a quality winger who has skill as well as pace and stop wasting time trying to get Barry who is a little overated anyway. He's a useful player but not a world beater. If they can get a winger like this and Keane and Torres become prolific then there will be no stopping them.

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  • 114. At 4:43pm on 14 Aug 2008, mch100 wrote:

    A well written article Phil.

    I'm also a Man Utd fan of over 32 years and before you start going "here we go again"....read on.

    Growing up as a Utd fan in the 70s and 80s wasn't particularly enjoyable! Liverpool were a machine in those days. Ok, we did well in various cup games but that was it. Usually gave Liverpool a game in the league too but just too inconsistent to challenge for the title.

    The Liverpool situation now is similar to Utd back then, at the start of the season we used to think right this will be our year. Especially in the 80s. I hated Liverpool but like the previous Utd poster pointed out, you had to admire them.

    After all those years of having Liverpool sucess rammed down my throat, I find it quite amusing that Liverpool finish so far behind us in the league every year.

    Will Liverpool get back to that kind of glory? Not with Rafa in charge you won't.

    Yes, i don't know anything about the club, why would I? but i know that during the summer months back then, Paisley, Moran, Dalgleish etc used to only bring in a player if they really needed him. Eg: Lawrenson to replace Thompson or Dalgleish to replace Keegan. I don't think any of those managers would have considered Robbie Keane good enough for a start.

    So boys, you may be a little closer this year but until you start to show a little continuity in selection, you've got no chance.

    18-17 is going to become 18-18....

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  • 115. At 4:43pm on 14 Aug 2008, BigShifty wrote:

    Sorry to keep on singling out comments for criticism instead of making an argument of my own but some of these are just not thought out.

    Example.

    -----------------------------------------------------

    "Since the Prem was established Liverpool has done as follows:

    1st: 0 times
    2nd: 1
    3rd: 5
    4th: 5
    5th: 2
    6th: 1
    7th: 1
    8th: 1

    That's not "fourth place specialists" by any measure.

    --------------------------------------------------

    Before Chelsea became a super power Liverpool were the third place team, since the Russian invasion they have become a 4th place team,
    Look at your own table again considering that,

    It pretty much defeats your own argument

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  • 116. At 4:47pm on 14 Aug 2008, manutd1982 wrote:

    Vinamra, where do you get your facts from, Liverpool were not the leading goalscorers last year, and they didnt even have the best goal difference, they were in fact the 4th highest goalscorers behind, United, Arsenal and Villa.

    The fact is in Benitez's 4 seasons in the Premier league he has finished 11, 21, 9 and 37 points behind the champions, that is nowhere near challenging for a title. Youre clearly not good enough and I find it rather insulting and delusional that any Liverpool fan even considers themselves of having a chance of finishing in the top 3.

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  • 117. At 4:47pm on 14 Aug 2008, radiskilly wrote:

    rchrdav - i think it's important to recognise that when Benitez arrived at Anfield, he inherited a side which had successively finished 5th and 4th in the leaugue, with 64 and 60 points respectively, and had been knocked out of the previous two UEFA cups by Celtic and Marseille. The squad included the likes of Traore, Biscan, Cheyrou, Smicer, Diao, Diouf, LeTallec, Cisse and Baros - all of whom are now playing their football at a lower level. Benitez needed to completely overhaul Houllier's squad as there simply was not enough quality there (the usual response to this is that they won the Champions League, but their success here was a combination of luck, Steven Gerrard, Didi Hamann, Luis Garcia, and Benitez being a better coach than Houllier). He has managed to overhaul, and has vastly improved, Houllier's squad, but of course he has not been able to spend large amounts of money on every position, he has needed to buy a number of squad players at low cost to replace those he sold (at low cost). Now, over the past 4 years, since Benitez arrived, Man Utd and Chelsea have not had to completely overhaul previously weak squads, they have simply spent large amounts of money improving what were already considerably strong squads. Benitez' outlay at Liverpool has been considerably less than Chelsea have spent in the same period, and also less than Man Utd (see the not exactly pro - Benitez article http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/european/whats-it-all-about-rafa-803454.html), and all this while having to reshape an entire squad rather than simply strengthening an already expensively assembled group of players. I personally think Benitez has done an excellent job.

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  • 118. At 4:51pm on 14 Aug 2008, Sweaty_Badger wrote:

    Rafa's transfers have painted us into a corner but formation-wise it's not all bad - why?

    4-1-3-2

    We have great central defenders. Just need to settle on a RB and LB and give them some games so they can get used to the system.

    What ever happened to just playing one holding midfielder? Some of England's finest moments in recent years have come when playing someone just in front of the central defenders and Mascherano is perfect there.

    3 attacking midfielders, two are obvious - Babel on right, Gerrard in centre. Gerrard has the engine to get back and help Mash if he's getting overrun and you'd still have 4 attackers to counter attack.

    Then we have the nightmare left AM/wing - why the hell didn't we get the chequebook out for Aiden McGeady. When you consider all the BS valuations that Rafa and others have been responsible for touting around and you hear someone with his talent could go for 10mil - he would have jumped at the chance of playing CL alongside his country captain. 19 assists and a decent handful of goals last season, SPL player and young player of the year, creative, quick......

    Even though McGeady has signed a new 5 yr deal I still think they should pursue him, but in his absence I would look at Arda Turan, who may cost 15mil but looks like he could also bring more pace and creativity to the team (hence Wenger's reported interest).

    Then you have Torres and Keano up front and things are looking pretty good.

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  • 119. At 4:51pm on 14 Aug 2008, Rob3108 wrote:

    The main thing which halted the early momentum last season was one thing. The loss of Daniel Agger to injury, and the subsequent loss of Alonso wasn't helpful either.

    YES I know it was the draws that killed us, and I KNOW that on the surface it seems it was the forward areas of the team's inability to score enough goals that was the primary reason, but if you look at it closely, the real reason is evident.

    The weakness at centre back (with Hyypia well past it) lead in turn to an over-dependence on the midfield players defending duties, thus shackling the creative freedom they showed in the opening games.

    Supporting my argument, we only really got going again once Skrtel was brought in and found his feet.

    Benitez seems to be looking for the wing play for the up-coming season coming from the full-back (wing-back) positions. I believe he will deploy a 4 man back line against most teams, however I wouldn't be surprised to see him use 3 (Carragher, Agger, Skrtel) with the wingbacks then deployed in a more advanced position. This would solve the issue of Carragher being relegated to 3rd choice centre defender, which, and it hurts to say it, is almost a certainty this season.

    So a 3-2-3-2 (one advanced striker with one playing off him), but mostly a 4-2-3-1 (with the 3 maybe Babel/Benayoun, Keane, Kuyt/Pennant for example).

    With the backline giving the midfield the impetus to attack more freely, I can see us really doing it this year.

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  • 120. At 4:54pm on 14 Aug 2008, Rob3108 wrote:

    I think that the previous comment, about only 1 holding midfielder is very valid given the Masch is the best at his position IN THE WORLD, a 4-1-2-2-1 would be most likely in that case...

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  • 121. At 4:55pm on 14 Aug 2008, Rob3108 wrote:

    Oh one more thing... Has everyone seen Dossena's overlapping down the left in the pre-seasone games??? BREATHTAKING!

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  • 122. At 4:57pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    giganticivan_bosnjak -

    So we'll measure from 2003-04?

    OK. Then we have exactly the same number of 3rd and 4th place finishes, with 2 - Liverpool got 3rd in 05-06, and in 06-07. They got 4th in 07-08 and 03-04. And then 5th in 04-05.

    If you're going to single my comment out for special criticism, try not to get things completely wrong.

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  • 123. At 4:58pm on 14 Aug 2008, NiallSF wrote:

    Phil, I'm a Life Long Liverpool Fan and, although it pains me to say this but I actually agree with you on the fact that we are still not good enough to overtake Chelsea and Man Utd.

    I feel we are still 2 players short of a First League Title since 1990 and those come in form of 2 wingers. My only feeling is that Rafa doesn't plan to use the "wings" in the conventional sense so maybe it might not be such an issue.

    I also think Barry is worth closer to 8m than 18m and am glad Alonso is still at Anfield.

    At the end of the day, we will all know a lot more 3 months from now...that's why we play the games.

    Go LIVERPOOL!

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  • 124. At 4:59pm on 14 Aug 2008, Sweaty_Badger wrote:

    I agree Rob3108 - Mash is magic, but 4-1-2-2-1 ... come on. What about 4-1-1-1-1-1-1, get the music on and do the conga..

    let's have some width

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  • 125. At 5:00pm on 14 Aug 2008, biscan_kop_legend wrote:

    "Carragher being relegated to 3rd choice centre defender, which, and it hurts to say it, is almost a certainty this season."

    I'll say again, why exactly?
    The guy is our vice-captain, a leader, and in the top 4/5 centre-halves in the premiership! Agger and Skrtel are a definite combination for the future - but not yet surely?

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  • 126. At 5:03pm on 14 Aug 2008, expertdalton8 wrote:

    Phil, in one of your comments you said that Degan was not first choice for an average Swiss side at Euro 2008, but actually he was injured and then unfit in that tournament.

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  • 127. At 5:03pm on 14 Aug 2008, bannedgunner wrote:



    "Sorry to keep on singling out comments for criticism instead of making an argument of my own but some of these are just not thought out.

    Example.

    -----------------------------------------------------

    Since the Prem was established Liverpool has done as follows:

    1st: 0 times
    2nd: 1
    3rd: 5
    4th: 5
    5th: 2
    6th: 1
    7th: 1
    8th: 1

    That's not "fourth place specialists" by any measure"
    _______

    Well that averages to 4.25 ranking.
    Your median finish 4.5,
    They have finished 4th more than any other club in PL. They finished 4th as often if not more than they finished in any other place.

    When the did finish above 4th (with the exception of time they were 2nd), they were not in running and one of the top teams had a big drop out.

    As counter example Arsenal finished 4th twice in last 4 years, but before and after their 4th place finishes they were challenging for title.

    Yes Pool sometimess finishes higher than 4th but its because one fo the usual contender slips or has a bad year.

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  • 128. At 5:10pm on 14 Aug 2008, RAFAELGAFFA wrote:

    I think it is very fair assesment my Phil McNulty to be honest. Can't disagree with much of it. As a diehard Liverpool fan it pains me to see our shortcomings every season.
    However, yet again people have resorted to comparing the spending at the top 4 clubs since Benitez has been at the helm. You can dress figures up any which way you want. Basically figures on their own are often misleading. You cannot only look at the money Benitez has spent. You have to offset this against the money he has re-couped from sales, and also look at how far he has had to stretch his money. Yes he has been well supported since becoming manager in the transfer market, but frankly, with the mess that previous regimes have left our club, I think that Benitez has worked miracles so far in his Liverpool career. He has literally had to re-build the club from top to bottom. Yes this has been expensive, but during the same time United and Chelsea have merely been fine tuning their squads by targeting specific players. For all their managerial credentials, I seriously doubt whether Fergie, Wenger, Mourinho or anybody else for that matter could have closed a 30 point gap 4 years ago down to a 10 point gap now. Ferguson had to wait until Liverpool started to go downhill at the beginning of the 90's before United started to close the gap. When Liverpool were at their peak between 86 - 90 ( during the start of Fergies reign ) did United close the gap on Liverpool at all? No. Fergie was one game from the sack yet look at him now.
    All I am trying to say is that I think Benitez should be given a bit more credit for the work he has done at Liverpool. Obviously he hasn't won the league yet, but in comparison to the positions of the top teams at the start of his spell in charge, I actually feel Liverpool have made the most progress during this time.
    I am not knocking United, Chelsea and Arsenal. They are all fantastic teams in their own rights. It would just be nice if people looked at the bigger picture once in a while.
    I think Liverpool and Arsenal are battling it out for 3rd and 4th again this year, whilst United and Chelsea contest the title.

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  • 129. At 5:13pm on 14 Aug 2008, jemthered wrote:

    Firstly it is ludicrous to write off a player or team after one bad performance. Liege are no mugs and they threw everything into it last night...yes Liverpool should have the class to have seen them off but I'm confident they will get the job done at Anfield.

    In terms of a title challenge it is going to be incredibly difficult to overhaul the top 2 but not impossible. There are two key areas that Rafa needs to sort out - the well documented problem on the wings, particularly the right and defending corners and freekicks into the box. Liverpool seem to concede so many goals in this way and considering the quality of the defenders this shouldn't be happening. Whether it is zonal marking or lack of communication it needs addressing.

    With regard to the wings, I think we will see a good season from Babel and I think Benayoun who has been excellent in pre-season offers something extra in terms of creativity and quality. It is the right flank that concerns me the most..Pennant should be off-loaded and Kuyt for all his effort is not a natural winger. So the question remains, why hasn't Rafa been pursuing a winger this summer?

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  • 130. At 5:14pm on 14 Aug 2008, radiskilly wrote:

    Rafaelgaffa - feel free to go ahead and repeat the points I made earlier.

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  • 131. At 5:18pm on 14 Aug 2008, RAFAELGAFFA wrote:

    Apologies radiskilly, I read through a few of the comments, but didn't have the time to do them all. Didn't see your post, although obviously you are spot on. I just get anoyed when people don't look at the facts. Too many people believe everything they hear on Skysports or that they read in the Sun.

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  • 132. At 5:23pm on 14 Aug 2008, Hodgey - Viva Hernández wrote:

    No they will not challenge for the title. Ok, maybe they will become a little closer, but not by much. They will pip a flailing Arsenal to third, but won't get too close to Chelsea in second position. To be honest, and not just because I support Manchester Utd, until Rafa Benitez is either out of the club or finally recognises that proven quality in depth wins titles instead of continued average transfers Liverpool won't win the league.

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  • 133. At 5:28pm on 14 Aug 2008, m1santhrope wrote:

    amongst the hysteria of last nights poor show they're 7-1, got to be worth a punt.

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  • 134. At 5:28pm on 14 Aug 2008, croydonrich wrote:

    Ask yourself the following questions:

    How many Liverpool players would get in the man utd or chelsea teams? Take Chelsea -- Torres might edge out Drogba, but not Keane. And Gerrard for Lampard -- again the difference is small in terms of goals and assists i reckon. Carragher may squeeze in. Reina doesnt knock out Cech and Mascherano doesnt knock out Essien.
    So its probably 2-3 players.

    Now they have signed Keane, do Liverpool have a settled pattern of play/formation that will help bring consistency of performance?

    Do Liverpool have potential goalscorers all over the park?

    Do Liverpool have strength in depth in most positions, relative to say Man Utd? Where is the cover for their two match-winners: Torres and Gerrard?

    Finally, on what objective basis can you rate them as serious contenders for the title?

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  • 135. At 5:29pm on 14 Aug 2008, westcountryvilla wrote:

    the person who said liverpool were the highest goalscoring team in the PL last season....
    Man Utd Played 38 Scored 80
    Arsenal Played 38 Scored 74
    Aston Villa Played 38 scored 71
    Liverpool Played 38 Scored 67

    don't look like the highest goalscorers to me

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  • 136. At 5:35pm on 14 Aug 2008, jimmybullard21 wrote:

    no chance of the league in my opinion .... liverpool sign plyers that wouldnt get in the chelsea or man utd 11 .... players lik voronin .. degan (cant even start 4 switzerland) ... dossena .... these boys are below average and this is the reason y liverpool wont win the league 4 the next 5 years .... the lack of quality bought

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  • 137. At 5:35pm on 14 Aug 2008, radiskilly wrote:

    Rafaelgaffa - Agreed. That Rafa hasn't fallen further behind the top two while completely overhauling his squad is actually testament to how well he has used his money. Media pressure on Rafa to challenge the top two is huge, and I fear it will lead to his undoing. Last season 'experts' such as Jamie Redknapp and Dean Saunders were wheeled in to Sky and the BBC to explicitly criticize Rafa's tactics - never mind the fact that Liverpool finished the season on 76 points - their third highest points total since the Premier League began in 1993, and were a whisker (or a Riise) away from their third champions league final in four years.

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  • 138. At 5:37pm on 14 Aug 2008, Cigales wrote:

    "Stop taking every suggestion as a criticism of the scouse nation"

    Do you mind?
    The majority of the scouse nation supports the Peoples Club - EFC

    Feel free to suggest, criticise or otherwise abuse LFC at will!!

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  • 139. At 5:39pm on 14 Aug 2008, Rob3108 wrote:

    Mascherano not better than Essien???? Are you serious???

    Mascherano is without equal in his position, the rest can argue about who's where in the pecking order...

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  • 140. At 5:44pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    croydonrich - Oh, come on. Gerrard is a clean pick over Lampard. Torres's scoring record of 73% (24 goals in 33 league appearances) trumps Drogba's 46% for Chelsea. Carragher is as good as Carvalho. Babel is as good a pick as an aging Giggs, or as Nani, and easily the equal of any winger Chelsea has with the possible exception of Cole. Keane is no Drogba, Rooney, or Tevez, but he's as fine a choice as any other striker Chelsea has, and as good as Berbatov, who Man U seems happy to pay a lot more for than Liverpool did for Keane. Mascherano could go into any team in the world. There's simply not a defensive midfielder I'd even consider picking over him. And Reina is as good a goalkeeper as the Prem has.

    Liverpool has a solid 6 of a starting 11 in any formation that they'd be nuts to think about replacing, and 7 in a 4-4-2. And most of those gaps are, to my mind, in defense, which it's hard to complain about on the whole given how effective a defense they have.

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  • 141. At 5:44pm on 14 Aug 2008, Rob3108 wrote:

    Oh and Man Utd have as much depth as Liverpool???? PLEASE!!! The fact Giggs still gets a, well GIG (sic) says quite a bit.

    As for potential goalscorers, Gerrard, Babel, Kuyt, Benayoun, Keane, Leiva, TORRES, yeah, I think we're pretty well covered.

    Man Utd are an injury to Vidic away from having no hope of silverwear, likewise Liverpool with Agger...

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  • 142. At 5:47pm on 14 Aug 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Liverpool will certainly miss Peter Crouch.

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  • 143. At 5:47pm on 14 Aug 2008, Worst_Firm_In_The_World wrote:

    I predict top at Xmas with incessant crowing from the red half of Liverpool, followed by endless excuses after finishing 5th on the final day.

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  • 144. At 5:49pm on 14 Aug 2008, MurdoMuldoon wrote:

    Give me a break -
    pre season headline every year since 1991
    "can LFC mount a title challenge"
    Can't see it myself

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  • 145. At 6:00pm on 14 Aug 2008, mweb6161 wrote:

    They WILL miss Crouch, Benitez chose to ignore his talents and opt for foreign rubbish instead, Redknap has nouse and knows a decent buy when he sees one.
    I watched the Pool in the Shankly Era, since paisley retired things have spiraled downhill, 4th in the league being decreed satisfactory god help us.

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  • 146. At 6:03pm on 14 Aug 2008, BloodRed_1 wrote:

    Looking at the signings we've made, I can only really see one formation that can work.

    ---------------- Reina
    Arbeloa - Carra. - Agger - Dossena
    ---------- Masch. - Alonso
    ----- Keane - Gerrard - Babel
    ---------------- Torres

    With Mascherano and alonso in the midfield controlling play, Gerrrad continuing in the 'hole' position just off Torres and using Keane and Babel wider as Attacking midfield options.

    The trio (Keane, Babel, Gerrard) are versitle enough to freely switch places, with Keane moving to the middle and Gerrard to the right or Babel and keane switching over and keeping Torres through the middle.

    This will require more from Arbeloa and Dossena down the flanks, putting in crosses from the halfway line but mascherano in the middle will add the support carragher and Agger/Skrtel need.

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  • 147. At 6:03pm on 14 Aug 2008, radiskilly wrote:

    mweb6161 - describing Robbie Keane as "foreign rubbish" seems a bit harsh.

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  • 148. At 6:05pm on 14 Aug 2008, The Truth Is Out There wrote:

    The over-estimation by Scousers of the Liverpool team are mind-boggling. Benayoun and Babel wouldn't get near another top 4 team. Robbie Keane would not be targeted by United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Milan, Barca, Madrid.....
    Jamie Carragher as good as Carvalho? Best laugh I've had all day. I loathe Carvalho, but the man is an incredibly impressive defender, and Jamie "own goal" Carragher is well past it.

    And for the people saying we are unduly harsh on Rafa, I agree that he has brought the team forward, but the key point is that margins of error are much smaller today than they were 20 years ago when Fergie took the helm at United. The fiscal gap between winners and also-rans is much greater, and a team just can't afford to go trophiless for as long anymore. So whether or not his retooling is impressive, it clearly isn't good enough.

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  • 149. At 6:06pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Look, if nothing else, a team doesn't go from 4th to title with Man U and Chelsea lying in the way. No team has ever won the Prem after a season where they finished less than third, and only twice has a team gone from third to winning. Liverpool is not a serious contender for the league this year. They were last year, but not this time.

    That said, they're a team that's rebuilding. The problem is, they're looking at a financially lean time coming up. Their owners don't have the credit to build the club, and they need to embark on an expensive stadium project, which, ask Arsenal, kills you for a few years in the transfer market. Sure, they'll rake it in after that, and in ten years time they have a much higher chance of being dangerous than Man U (which is carrying way, way too dangerous a debt load).

    If they can get into a scrap with United or Chelsea for second and make some smart buys over the next year then we can talk about being 09-10 champions. They're a team that has been consistently moving in the right direction for the past five years or so. But, honestly, if it doesn't happen in 09-10, it's not going to happen until the new stadium is paid through.

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  • 150. At 6:06pm on 14 Aug 2008, mweb6161 wrote:

    HaHa maybe your right Radiskilly, but Keane aint worth two of Crouch that's for sure.

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  • 151. At 6:09pm on 14 Aug 2008, DrForsyth wrote:

    Bring back Souness!!!

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  • 152. At 6:11pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    The Truth Is Out There - Babel wouldn't get near another top 4 team? I think any of them would be pretty happy to pick up a 10 goals in 48 appearances winger at age 21, actually.

    Carragher remains the lynchpin of a rock solid defense. He's over the hill, but the peak of that hill is pretty darn high.

    As for the claim that no other team would go for Keane, Man U is happily going for Berbatov, who had the exact same number of goals as Keane last season, and paying quite a bit more for him despite them being nearly the same age.

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  • 153. At 6:14pm on 14 Aug 2008, 3cupfinals wrote:

    The self styled Peoples Club got 10,000 the other night and the only time the ground is full is when Liverpudlians buy the general sale tickets for each Derby that Everton cant sell. The majority of the Scouse nation is definitely not blue.

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  • 154. At 6:16pm on 14 Aug 2008, The Truth Is Out There wrote:

    PhilSandifer --
    Any observer can see that the potential upside with Berba is far greater than that of Keane. Berbatov was unhappy all year and trotting through the season, and still managed the same tally as Keane. Keane, on the other hand, has played out of his skin to reach the totals he had. Babel has talent, there is no question, but which winger do you think he could replace on another team? I don't think he has the potential of Nani (who is terrible now, but remember young Ronaldo?), or of many other comparable youngsters coming through the ranks. 21 isn't even that young these days (I think we are witnessing a real downward shift in the age at which a player peaks). Chelsea play with little width, so they make a different comparison.
    The Carragher argument is clouded by nostalgia. He has lost so much of his former best, that he seems barely recognizable. I'd rather have Vidic, Rio, Carvalho, Gallas, (even) Terry (gasp!), on my team.

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  • 155. At 6:21pm on 14 Aug 2008, jurgensayid wrote:

    Phil McNulty, one minute you say that 20 million is an exorbitant price to pay for Robbie Keane and then you turn round and say its a "genuine coup"??

    That statement tends largely towards moronic end of oxymoronic!!!

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  • 156. At 6:25pm on 14 Aug 2008, ExPat-Kopite wrote:

    Fair article Phil.

    I think people tend to over-analyze the situation and forget that the majority of football matches are won/lost/drawn on fine details.

    Liverpool have consistently been strong in the second half of the season for the past few years (injuries notwithstanding) and I think for us to challenge, as some people have already suggested, we simply need to turn draws into wins.

    As for Rafa, his rotation methods are greatly exaggerated in the media who use only one or two standout examples to suggest this is more of an issue than it is.

    They say you make your own luck in football and sometimes it feels as if we are the cause of our own bad luck. Too many times, when socks needed to be rolled up we have strolled through matches without a care in the world.

    Rafa is an excellent tactician and a student of the game who crosses his T's and dot's his I's but I worry about his man management skills. Our title chances do not rest on our squad (which despite what people may say, is as strong as it needs to be to mount a challenge) but rather on the management team being able to get that extra 10-20% out of the team.

    We have the ability to surprise a few people but I will believe it when I see it. Either way, my support is unwavering.

    YNWA

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  • 157. At 6:25pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    The Truth Is Out There - I put Babel and Nani on pretty equal footing, truth told. And I think Chelsea's playing with little width has more to do with Abramovich's baffling obsession with buying central midfielders (who on Earth thinks that a team that has Ballack and Lampard needs Deco? Or that one that has all three might need to throw limitless money at Kaka?) than with their preferences. Give them better wingers than the junk they field and they'd play wider.

    I agree that Carragher is a year or two away from losing his first team place. But I put him on the level of Terry and Vidic still. Not Ferdinand, admittedly, but Ferdinand is the best center back in the world right now.

    As for Berba vs. Keane, we'll see who gets more goals next season - the third choice striker for Man U, or Torres's strike partner. I'm curious, certainly. :)

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  • 158. At 6:31pm on 14 Aug 2008, tenzone86 wrote:


    ---------------- Reina
    Arbeloa - Carra. - Agger - Dossena
    ---------- Masch. - Alonso
    ----- Keane - Gerrard - Babel
    ---------------- Torres


    Good call. That team would pick up 90 points min., so we have a chance!

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  • 159. At 6:31pm on 14 Aug 2008, Redmatrix wrote:

    Liverpool's season is hopeless.

    Ok Liverpools strengths lie in the centre of the team, goalkeeper, defence, midfield and forwards all excellent.

    Weaknesses again are the full back and wing areas. Dossena may prove to be a good buy. Babel is fantasic. Deggen extremely medicore (another Voronin but worse).

    With Benitez's tunnel vision and pursuit of Barry he has some how completely ignored the fact we have no one on the left of midfield. Ideally he should of brought David Bentley AND David Silva, both can play in different positions!

    Unfortunetly for us Liverpool fans we are in for another non title winning or even title challenging season.

    I blame Rafa's stubborness for this. He doesn't even use his squad. He doesn't for reasons decent subsistution choices when things are going wrong, he waits and waits than the game is over!

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  • 160. At 6:34pm on 14 Aug 2008, The Truth Is Out There wrote:

    PhilSandifer-
    I won't be surprised if Keane gets more goals. I imagine that the vast majority of your goals will come from him and Torres. United will have the goals more spread out -- Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Berba, Nani, Rio, Vidic, will all chip in. But I think that Berbatov's potential for influencing the team beyond scoring goals is far better than Keane's. And we had one of the greatest poachers to ever live in RVN, and I wouldn't want him back. The flow of the team is far better without a single prong to the attack. And, we are far less vulnerable to injury/suspension the way we play. Last year we dealt with the loss of Rooney, Ronaldo and Vidic to injuries and suspensions and still did pretty well :). If you guys lose Torres for more than a couple games, it's lights out.
    And I agree bout Chelsea.... they may have worse wingers than you :)

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  • 161. At 6:34pm on 14 Aug 2008, BigShifty wrote:

    Liverpool signed their own death warrant when the sold Crouchosaurus,

    Im predicting a relegation battle now

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  • 162. At 6:35pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    I don't think you can get 90 points in a season by playing Alonso and Keane out of position...

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  • 163. At 6:37pm on 14 Aug 2008, tenzone86 wrote:

    I don't think you can get 90 points in a season by playing Alonso and Keane out of position...


    how is that playing Alonso out of position? and Keane and Babel would move around, which is their natural game.

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  • 164. At 6:37pm on 14 Aug 2008, Jack wrote:

    This year could be Liverpool's year.

    Just like the past few seasons....

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  • 165. At 6:37pm on 14 Aug 2008, mightysoprano wrote:

    The starting eleven should be:-

    Reina
    Carragher (right back as rest are not good)
    Agger
    Skrtl
    Dossena (give him a chance he is good!)
    Benayoun (right mid - no good alternative)
    Gerrard
    Mascherano
    Babel
    Keane
    Torres.

    On paper, should be a match for most, unfortunately, we do not have the requisite mental strength to win the title. We are still short at right back and right midfield - not sure why Barry is so crucial - he must strengthen right midfield (first teamer) and some competition for Babel.

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  • 166. At 6:43pm on 14 Aug 2008, The Truth Is Out There wrote:

    MightySoprano --
    You bring up a great point about mental strength, which is often overlooked in the talk of squad, rotation, etc. Look at how United and Chelsea get up for games against each other, and contrast that to how Liverpool brick it every time they play United, from Gerrard on down.
    The difference is very telling.

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  • 167. At 6:43pm on 14 Aug 2008, BigShifty wrote:

    Sigh

    Here I go again

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    "Phil McNulty, one minute you say that 20 million is an exorbitant price to pay for Robbie Keane and then you turn round and say its a "genuine coup"??

    That statement tends largely towards moronic end of oxymoronic!!!"

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Put your thesaurus down big man, Just because they overpaid it doesnt mean he isnt a player who will take them forward, and in the long run, if he plays well, do you think anyone will care how much was paid. Plus the inflation is a reflection of the market, and when other recent fees are considered, (Im sure you all know the best example), 20 mil for a new strike partner and player who loves the club isnt all that bad.

    Im pretty sure Phil summed that up without needing to spell it out, if you stopped looking for holes maybe you would actually find some

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  • 168. At 6:50pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    The Truth is Out There - Hey, no fair going with an "us" and "you" approach - I'm a yank with no qualms about rooting for both Liverpool and United, thank you very much. :)

    That said, if United can get goals out of Rooney then yes, it's game over. Of course they (and everyone else) hasn't been up to that task yet. He's an extraordinary player, but nobody has quite found the formation that works for him yet. And I quibble with putting Ferdinand among the goal-scorers. He's the best center-back in the world, but goalscorer is a bridge too far, I think. Similarly with Vidic. You'd be better off putting Giggs, Scholes, and Anderson on the list - all solid players.

    I also point out that had United not gotten off to a wretched start while they were missing Rooney and Ronaldo the end of the season wouldn't even have been close. The fact that they were left chasing the game at JJB on the last day of the season is not one of the prouder moments of last season.

    To be clear, I don't think that Liverpool can challenge for the Prem next season. Liverpool is building a great first team, and I don't agree with the complaints that they lack depth, but the fact of the matter is, United has an investment in youth that Liverpool doesn't. The da Silvas, Campbell, Nani, and Anderson are impressive young players who are first team quality already. Liverpool's first team youngsters are few and far between, and that's their biggest weakness at present. They have the depth, but their depth lacks the hunger that Man U's depth has, and the ridiculous piles of money that Chelsea's depth has.

    But I think Liverpool is a better squad than Arsenal, and that they can scrap with United and Chelsea. I don't think they can take 1st. It would be appalling if they didn't get 3rd, though, and I think they have a real shot at 2nd. If they get 2nd, I think they have a real shot at winning next year.

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  • 169. At 6:51pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    tenzone86 - Alonso is not a defensive midfielder, so that's not his natural position.

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  • 170. At 6:52pm on 14 Aug 2008, The Truth Is Out There wrote:

    Phil --
    Good points all around. I think with Arsenal's losses this summer you are close to them, although Arsene seems to get more out of his fair players than most. I can't see how you could think Liverpool have a real shot at 2nd, though. Chelsea and United are built so much better over the long haul.

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  • 171. At 6:53pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Well, so much for Barry being in our plans. Probably for the best. 18m was a joke there. Now we can look at a winger, or an affordable defensive midfielder.

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  • 172. At 6:58pm on 14 Aug 2008, BigShifty wrote:

    hmm, sorry

    Phil Sandifer you are right about the 4th place comment earlier, but some other chap made a much better go of the same argument...too hard to find again in the giant wall of comments.
    Guess I got carried away preaching

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  • 173. At 7:00pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    The Truth Is Out There - I think Chelsea is a woefully unbalanced squad. Perhaps if they can create a formation that's all central midfielders, but I think they've only got one truly great striker in Drogba, and he had an inconsistent season last season. Their wings are in shambles. And I think the team is just getting towards poisonous. I think there are serious problems with Terry as a captain, and I think that Scolari, good as he is, is not a better manager than Mourinho, and is in an untenable position. Everybody on that team has come to realize that they are owned by a crazy man who has unreasonable expectations. There is such a thing as too much pressure for a team. I think Chelsea's best years under Abramovich are behind them. There comes a point where throwing more money at a team stops helping it and starts hurting it. So I think that's where Chelsea's weakness comes in.

    As for United, I think they have much longer term health, but have a few significant problems that worry me. I worry whether Ronaldo has his head in it. I worry whether Quieroz was a vital part of the team. And I worry that the squad is in an awkward transitional period, with Giggs, Scholes, and Neville past their best, but with Anderson and Nani not good enough to out and out replace them yet.

    I think United will take the league, with Chelsea and Liverpool both contenders for second.

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  • 174. At 7:02pm on 14 Aug 2008, soccerlifer wrote:

    @manutd_1982
    you're right, liverpool haven't been good enough to win the league in Rafa's four years.

    But we probably think we're good enough to finish in top 3 because we've been third twice in those four years.

    Long way from the title, but at least get your facts right.

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  • 175. At 7:04pm on 14 Aug 2008, red_fab_fred wrote:

    As a Man utd fan the only way i can see Liverpool Challenging for the league is if hey can take maxium points off Man utd, Chelsea and Arsenal.

    With undoubted world class players such as Torres and Gerrard they can beat any team on their day (something we have seen in the champions league)

    However i don't see how Keane has improved their squad over a player such as Crouch.

    Liverpool lack a real leader at the back who will dictate the play or drive the team on. Terry, Ferdinand and for the first part of last season Gallas were instrutmental in their teams successes. Carragher is a solid professional but a leader he will never be.

    Liverpool should have bid for Robben during the Ronaldo saga as Madrid may of entertained that dring that period. I also think they should have gone back in for Heinze or maybe Woodgate. All three are a bit injury prone but for me are the type of players that Liverpool need to get the points at Wigan, Fulham, Boro etc.

    Benitez will be gone this time next year if Liverpool do not finish in the top 2. Mourinho (maybe Grant) and Ferguson have proved that it is possible to compete on both domestic and European fronts. So another champs league with poor league finish will not be enough this time round.

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  • 176. At 7:04pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    giganticivan_bosnjak - Yeah, I saw that comment. And it's true - taking Liverpool over the entire Prem makes them out to be a bit worse than perrenial fourth place finishers. They had a pretty bad decade in the 90s. Under Benitez, though, and looking since the current "Big four" became the big four, I think calling them the perennial fourth of the big four is largely unfair.

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  • 177. At 7:12pm on 14 Aug 2008, Aaron wrote:

    tenzone86- there is no way that that team will amass 90+ points, they will enivitably draw/loose games that they should defenitly win eg wigan,portsmouth last season, plus liverpools record against the other top teams, utd,arsenal and chelsea is diabolical, and to top it all their signings over the summer have been as usual mediocre-
    deggen-cant make the swiss team
    Dossena- last night proved how good he was
    Keane-19 million for an overated 29year old, very astute

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  • 178. At 7:20pm on 14 Aug 2008, soccerlifer wrote:

    well, said, Sandifer. Liverpool have only been 4th once since Rafa arrived in 04 and that was last season.

    Yes, I remember they were 5th in his first season ....but 3rd (one point behind Man U) in 06 and 3rd again in 07...not fantastic but not horrible either.

    Intersting, all this talk about Liverpool being terrible and lacking quality and all that jazz.

    Yet, Chelsea were lucky to escape unbeaten in three league and Champions League games last season and Arsenal lost one and tied three of their four encounters with Liverpool.

    No quality? No heart? Just ask Inter Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea. But I guess Champions League cred means nothing too - even if Chelsea and Arsenal would kill for success at that level.

    Sure, Liverpool could use some quality in certain positions but consistency wins titles and that's what they have to work on.

    But we certainly need to put things in perspective here and tone down on the dismissive lingo.

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  • 179. At 7:33pm on 14 Aug 2008, kasbah wrote:

    "Sigh.....Torres was not "rotated"for B'ham and Portsmouth. He was on the bench because he was coming back from injury on both occasions.

    Post #4"

    and yet he scored a hat-trick in the carling cup game that was played between the birmingham and portsmouth matches......strange for someone who was injured don't you think?

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  • 180. At 7:44pm on 14 Aug 2008, bannedgunner wrote:



    "174. At 7:02pm on 14 Aug 2008, soccerlifer wrote:
    @manutd_1982
    you're right, liverpool haven't been good enough to win the league in Rafa's four years.

    But we probably think we're good enough to finish in top 3 because we've been third twice in those four years"

    This is where delusion gets the better of Pool fans. You finished 3rd but did not compete. You finished 3rd because one of the big 3 had a dropp off.

    In other words your 3rd place finishes are
    mostly becuase one of the big 3 had a poor seaosn. Do not onfuse your 3rd place finish with 21 pints out of firts and long out of the race with 3rd place finishes of Arsenal alst year and MAn United when they finished 3rd.

    You average finsih is closer to 4 under Rafa,
    and at no point wree you in title chase.
    Sure if Arsenal stumbles you can get that coveted 3rd place ..IF ARSENAL Stumbles.
    In other words Pool are 4th placd e team needing a bad outing from one of big 3 to get 3rd place.




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  • 181. At 7:53pm on 14 Aug 2008, kicker13 wrote:

    10 million difference between Keane and Crouch I don't think so... hotspurs and Portsmouth got very good value, which has allowed Villa to keep a prize possesion.
    Get rid of dead weights Voronnen and Pennant we might get get 4 million for the pair... or a buy one get one free sale, we will still be 4th at the end, I'm very disapointed with the Summer selling and buying.(actually thinking of selling Alonzo has the Board gone mad!)

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  • 182. At 7:54pm on 14 Aug 2008, arsenalmissbergkamp wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 183. At 7:59pm on 14 Aug 2008, Cheesymunky wrote:

    A fair article and i agree on the posistion we will finish at the end of the season.

    Keane is proven in the prem and no disrepect to Tottenham in a better team i believe he will score more goals. He's more of a "steady eddie" striker who will score a decent amount of goals over the season, not so much a hot shot like Torres has been.

    I hope i'm wrong though.

    I believe he's going to try and use him wide, Babel for me should stay on the right, even though he likes to cut in from the left. I think he will put Keane on the left to cut in and go foward, with Gerrard high up and 2 central midfielders to hold, which would include Mascha and another.

    I hope he can adapt to that posistion though because i think pinning Gerrard back to a more central role would be shooting ourselves in the foot.

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  • 184. At 8:04pm on 14 Aug 2008, IstampoolTIM wrote:

    Can I just ask why so many Manure fans are saying "they're sick of hearing Liverpool fans " this, and "Tired of listening fans say" that!
    Stop comming on our threads! If your not interested about our opinions don't read them!
    Honestly if you don't like what we're talking about don't join the conversation!

    In Rafa we trust! Oh Barry just scored! Should defo sign him!

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  • 185. At 8:04pm on 14 Aug 2008, soccerlifer wrote:

    @U11148453


    Here are some historical facts:
    Man U finished 3rd in 2002 -10 points behind Arsenal and three points behind Liverpool. They had 77 points to Liverpool's 80.

    Liverpool finished 3rd in 2006 - 9 points behind Chelsea and 1 point behind Man U. They had 82 points to Man U's 83.

    Yet you argue: "In other words your 3rd place finishes are
    mostly becuase one of the big 3 had a poor seaosn. Do not onfuse your 3rd place finish with 21 pints out of firts and long out of the race with 3rd place finishes of Arsenal alst year and MAn United when they finished 3rd. "

    So, in your estimation, Man U's 3rd place finish 2002 is more credible than Liverpool's 3rd place in 06. Yet, the facts suggest otherwise. Short memory? Or just couldn't let the facts get in the way of a "good" argument??

    It's all history now anyway, but if you backed your arguments with a little fact they'd make a little more sense.

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  • 186. At 8:10pm on 14 Aug 2008, Cheesymunky wrote:

    Also since someone mentioned it, we do have some dead weight at the club.

    Pennant never really floated my boat (not like that) but i gave him a chance like most do and he peforms well very infrequently.

    Voronin is another, i don't really need to say much on him. Distinctly average, if that. I think Ngog and Nemeth and the likes would be better utilised and gain valuable experience.

    Those are the main 2 and i think they could be fairly easily sold on for the region of 5-7 million for the pair. That money could be spent on a winger, prefrably someone young like Babel who can grow into the team and the league.

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  • 187. At 8:19pm on 14 Aug 2008, Ranbir wrote:

    It isn't just about talking about the players.

    What matters since Mourinho came in is consistency. Can Benitez keep his team consistent in winning games. The past few years have shown that once you slip you can never regain lost ground.

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  • 188. At 8:20pm on 14 Aug 2008, kicker13 wrote:

    You can quote all the stats you want but my feeling along with many other supporters is that this years team is not better than last years... kind a glad I live in Canada so I don't have to read all the all the negative articles about my beloved team's struggle to retain 4th place

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  • 189. At 8:30pm on 14 Aug 2008, IstampoolTIM wrote:

    Last season we had Carra and Hyppia in centre defence, Agger missed the season injured, Skyrtel came in Jan!
    We only had Crouch as realistic back up for Torres, Robbie Keane provides much better support/back up!
    Babbel will have a much better settled season now settled, and Benayoun will be a very dark horse.
    We're a much stronger side than last season, but will need a couple of games to get through a few lower gears!

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  • 190. At 8:35pm on 14 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    Some people have touched on this but Liverpool's squad is just not good enough to compete with Man U and Chelsea.

    Liverpool have too many average players, Pennant, Benayoun and Voronin. And I know this will upset many but also too many players who are just not doing it at that level Like Kuyt, Alonso (fantastic play just not working out), Lucas (young but never impressed me) and Skrtel (might settle but was not hugely impressive).

    Rafa should ahve strated the summer by clearing the deadwood, then tried getting players he wanted. Stupid idea to go after Barry while needing to sell Alonso, if he has sold Alonso and Juve did not know he was desparate for cash might have gotten rid. He also put Villa in charge, I think, with his tactics. If he had played it low key and not acted so deparate he might have gotten him for less.

    As for season for once, just once can he please concentrate on EPL until Xmas not make it lesser. Best 11 each week, plenty time to suffle pack and rest after xmas if players need it, but Chelsea players never frst season they won it!

    Still think 3rd is best they cn hope fir, but if Robbie Keane fits in, then the partnership with Torres is very exciting. Real issue is can Gerrard be fitted in again. How many seasons now has Rafa started without knowing where to play his best player and captain?? Think Wenger has done this, or Fergie, no never!!!

    If by Xmas they are out of EPL I think owners should start looking for 2009 - 10 manager!!

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  • 191. At 8:40pm on 14 Aug 2008, arsenalmissbergkamp wrote:

    I want my comment back!

    You know Im right.

    The BBC is a 50+ club for Liverpool players and closet fans who talk about the 'glory days' and when they will come back.

    Oh and I checked the house rules.

    You left out-

    We reserve the right to fail messages which may if anyway disagree with Liverpool fans discussing the distant past and when they will win the Premier League again. Furthermore we will fail any comments which are in anyway anti-Liverpool.

    All the BBC talk about is Liverpool

    Why is it so fascinating???

    You havent won it in 18 years!!!

    You havent challanged for it in 18 years!!!

    Does no one else find this insane???

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  • 192. At 8:45pm on 14 Aug 2008, jw2034 wrote:

    the very fact this article has even been written is terrible bias. liverpool fans must live every day like its 1983 and they're still the biggest name around. the only reason they even merit addition to any discussion on the title is their 'history', which will be a millstone around their necks until they realise how far they've slipped - the CL win was done with houllier's players, not rafa's who has been a liability in terms of rotation and poor premiership tactics. this season, they don't even deserve comparision with united or chelsea. they barely deserve comparision with arsenal. where's the discussion of everton, pompey or spur's title chances who all have squads at least capable (as proven by everton last season) of matching liverpool?

    one world class player in torres doesn't make a team. on the strength of squad players like kuyt, pennant, et al. and on the basis of the summer results and signings, liverpool will limp in 4th at best.

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  • 193. At 8:48pm on 14 Aug 2008, kicker13 wrote:

    Maybe if I lived in an insane assylum

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  • 194. At 8:53pm on 14 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    I think people need to be fair to the author here.

    Liverpool have a large fan base and many of them, wrongly in my opinion, feel they have a genuine title chance.

    The BBC has to promote the EPL as it is showing it every week and it has cost them a lot of money, so to say as of day 1 it is a two horse race is stupid to their product. Best Sky never advertise it as watch the Man U / Chelsea title battle, the Arsenal youngsters and see how they improve and Liverpool's battle to retain 4th!!

    In fairness Liverpool have no real chance of winning the title their real aim has to be not to be so far out of by Xmas. If they had season like Arsenal's last year then that would be huge success and shows they should continue with Rafa, of not then he has to be sacked!

    I presonally doubt they can have an Arsenal type year, becuase with the exception of Gerrard and Torres they do not have Arsenal qualitity players!

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  • 195. At 8:53pm on 14 Aug 2008, IstampoolTIM wrote:

    I agree with the point about Pompey, Tottenham and to some extent Sunderland!
    with the money they've spent surely they're title challengers too!
    And if all 3 don't win the league I guess Harry Redknapp, Keane and Ramos should all get fired too!
    On that note, if Arsenal finish 3rd Wenger should get the boot too!

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  • 196. At 9:00pm on 14 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    IstampoolTIM is is that type of stupid comment which is why people do not like Lievrpool!!

    Wenger, how many trophies and are you really trying to compare him and Rafa? Where is Rafa's Ade, Fabragas, Dennilson, Clichy, Toure, Henry, Vierra. Wenger has made money for his club, put them in new staduim, has Rafa??

    Harry, come on FA cup for Pompey is like when u guys won CL. Rafa won that when and what has he done since!! If harry had 2 below average season bet Pompey fans would be asking questions

    Ramos, 2 minutes in job first season, but you can bet your last penny if Spurs fail to deliver a challenge for top 4 in next 2 years he will not be there long. BTW challenge for top 4 is their equivilent of a title challenge.

    Rafa has to mount serious title challenge, not ness to win but at least compete, otherwise surely his time is up???

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  • 197. At 9:02pm on 14 Aug 2008, Dave Williams wrote:

    I personally do not think Liverpool will ever win the title as long as they have Gerrard.
    There is too much reliance on him in the club, and although he has a few superb moments, he is very inconsistent even for LFC. Fans are in awe of him, and only see the good things he does never the poor play. He can put through one good pass in the whole 90 mins, miss about 20 and will still be rated one of the best players on the day. The problem is he has no discipline, and when the pressure is on tries to do it all himself, forcing other players out of position, so quite often it is like the oposing team is playing against 9 or 10 . Rafa's tactical plans are out of the window.

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  • 198. At 9:07pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    I may be crazy, but I'm pretty sure what Rafa has done since winning the CL was win the FA cup and get another CL final...

    And it should be noted that while Man U and Chelsea pulled similar points totals last year as the year before, Liverpool improved theirs dramatically. In other words, though they came in 4th last year instead of 3rd, they also finished 11 back instead of 21 back - a huge improvement.

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  • 199. At 9:10pm on 14 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    PhilSandifer, so you a re satisfied there is improvement and that your manager is making the right decisions?

    If so you would expect a title tilt this year, not win but still in it after Xmas?

    You'd expect gap cut?

    If yes, then what would you do if this was not forthcoming, forgetting unforseeables like Torres broken leg which would change targets?

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  • 200. At 9:16pm on 14 Aug 2008, IstampoolTIM wrote:

    The fact is that Rafa is making steady progress and without all the issues behind closed doors I'm sure the team would be a tiny bit more focused! and that tiny bit would make all the difference!

    And common So_cal_Dandie do you really think I'm serious!
    I'm just sayin why should Rafa have to win the league or be fired?
    Took Fergie 7 years for his first title!

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  • 201. At 9:20pm on 14 Aug 2008, liverpool_crazy8 wrote:

    Has anyone thought of the fact that if Rafa was to go then Torres and the other Spaniards would go too? (reina, arbeloa, alonso)

    Stevie G might not even be too keen on him leaving...

    I also agree with many of those up there ^^^ WE NEED WINGERS

    Does anyone think Rafa sits at home and reads all this?? =D

    Give him a few ideas...or ignore them like he always does.

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  • 202. At 9:21pm on 14 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    So_Cal_Dandie - My hope for Liverpool is 2nd. I'll be disappointed with less than 3. I don't see a title as possible - 11 points against squads like Man U and Chelsea is not something that can be done in a year. 21 in a year was also probably a bit optimistic.

    I do think that Liverpool did well last year, and were only just out of it by Christmas. They'd have been in it by Christmas had Chelsea not gotten a joke of a penalty against them early in the season. So yes - I think that a gap cut and still in it by Christmas is within reach, all things being equal. (Including the possibility of Man U, Chelsea, or Arsenal having a legend of a season, to be fair.)

    Were it not forthcoming? It'd depend on other criteria. If they challenge in a cup, I'd probably be OK with it. If not, I wouldn't raise a fuss if Benitez got the sack, but were I chairman I wouldn't be the one to pull the trigger either.

    I think Liverpool has some short term promise (I could see a title challenge in 09-10), some medium term serious problems (finances are tight to begin with, and a new stadium will stretch them further), and some long term hope (a new stadium will help revenue, and Liverpool has a less crushing debt load than some clubs).

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  • 203. At 9:37pm on 14 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    PhilSandifer, very well put arguement, and I agree with most of what you say.

    I do disagree that a cup run is enough to keep Rafa in job, unless it was CL final again.

    I also think that you are being optimistic thinking about 2nd but as a fan you have to be.

    I personally cannot see title challenge from Liverpool in next couple of years, too far off in main because of too many average squad players who you nee out, and then better players need time to settle. I would have said this summer was ideal time to do that, but with Pennant, Vorinin, Yossi, etc all seeming to be staying that is not occuring.

    New staduim will also change things again, maybe for better like Arsenal in that it become fortress, or for worse because of money.


    Time will tell though, eh?

    I also have to say to Liverpool_crazy8, spaniards leaving coz Rafa did, wuld be no great loss except Torres as all could be replaced with equal level players at drop of a hat, and if Gerrard left for same reason would be betrayal to fans, so never gonna happen. Anyway no reason to keep bad manager, becuase players would leave and they said it would happen at Chelsea, but has it???

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  • 204. At 9:39pm on 14 Aug 2008, Hitchings wrote:

    Completely agree with PhilSandifer, Rafa has one more trophies in his first 5 years (CL, F.A cup, CL final) than Fergie won in his first 5 (only the F.A cup...), so we have to trust our manager to deliver results. How are we more likely to challenge for the title: by rotating our strikers or by rotating our manager?

    Keane and Torres will most probably be the most effective strike partnership in the Premiership, as combined they notched more goals than Rooney/Tevez (Manchester United), Adebayor/Van Persie (Arsenal), or Drogba/Anelka (Chelsea), and if they reflect their goal scoring traits then our superior goal difference (having a superb captain in Gerrard helps too) will carry us to a long awaited Premier league title!

    I believe in Rafa's ability to guide us to glory, and why do need Gareth Barry when we already have an XI worthy of winning us that evasive trophy.

    Ronaldo's disloyalty, Manchester Uniteds lack of new blood, Chelsea's ageing players, and Arsenals huge gap in experience means that our strong squad is certainly capable of delivering.

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  • 205. At 9:41pm on 14 Aug 2008, redjocky wrote:

    I tend to agree with your comments, what is interesting is the names you didn't mention, Vorinin and Kuyt. We know we are missing a truly world class winger, so why do we have failed centre forwards in this position. I know Kuyt tries hard, so would I if I played for Liverpool, that is not good enough. We could sell both of these and Pennant and buy Robinho or joe cole or swp, quality not quantity.

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  • 206. At 9:48pm on 14 Aug 2008, shanklygates5 wrote:

    Am I missing something here, everyone making out United and Chelsea to be unstoppable superheroes? Liverpool got a series of wretchid draws around the festive season, to me the lack in defence and Agger absence was the main reason we did'nt challenge. This was most evident at the Liverpool vs Wigan game I saw at Anfield, a wretchid goal out of nothing and a none existant second goal. I agree however that ignoring the imortance of width which United dominate in was irresponsible, Silva or hell Bentley which we could have got reasonably cheap would bolster the flanks.

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  • 207. At 9:48pm on 14 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    lloydjameshh, what a fool you must be if you think you can compare SAF and Rafa!!

    Fergie arrived at United at a time when English clubs were banned form europe, Liverpool were dominant and the league did not just have 4 clubs who were capable of winning trophies!!

    Until Sky's money turned players into mercanaries and the top league into elitest rubbish, many clubs challenged which actually made winnig a trophy all the harder.

    As for problems at other clubs all real and might cause 1 or more of them issues, but not all, and you fail to highlight Liverpool lack of strength in depth and board problems equally likely to stop them in theor tracks.

    Finally you should also mention, Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Lampard, Drogba, Ballack, Fabregas, Adebayor, Nasir all reasons why Liverpool will probs finish 4th!

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  • 208. At 10:09pm on 14 Aug 2008, ray564k wrote:

    Fair play to Phil trying to appear balanced by not completely writing off Liverpool's chances, but those of us who don't have to worry about being called bias know that Rafa has a long long way to go before he can compete with Man U or Chelsea.

    We saw it last season with Arsenal, it's not enough to have 11 fantastic players in your starting XI, you need great players on the bench to deal with injuries. Arsenal were great until they had to start playing Senderos/Bendtner and co. because of injuries.

    The same will happen with Liverpool. Their starting XI, however you look at it, is pretty good, but there are too many bit part players, Pennant, Voronin etc.. that if they have to play, don't add enough to the team. Third is the best Liverpool can hope for.

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  • 209. At 10:14pm on 14 Aug 2008, redforever wrote:

    Last time you posted, I critised you heavily for the lack of insight of the recent blogs, Phil. I was hoping you might comeback with a good one and I think this is pretty good. I agree with you that on the face of it Liverpool have not really solved the obvioud problems they have. Adding an additional striker, as long as he plays, would certainly make a difference, since its goals that Liverpool lacked last year.

    The tacical make up of the team though, is still not clear. Steven Gerrard plays at his best as an out and out attacking midfielder! In any other position he is simply not as good...witness his performance in central midfield for England.

    Benitez, and many other top managers now favour playing two holding midfielders in front of the back four, which makes accomodating Stevies preferred role a problem if you want two strikers.
    So you are right that it is not clear what the lineup will be and I bet Rafa plays around with it...so we wont have changed from last year.

    Benayoun is not a wide player, so unless he settles on playing Pennant, we dont have a wide right provider. Babel, however is class, and will get better this year if he stays fit. He can provide and score from the left.

    Little known fact, but if you reverse the scores from the Man United v Liverpool games, Liverpool finish above United! (And Chelsea win the prem!) It didnt happen, of course, but that shows you the slim distance between the two teams.

    I think we could do it, if we can start scoring goals quickly, and if Benitez can settle on a line-up or at least a formation.

    Finally, I still think that Benitez is really not that worried about Barry, and that its Martin O'neill who has mishandled that episode. I think Benitez has his eye on a genuine wide player, my worry is we dont know who it is so it might end up being a nobody that doesnt contribute this season...lets see.

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  • 210. At 10:18pm on 14 Aug 2008, red_fab_fred wrote:

    As others have stated Rafa has won 2 trophies of note the Champions League and FA cup. However he has only both trophies with huge slices of luck which is something everything manager needs to win trophies (just ask Sir Alex).

    However it is frustrating to hear about how long it took Sir Alex to win a trophy compared to Rafa because they inherited completely different teams.

    Sir Alex basically inherited a misfit squad of class individuals who unfortunately loved the nightlife and fame a bit too much to be considered serious professionals.

    Rafa on the other hand inherited a squad from Houllier that had achieved both domestic and european success. Houllier set a new legacy of modern football at anfield. Benitez hasn't done much to push this on much further.

    How many trophies did Houllier win, How many trophies has Benitez won? How many has Arsene Wenger won? How many Jose, Sir Alex, etc.

    These are all irrelevant questions to an extent because only one club can win the league, the FA cup etc. It is the ability to challenge for the trophies that ultimately defines how great a team is.

    When we (Man utd) did the treble in 99 it could so easily of been and Arsenal double if Bergkamp scores that penalty and tottenham didn't throw away a one nil lead just before half tiem at old trafford.

    The fact that arsenal managed push Man utd all the way, and the same with the current Man utd v Chelsea rivalry, makes these teams great.

    It will be a very long time before Liverpool are once again spoken of in that context. The results against the othe rtop 4 teams have been frankly unacceptable.

    When Liverpool go away to the top 4 teams there is not one person who thinks they will win including there own fans.

    Most fans consider a point a good result. Well until this mentality changes and Liverpool are dissappointed to come away with a point from these grounds, then i'm afraid Liverpool will just keep on treading water.

    Benitez , has had time, money and support and has still not delivered the league title. I still believe that Liverpool had got mourihno instead of Benitez we would not be having this debate now.

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  • 211. At 10:30pm on 14 Aug 2008, Gunnerforlife2008 wrote:

    Horshamred


    you got ronaldo thats it, nani is poor for what you payed and giggs is past it so you dont really have quality width hence why ferguson bid for silva

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  • 212. At 11:23pm on 14 Aug 2008, unbeatableBigFan wrote:

    When Mourinho was available, I wished the Americans got him onboard. Now I wish Liverpool gets Rijkaard onboard. He will get us to play the kind of attacking football we fans are dying to see Liverpool play.

    I'm a big Liverpool fan but when I see Spurs, I'm drooling at the quality of players they are signing and sighing at the kind of players being mentioned for Liverpool and by Benitez.

    When I see Arsenal and Man U play, I'm so angry with envy but when I watch almost every Liverpool matches, I almost fall asleep in boredom

    Surprisingly the Americans have gone quiet since the season ended. Can the Americans save us by getting us 2 star wingers?

    May god have mercy on Liverpool next season. By the looks of it, lets pray hard that Liverpool can atleast earn a league position enough to at least qualify for the Champions League.

    Premier league title next season? Just look at the transfers Liverpool have done so far and the names being mentioned as targets, and the fans just have to face reality and lets stop lying to ourselves that we stand any chance

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  • 213. At 11:29pm on 14 Aug 2008, braybrooke wrote:

    It's great to see Daniel Agger back, he was sorely missed last term. The right back position is a problem as Finnan is out of favour and Arbeloa is not consistent enough.
    Alonso seems to have a better taste for it this year,but is a bit slow on the turn when deffending.How about Robbie keane sitting just behind Fernando tothe left and Stevie G a touch futher back to the right.Babel, left wing with Alonso and Mescerano the holding players. This allows fluidity and interchanging between the front three.
    I think in time it will happen and we will finnish second in the premiership.

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  • 214. At 11:30pm on 14 Aug 2008, aqb7bullet wrote:

    i think what Phil Mcnulty is saying is exactly right.

    If you put it in contrast, their are only like 3/4 of our players which Man utd or chelsea would want, gerrard, torres and keane. or even mascherano.

    Then wev got the likez of voronin, benayoun, arbeloa, aurelio, pennant and even kuyt who are average players and not the players which have the quality we need to win the premier league.

    If we want to seriously challenge the likes of man utd and chelsea, and even arsenal then we have to have players of great quality not just players who play just fill up the numbers.

    To be honest. i am a big liverpool fan and i think that we are a world class winger and a world class full back short.

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  • 215. At 11:35pm on 14 Aug 2008, karachikop wrote:

    to be honest, its a fair article and i do agree that liverpool are a good squad but not champions material.
    mr benetaz needs to bur quality wingers.,.,
    this may be the year.,., i hope
    karachikop

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  • 216. At 11:41pm on 14 Aug 2008, gebeeze wrote:

    It's on the wide areas that Liverpool need to improve. It sounds like Rafa might stuck Keane out on the left or right, with Babbel/Kuyt on the other wing. This will keep Gerrard in his favoured position. This is a bit of a shame- Keane's purchase essentially means that he or Gerrard will be played as a wide player. There is nothing wrong with this- AC Milan and Italy in 2006 showed that you can be effective without natural width. There is a problem insofaras Rafa seems to want a team of utility players so that he can constantly chop and change. Great for cups- not so good for the league where players need to work an understanding together. If Liverpool get off to a great start like they did last year I can see them having more staying power with the added experience and stronger squad. My tip however is Arsenal- if they had beaten Man U and Chelsea last season they would have been champions- in both games they were ahead and lost the lead. They have got rid of the deadwood (Hleb, Gilbertom, and Flamini was not as good in the league as in Europe) so they are my darkhorses.

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  • 217. At 11:46pm on 14 Aug 2008, Torres' right peg wrote:

    I'm pretty certain that if we were to swap our main winger, Babel, for United's predominant winger, Ronaldo, we'll be favourites to land the title.

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  • 218. At 11:59pm on 14 Aug 2008, samme_red10 wrote:

    Good Post Phil! Totally agree with your prediction of Liverpool's bag of trophy this season, maybe just a cup or two.

    Can't see why Liverpool spent all the summer chasing Barry who might be not just as good as Alonso, and it seems 'still on'. As you all point out, one of Liverpool problem is the lack of Quality width for attacking games. If they can't spend a lot of money on proper wingers then they should have spent the money for Keane, Dossena ... on quality full-backs just like MU and Chelsea have spent money on A. Cole, Bosingwa, Evra. It could be more helpful than what they have done. Brought Dossena and sold Riinse???

    Gerrard is like fish in the water when he plays just behind Torres and leaves the defensive work for Masche and Alonso, Babel could play on the left, and now play Keane on the right? (just like Kuyt did? then where is place for Kuyt) Waste of money, and even more wasteful if play Gerrard on the right.

    If Liverpool wants to mount a serious tittle challenge, then
    1. They should have just one owner, not a co-owner system which could have complicated the decision-making process for transfer activities.
    2. A quality right-hand man (just like Queiros) for Benites to tell him which department needs improvement and which does not if they do not want to sack Benites.



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  • 219. At 00:10am on 15 Aug 2008, BigNevsTache wrote:

    As an Everton fan, I was gutted to see Liverpool sign Robbie Keane. I've always been a huge fan of his. He works hard, has plenty of goals in him and is a fantastically technically gifted player. I've been surprised that it's taken so long for him to get a move to a supposedly bigger club than Spurs. Thats why I'm having problems with any Liverpool fans not agreeing with this signing. There's every reason to suggest that he'll be the perfect foil for Torres. So what if it means moving Gerrard out of the 'hole' that he enjoyed last season? Stick him on the right and drop Kuyt who I have a lot of time for but is not a winger and never will be. It's not rocket science.

    As for Liverpool winning the league though, it wont happen this year. Its the same old tired debate that happens each pre season. Last year Torres was the missing piece in the jigsaw (even though Liverpool were far more than 1 top striker behind chelsea and man u) and that proved fruitless. I don't see whats changed this time. Man U haven't weakened as far as I'm aware and Chelsea (by signing Scolari and Deco) have certainly strengthened. Liverpool have made one quality proven prem signing (Keane) and a number of other average signings who most football fans wouldn't even recognise if they passed them in the street. The conveyor belt of average players going in and out of Anfield int the last few seasons makes me laugh to be honest. It was a trend started by Houllier and Benitez seems happy to carry it on.

    I have two points to make (which I'm sure will be shouted down):
    1. If Benitez hadn't won the CL (which is clearly a success, I'm not denying that), his league performances would have seen him sacked by now.
    2. Would we really be having this discussion if it wasn't liverpool? How long can a club live on it's past for? They've underachieved for a number of years now and I honestly don't see them being any closer to winning the league this coming season than they were under Roy Evans. You can throw up players like Degen all you like, but I think that's valid.

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  • 220. At 00:48am on 15 Aug 2008, SilverFox56 wrote:

    BigNevsTache is very fair with his comments.

    I think Liverpool have been plagued by a lack of confidence against the other 3 members of the "Big Three".
    That same mood of fatalism has been apparent in a lot of comments on this page.
    Just like Tyson's opponents, it sometimes felt like we were beaten before the match started.

    Man Utd PLC have been fortunate in being able to spend £35M+ on Carrick and Hargreaves.
    Chelsea have also spent big for a number of years.
    We cannot match that level of spending (the American owners humiliatingly failed to provide Rafa with the £40M he needed. If they can't give him spending power, what are they for?), but I have a sneak feeling that Keane may just unlock the potential of an industrious and passionate squad.
    Torres looked harassed and frustrated and lonely sometimes last season.
    Defensive set-ups were able to stifle him. A dedicated and slippery link man like Keane may just take the heat off the boy and free up Babel and Gerard to play the way they prefer in the positions they prefer.
    Why don't we just buy Downing. He's affordable and add bite to a hard-working midfield.

    Also, Shankly and Paisley must be spinning in their graves to see the way Barry has been left dangling and treated in such an ungentlemanly way.
    He was told Liverpool wanted him and must be feeling unsettled and possibly very resentful toward Liverpool.

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  • 221. At 01:34am on 15 Aug 2008, MaybeNextYearSon wrote:

    I think if any team wants to achieve big things they need to learn to have a fluid attack, the now ageig AC MIlan team being a prime example. I see Liverpool playing
    4-2-3-1 next season with Keane, Gerrard, Kuyt/Babel as the 3. Only one of them needs ot go wide at a time with the fullback pushing forward on the opposite wing.

    The problem Liverpool have had over the last few years is they buy plenty of players who make no impression and Benetiz seems to have little faith, short patience or just can't coach the player to become better. Hence the large turnaround, he chased Gonzalez for a year and then gave up on him straight away. Wenger or Fergie just don't do this and Chelsea can affford the finished article. It's almost looks like he has given up on Kuyt and Babel already.

    Also why he tried to get rid of Alonso I don't know, they are definately a better more creative team with him.

    However he does seem to be able to pick defenders as Skrtel and Agger look potentially brilliant.

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  • 222. At 07:05am on 15 Aug 2008, footballisfixed wrote:

    Perhaps Benitez is focusing on the Premier League this season - after all, he left Gerrard out of the starting XI for the farcical performance in Belgium on Wednesday.

    But, Liverpool have no chance of the title.

    The key issue is finance.

    Wachovia, the bank tied to the Hicks/Gillett Kop Holdings, are in meltdown due to the credit crisis.
    Benitez has to sell in order to buy.
    This will still be the case when the January transfer window opens.

    Can you imagine either Chelsea or Manchester United failing to see through the transfer for a mid-ranking midfielder from a mid-ranking club like Villa?

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  • 223. At 07:18am on 15 Aug 2008, Eclectics wrote:

    Can someone explain to me:

    1. Why is Ryan Babel is played wide left when he's right footed and has to continually cut back to put crosses over? He'd be lethal on the right;

    2. Why is Dirk Kuyt who is a central striker, played as a right midfielder- giving no pace or width on the right;

    3. What's Voronin about...? Shot guns/barndoors/six inches come to mind...! Torres...now he's a player;

    4. We should buy Owen- he's in my fantasy team this season to partner El God, and I'm very confident...

    Thanks.

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  • 224. At 08:19am on 15 Aug 2008, BeanoMasch wrote:

    Liverpool's dour performance in Liege was the much-needed kick-in-the-arse/back-to-earth reality-check. Premiership title? I think not.

    I hope I'm wrong, but Dossena looks like a headless chubby chicken and Keane, for all his huffing and puffing, seems to be struggling with the weight of expectation.

    There will be one more signing and hopefully Keane will strike-up a partnership with Torres, but the two new full backs look way off the mark in terms of Premiership quality.

    We shall see, but I will not be popping into the bookies this year.

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  • 225. At 08:43am on 15 Aug 2008, COE2005 wrote:

    Another shockingly bad article.

    A "chief Football writer" would surely know that Torres was only rested in the later stages of the league season when 4th place was in the bag and before the important CL games. Prior to that he missed games with injures picked up playing for Spain.

    Its a simple fact, but simple journalists always miss it out when theres an unjustified point to be made.

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  • 226. At 08:45am on 15 Aug 2008, stevenicolsleftpeg wrote:

    I'd just like to point out that all those who are doubting the ability of Dossena to be a quality full back that he has only played one competitive game for the club and should be judged at the end of the season and not the beginning. I seem to remember a certain Patrice Evra being absolutely run ragged in his first game for Utd and being subbed at half time in the Manchester derby but given time he has developed into arguably the best left back in Europe.

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  • 227. At 08:59am on 15 Aug 2008, sleepingCKLFC wrote:

    Why do we continue to play our players in the wrong positions??????
    Kuyt is a great player but he is NOT a winger. We NEED two class wingers. We are becomeing to one dimensional with everything going through the middle.
    I am glad that Barry played for Villa last night. We do not need him. Unless he was planning on playing him out of position as well. PLEASE BUY SOME WINGERS RAFA.

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  • 228. At 09:29am on 15 Aug 2008, jgpl001 wrote:

    Lets all agree to re-visit this thread the 1st week of May 2009

    If Liverpool are Champions we will all eat humble pie, if not then the debate can start again for the 2009/10 season (Can't wait for that!)

    I wonder which outcome my money is on???

    A loss or boring draw away to Sunderland this Saturday should begin things nicely......and the debate will begin again - "he should have played Babel is a deep, outside left, forward holding role, etc., etc.

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  • 229. At 09:33am on 15 Aug 2008, thewelshboycott wrote:

    There's nobody, apart from die-hard Liverpool fans and the pro-Liverpool bias in the BBC, who believes Liverpool are remotely contenders for the title.

    On what basis is even a matter for debate???

    Liverpool fans are entitled to their loyalty and belief, but why has the BBC lost its impartiality on this subject?

    Liverpool have not challenged in recent memory. Their last title was 1990. So, if you are under 18, you weren't even born when Liverpool last won the league.

    Please can we get some balanced reporting and commentary on football on the BBC.

    You could just as easily speculate on Everton or Spurs or Newcastle, who have about the same chance as Liverpool, i.e., none.

    I'm pretty sure we got this story at the start of last season, and the one before, and the one before....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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  • 230. At 09:52am on 15 Aug 2008, bringbackbiscan wrote:

    lfc will finish 3rd, and win the carling cup, and more than likely be beat by chelsea in the 1/4's of the f.a. cup/champs league. i'm not pessimistic, i just can't see dossena, arbeloa, aurelio, degen, lucas, plessis, ngog, voronin, pennant etc pulling their weight as squad players (and i'm fully aware dossena and arbeloa are first teamers but there not as good or better than their peers at utd, chelsea or arsenal) to help our stars along. i saw someone wrote out a first team which saw keane in place of kuyt on the right, whats the point, i know keane's faster than dirk but it defeats the object of buying a class cf if your going to play him as a rm/winger.

    We should have bought bentley instead of allowing the lad to go and wate time at Spurs were the inevitable will happen, loads of hype and a 7th place finish. Then shown jermaine the door, i heard hamburg offered £3m for andy v and we didn't snatch their arm, odd! sevilla offered £7m for alvaro apparently, i think rafa must have had too many san migs to turn that one down to. For years now Lfc have been desperate for some class wingers, not chancers like gonzalez or pennant, in order to compete with the best we ought to have bought the best in order to compete with the best and Bentley fits that bill.

    I'm not jealus of Utd but they can play squad players like o'shea, fletcher, evans, silvestre, park ji sung and beat team, lfc can't we draw against wigan and brum at home, no disrespect to those teams, but if you're going to sustain a title bid, that who you need to beat.

    Ranted a bit longer than i wanted there, time to do some work i think.

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  • 231. At 10:08am on 15 Aug 2008, BigShifty wrote:

    Eclectics -
    "to partner El God"

    In reference to the mighty Commando Torres I presume.
    Not that this is important, but in Spain the call him 'El Nino', which means something somewhere between;

    A freak wind which devastates the South Pacific every now and then
    'The Boy' as in the chosen one,
    and my personal favourite,
    'The Christ Child'

    Thats right, in Spain, Torres is the second coming of Christ

    Come On!!!

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  • 232. At 10:12am on 15 Aug 2008, BigShifty wrote:

    "Can you imagine either Chelsea or Manchester United failing to see through the transfer for a mid-ranking midfielder from a mid-ranking club like Villa?"

    I guess thats the problem though, I think if he wanted 100 mil to buy Messi and Barca were ready to sell, they would cough it up, you know

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  • 233. At 10:13am on 15 Aug 2008, jaysnoe wrote:

    Having seen what Benitez is capable of in terms of rotation, i honestly dont see him playing Keane, Gerrard and Torres in the same team. Unless if he plays king Gerro on the left or right wing, which would make Liverpool more weak. By the time he gets his formation right Chelsea and Man-u will have opened an assailable lead over us. I would love to see what he does with Skirtel because that boy was awsome for us towards the end of the season.Would Rafa choose him ahead of the evergreen Carragher or will he continue with rotational policy that has not worked for us at the start of the season. Come on you reds lets get our title back. Please get it right this time Rafa.

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  • 234. At 10:16am on 15 Aug 2008, secretscouse wrote:

    I totally agree, our 'beloved American owners' said they didn't think Barry was worth 18mill...in fact Villa seem to be the only ones that do. Anyway, now he can't play in Europe, he's got to only be worth around 8mill now.

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  • 235. At 10:35am on 15 Aug 2008, BigShifty wrote:

    There has been a lot of mentioning the lack of quality of liverpools fringe players,
    In many ways I agree but to look at United etc on paper it doesn't appear all that different.
    Giggs is past it and he is vice captain, Fletcher, Park, Sick Note Saha, Johnny Evans (I think Frazier Campbell looks quality), then you got Senderos, Bendtner, and not really much to shout about at Chelsea,

    I think the difference is when fringe players come in they should fit into the squad system and although the machine maybe isnt so well greased it still turns,
    when Liverpool miss players, they grind to a halt

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  • 236. At 10:38am on 15 Aug 2008, biscan_kop_legend wrote:

    Can I just point out that most non-Liverpool fans are having a go at us for saying that Liverpool will win the league this year. But if you actually look at the vast majority of comments on this board, most Liverpool fans don't think we are ready to challenge yet, and have mearly said that we will close the gap. It's unfair to say "I'm sick of hearing Liverpool fans say they're going to win the title every year" when you probably don't have that much communication with a lot of Liverpool fans. Please don't tar us with the same brush as a few ignorant optimists.

    No doubt this comment will be ignored though, no one ever responds to sensible comments, just the wind-up ones.

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  • 237. At 10:59am on 15 Aug 2008, BigNevsTache wrote:

    Out of courtesy, I'm going to reply to the above post. That's actually a valid point. Most Liverpool fans who actually know anything are not bigging up their teams chances too much this season. The problem is definitely with the press and other forms of media. This is becoming one of those tired arguments (much like the problem left side for England used to be) that gets more weary with each passing season.

    As for 'biscan kop legend', please tell me this is a joke. The only reason he wasn't the worst player at the club was because you had Djimi Traore.

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  • 238. At 11:02am on 15 Aug 2008, fernblog wrote:

    "Barry is worth nowhere near £18m"

    I find this a strange opinion that has been mooted alot this summer. I agree that football is all about opinion - and some may not rate Barry all that highly in their own opinion. But when coming to value a player the only benchmarks are the price of players around.

    Barry has surplanted Hargreaves and Carrick in the England midfield berth, he is the same age as them. Carrick cost Man Utd £18.6m, Hargreaves cost £17m. So how Barry cannot be anywhere near as valuable as either of those two players is a somewhat bizarre opinion (and probably pro-Liverpool opinion at that).

    Given that Liverpool could suddenly find £20m for Keane, you have to wonder why Benitez has made such a play for Barry since early May then failed to get him when he had the cash to do so. According to some Media sources Liverpool came up with the cash "15minutes after a deadline" and yet this money failed to materialise again when O'Neill said that Liverpool were still free to buy the player.

    Given that Barry played for Villa last night at his own insistence its apparent that the player recognises the deal is dead in the water.

    It appears Liverpool haven't really got any cash.

    As for title hopes? Given Liverpool's apparent desire to unsettle their closest rivals for 4th spot by unsettling their players(Spurs and Villa), I think they're more worried about losing 4th place than trying to go for a title challenge.

    Unfortunately, Liverpool fans are where Villa fans were 3-4 years ago - living on past glories that they expect to be repeated automatically because of who they are. They're missing the point of what's actually going on at there once great club.

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  • 239. At 11:02am on 15 Aug 2008, shaft120 wrote:

    I've been pleased that there's been no early optimism that we usualy see every year. I think after last year, we were let down with a large bang.

    Whilst the mid week performance was woeful, I have reason to be hopeful for the season and the future.

    I'll ignore the stupid comments about rotation because they're tosh. The only problem Rafa's had is not enough depth to rotate quality with quality - it's not the rotation policy that's bad (see Man U)

    I'll also ignore the stupid comments from commentators about Zonal marking. If it's been so awful for us over the past few years, why are we year in year out one of the teams with the best defensive record?

    I'm looking forward to several players coming into their own this year. Babel, who will be world class and is our one hope for the left side of the pitch. Pacheco, who should get a few games this year and is another great forward who's comfortable with the ball at his feet, and Leiva, who's taken a while to settle in but is starting to show why he's so highly rated in other parts of the world.

    Our main issue for me are our Full backs. If Rafa is going to rely on them to give us width, we'll need people like Philip Lahm and Daniel Alves, not Arbeloa (awful), Degen (who knows?), Dossena (clumsy so far), Riise (gone), Finnan (quality, but Rafa doesn't want him anymore).

    Frankly If I had to choose a back line for Liverpool at the moment it would be Aurelio Agger Skyrtel Carragher, with Finnan and Hypia as subs.

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  • 240. At 11:08am on 15 Aug 2008, thelovelyswissboy wrote:

    I can't help but laugh!
    Talk of Liverpool winning anything is so premature. They are only just getting by in a pre-qualifying round of the Champions League! This is madness!
    A little Irish chap who played for Wolves and Coventry and made only 6 appearances for Inter Milan is being hailed at Anfield as being the key to the title!!
    Ye gods, when will the scousers learn that they do not have a God given right to win anything. They are almost as bad as the Chelski loons.
    Liverpool need a decent, balanced midlfield before they can look at being at the same competitive level as Arsenal, Chelski and Man Utd.

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  • 241. At 11:17am on 15 Aug 2008, magicArsenal4lyfe wrote:

    I iz lyke postin in dis blog!

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  • 242. At 11:17am on 15 Aug 2008, RubberNutz wrote:

    Agree with you Phil, The lack of real strength out wide will cause a problem.

    A problem I feel could have been solved had it not been for Benitez's miopic obsession with Barry.

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  • 243. At 11:20am on 15 Aug 2008, dolequeue wrote:

    All the hype about Fernando Torres overlooks one very important fact.Of the 24 League goals scored by Torres only 3 were scored away from Anfailed.The first at Derby on Boxing day then the Riverside and finally on the last day of the season at Spurs.To win the title he will need to get his team more than 2 extra points away from home.It is fine scoring hat-tricks in 4-0 home wins but the title is won away from home and the spaniard has yet to cut it where it matters.Cristiano Ronaldo scored 10 goals on the road and the outcome needs no further illustration.

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  • 244. At 11:21am on 15 Aug 2008, BigShifty wrote:

    Having now read this entire thread for some reason (I dont even like liverpool),
    I dont think they will do well this season because they have failed to scale the consistently new heights of the top 2,

    Id say another 4th finish, and depending on what Arsenal do, maybe better than than in 09/10.

    Its been interesting though, I, like many others, had sort of written Liverpool off as consistent also rans who are getting better, but the truth is, they are actually looking worse for wear now than they have in the past.
    2nd and 3rd place finishes had them not far behind the leaders under Houllier, but last season was a flaccid penis, they never challenged at all,
    (even if they did finish not far behind, they were playing for 4th place the whole time)

    After all the hype around Torres and the admission by most that Arsenal would flop, Liverpool really lowered their stock by failing to deliver.
    And now as such the public opinion of them is distorted slightly from the truth.

    They have come fairly close, but they still dont quite have the consistency to take the premiership by the balls,

    Unless Benitez pulls out a Wenger of last season

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  • 245. At 11:24am on 15 Aug 2008, howitreallyis wrote:

    11 points off the title last year. If Rafa stopped rotating so much and stuck with a consistent side, those frustrating draws against the lower sides would have been wins and who knows. I hope he's learnt his lesson for this year and won't meddle as much. Consistency is key or Benetiz will be out come May. This season is his last chance.

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  • 246. At 11:29am on 15 Aug 2008, Chezdon wrote:

    We won't win the title. Simple. Unless Gerrard is going to be an attacking central midfielder he's wasted. I see a repeat of last season.

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  • 247. At 11:35am on 15 Aug 2008, gavin_cox wrote:

    I really am amazed how Robbie Keane has become a versatile attacking player? He is a Centre Forward with an great eye for goal, good movement and an excellent work rate. Most certainly he is not a wide player or an attacking midfielder. For Spurs he would be playing off Berbs’ flicks and creativity. I’m a big Keane fan as Centre Forward nothing more. He is a Rush not a Kenny.

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  • 248. At 11:45am on 15 Aug 2008, mcribs wrote:

    For all you Dossena haters by the way - I'd like to say I can't judge him yet as its only pre-season - and we've all seen the difference between Voronin in pre-season then in games that matter.

    Remember Evra's debut for Man Utd? played 45 minutes then was dragged off because he was absolutely diabolical - now he is one of the best left-backs in the league.

    Players need time to bed in and adapt. Robbie Keane had a shocker against Liege - touch was terrible and his decisions were awful. Those are two of the key aspects that make Keane an exciting and excellent player - he was just over-complicating things because he wants to impress.

    I believe a scrappy win over Sunderland this Saturday will get us on a roll and hopefully this season we can push united and chelsea close, ideally landing 2nd and teeing up a good punt at the league next year.

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  • 249. At 11:47am on 15 Aug 2008, Wotsanalias wrote:

    An excellent article. Rafa must stop tinkering! It is this rotation, and purely that, that has cost Liverpool league positions over the last few years.
    The signing of Keane could have a massive effect on the season, his partnership with Torres is crucial, but how often will they play together?
    My only disagreement is your comment on Barry. You say he's not worth £18m. How do you justify this? An England regular, and excellent professional who keeps himself in excellent condition (vital for his position), disciplined on and off the field, and most importantly, a tremendous role model for the young squad that O'Neill is assembeling. I think that from Villa's point of veiw, £18m is probably cheap.

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  • 250. At 11:47am on 15 Aug 2008, druss_the_legend wrote:

    Chelsea and Man U can be missing key players and still win comfortably.

    Remove Gerrard and Torres and liverpool last season looked a bit clueless - hard to beat yes but in the premier league you often just have to put a game to bed not be hard to beat.

    Contrary to what many say - the quality outside of the top 6 or 7 teams is quite poor. You need to just make sure you beat these teams and too often liverpool have drawn or even lost.

    Pennant is unintelligent and lacks quality, Benayoun is showing himself to be physically very limited. Rafa places too much emphasis on his "intelligence". Babel will never turn into the player everyone thinks he will, he lacks a good touch and composure.

    The problem is Liverpool had massive success with the 4-2-3-1 partly due to Gerrard in the hole and the presence of mascherano. I don't think we'll see them startng the league like this partly as Mascherano is in Beijing and Keane may start behind Torres so it is an unknown at this point.

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  • 251. At 11:48am on 15 Aug 2008, RAFAELGAFFA wrote:

    Its interesting to see how people are now comparing Benitez with Houllier. OK, so we have never properly ''challenged'' for the league under Benitez, but when did we ever challenge under Houllier? Our best season during his time in charge was in 2001-2002 when we finished 2nd. This happened to be the season when Houllier had his heart problems and spent 6 months out of the game. Credit should go to Phil Thompson for that seasons performance, not Houllier. Don't get me wrong, Houllier did a lot of good for our club, but he was only able to take the club to a certain level. To compare him and Benitez as football coaches is an insult.
    I had to laugh when I read that Houllier last year said he wished he had had a the money to buy somebody like Torres when he was in charge. Did he forget that he twice broke the club transfer record to buy in Diouf and Cisse, along with squandering millions on misfits like Diao, Cheyrou, Kewell, Le Tallec, Heskey. Where are these players now and did any of them ever really justify their price tags. At least Rafa can see when a player is not working out and is decisive enough to sell them on (usually at a profit as well, unlike Houllier).
    For all those fans knocking Benitez right now, just ask yourselves honestly where would we be right now if Houllier was still in charge? Perhaps if we just sack Rafa now, then in 5 years time, people might actually come to realise what a good manager and coach he is. If he left Liverpool tomorrow he would walk straight into the Real Madrid job. Enough said really.

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  • 252. At 11:49am on 15 Aug 2008, scottini wrote:

    Phil, I agree with what you are saying.

    The thing I find the most nausiating about this summer, is that the majority of football fans could see that our problem last season was width. Also, everyone could see the potential in Ryan Babel to eventually grow into the left side role.

    This then, begs the question, why pursue a central midfielder, who can also operate on the left. To me there was 1 position that needed attention ahead of everything else this summer, right mid.

    I take this to mean that his unwavering support of Dirk Kuyt on the right will continue (I admire his energy and desire - but he's not a wide player at all) this season.

    I agree with you in that, granted from only what I have seen thus far, he has picked up a couple of attacking, yet fairly poor full backs, and Robbie Keane. I rate Keane, but this is another point which I was concerned about. Firstly the value. I think we all know he's not a £20 million player, but more importantly, he is likely to fill the role that Gerrard excelled at last season, or be deployed on a flank. Both aren't good things as far as I can tell. Why take your captain out of a position he is in which genuinely scares teams? Torres/ Keane may grow into greatness, but how much better than Torres/ Gerrard can it realistically get?

    I don't think we will really challenge the top 2, although I think we may take the 3rd spot from Arsenal, but then this all depends on how their squad manages to gel and stay fit. Walcott needs a big season for me.

    I hope I am wrong, I really do, and that we can be in it all the way, but like last season, with what we have, I don't feel confident that we can get results home and away against the top 2.

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  • 253. At 11:59am on 15 Aug 2008, tinybisonstretcher wrote:

    Liverpool FC

    Could and should do better. Simple as.

    Top keeper
    Solid defence
    Strength in depth in the midfield
    Potentially word class and european dominating strikeforce.

    Problems
    Not a decent winger in sight. Why does rafa try to turn his strikers into wingers?
    i.e Cisse and Kuyt. it does not make sense. I know all the criticisms of Kuyt but he still weighs in with some goals and given a chance up front with torres could be a good foil for him. I do like Keane but £20m!! Too hefty.

    Money better spent on world class winger. Silva, Quaresma, a flair player who supporters get excited by.
    Benayoun is underrated and deserves a place in the team. he is one of few genuine creative players in the side, gerrard and alonso being the others. alonso is better than barry so i dont understand what all the fuss is about, we do not need him.

    To close, i dont feel that rafa knows his best team to compete in the premiership, and to compete and be genuine contenders, we need a period of continuity for the top players. Sustained runs in the team for the likes of Carra, Agger, torres, keane, gerrard, alonso and possibly benayoun to make sure we trun the draws of last season into wins. Without this we have no chance.

    Good luck to the boys in red and i hope the realist in me can turn into fantasy and bring the premiership to merseyside.

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  • 254. At 12:00pm on 15 Aug 2008, Wotsanalias wrote:

    shaft120,
    "I'll ignore the stupid comments about rotation because they're tosh. The only problem Rafa's had is not enough depth to rotate quality with quality - it's not the rotation policy that's bad "

    I've never heard such rubbish!!!!!!!

    If he's such a good manager, why does he continue to rotate players, if he hasn't got the quality to do it!!??!!

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  • 255. At 12:20pm on 15 Aug 2008, BrowningIRL wrote:

    I have watched Liverpool since Rafa took over 5 years ago and while I think we have improved overall, I still think he has failed to address the fundamental issue that we will face again this season, that is that when teams sit back or deny us the space to play, we dont have the creativity to break these teams down. Well not in the same way as MAN Utd or Arsenal. What is the point in having a combined strikeforce of Torres and Keane if we cant feed them the type of ball any forward needs. We have no one with creative players with a genuine creative spark on a consistent basis to open up packed defences. The option of the long haul hoof has now deminished with Crouch's departure, so we will need to rely more on our creativity. The Stanard Leige Game on Wednesday was a prime example where Keane or Torres got no supply and might of been as well off at home sitting in front of the fire. Why has Rafa failed to see what to me is obvious and has been since he took over and signing a string of second rate wingers or trying to convert strikers into wingers for me is not the answer.

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  • 256. At 12:21pm on 15 Aug 2008, 5ForKeeps wrote:

    "All the hype about Fernando Torres overlooks one very important fact.Of the 24 League goals scored by Torres only 3 were scored away from Anfailed.The first at Derby on Boxing day then the Riverside and finally on the last day of the season at Spurs.To win the title he will need to get his team more than 2 extra points away from home.It is fine scoring hat-tricks in 4-0 home wins but the title is won away from home and the spaniard has yet to cut it where it matters.Cristiano Ronaldo scored 10 goals on the road and the outcome needs no further illustration."

    Dolequeue just like your name you should go back on it. The Spanaird has yet to cut it, will you just take a look at how that sounds. 24 goals in 33 Premiership games, in his first season in English football and all goals from open play. How many goals did Ronaldo score from deadballs?? The title is won on grounding out results for "the team". What sorts out a title winning team from an also ran is winning tight games away and home if not playing by the odd goal. Utd won a lot of 1-0 wins last season if you check your facts which helped win Utd the title not just because Ronaldo got 10 goals away from home. Look at how many of those 10 goals were crucial and from set pieces. Belittling Torres achievement is a typical Manc.

    The fact he turned you down at the end of the 2006 WC and came too Liverpool the summer after really must stick in the craw.

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  • 257. At 12:21pm on 15 Aug 2008, unbeatablericey08 wrote:

    Good article Phil, i totally agree with your points and i think Liverpool are still short of a couple of players.... its seems every summer when the season starts that i think if Liverpool just bought a couple more players they would be in the top 2.... the whole Barry thing has been a Farce as someone said earlier if Man Utd or Chelsea go for a player at the likes of Aston Villa they get him.end off. With barry in the team Liverpool would look much more balanced i saw them against Rangers in pre season and they stuffed us to be fair and looked really good, but that isnt exactly a challenge at the minute !?!?! watched the game againt Leige and they looked short on confidence and ideas, cant remember the amount of long balls they played up to Torres....... of course Keane needs time to gel and he is a very clever player with wonderful touch and vision, i agree with the 4-2-3-1 formation could see it working but will take time, teams cant just expect to play like Man Utd and Arsenal takes alot of work on the training ground and playing alot of games as the players get to know each others movements inside out.... if Man Utd get Berbatov then i think they will win the title by a few points, Chelsea will play with more flair for sure with big phil at the helm but Utd on there day are the best team, anyway keep up the good work Phil you have the best job in the world !!

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  • 258. At 12:25pm on 15 Aug 2008, davidelnino wrote:

    spot on with your predictions. i am an avid liverpool supporter, and i try to be the optimist, but 3rd place in the league will the best we will manage, unless between now and the end of the window we sign TWO TOPCLASS WINGERS, that is the achilles heal of our team. 3rd in the league and hoping we can win an important cup, either FA Cup or Champions League.

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  • 259. At 12:33pm on 15 Aug 2008, WeeBG1 wrote:

    Don't rate benitez, his team clearly needs width and he's not bought it.

    His signing policy has been suspect at best.

    I'm backing him to be 1st manager sacked.

    The best business he's done apart from Torres is getting rid of that donkey Crouch. Keane will be a very good player for Pool but i think that they are still someway short of Man u and Chelsea, for this Rafa will pay with his job.

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  • 260. At 12:35pm on 15 Aug 2008, Mrhigherbeing wrote:

    My opinion is that we could, in the realms of possibility, win the title, but I am not putting my money on it. Very good, clear and honest evaluation. Thanks (comeon Pool!)

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  • 261. At 12:47pm on 15 Aug 2008, ILoveTheNHS wrote:

    I can't see Liverpool being consistent enough under Benitez to mount a challenge for the Premiership.

    There's a lot of talk about Rafa's rotations and this must play a part in their lack of consistency. And, every year, he adds quite a few players to the squad who fail to make an impact.

    I can even see Liverpool soon being pushed out of the top four by Spurs, Everton or even Pompey.

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  • 262. At 12:48pm on 15 Aug 2008, myteamownsyours wrote:

    karim1981 says he's an honest liverpoo fan.

    That idea went straight out the window when he said Barry's not even worth 8m.

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  • 263. At 12:48pm on 15 Aug 2008, uhavinalaugh wrote:

    @sol cal dandie
    lloydjameshh, what a fool you must be if you think you can compare SAF and Rafa!!

    Fergie arrived at United at a time when English clubs were banned form europe, Liverpool were dominant and the league did not just have 4 clubs who were capable of winning trophies!!

    so you are in agreement with lloyd then?
    that SAF had time to mold his squad for a lot longer (without the disruption of europe) and only managed one cup in 5 years?
    there was less media hoolahoo back then. One can only imagine what it is like to have rafa unfriendly media (no offence Phil ;o)) hounding a team into submission nowadays.
    Fine, the team has some barely average players it has to shed, why they are still around who knows.

    I think this season will be positively different; the good thing is i am patient enough to wait to find out

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  • 264. At 12:48pm on 15 Aug 2008, bendickster wrote:

    Every year i get excited about this maybe being our season, but this year i'm properly worried. A quick, skillful winger for either side would make me breathe easy again! pre-season form is never a true indication of how a team will play, but even looking at spurs and villa with that in mind they look much more balanced in attack. On wednesday yossi kept drifting in, as does kuyt, i dont remember anyone pushing down either flank succesfully. I dont believe there's anyone better than rafa to do the job at the moment and would be distraught if he were to leave, but how can he achieve anything when the whole club is pulling in different directions. Rather than predicting a title challenge, i'l be surprised if we finnish with the same manager and even a champions league place at the end of all this.

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  • 265. At 12:53pm on 15 Aug 2008, HalfYankIan wrote:

    Liverpool fans make me laugh...

    If you listen to them every season then you'll get the following without fail (I promise!) -

    - they've won the league title in August...

    ("Oh yeah. It's definately ours this year, look at our signings")

    - but then lost it in September

    ("Yeah. We're out of it this year, but we've still won the Champions League 5 times").

    I've had more of the same-old same-old from all my Liverpool supporting mates this pre-season and boring and repetitive as it is, it's still nice to see them completely quiet by October!

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  • 266. At 12:54pm on 15 Aug 2008, theghost2 wrote:

    Liverpool will finish fourth this season, at best third. They do not have a strong enough squad to challenge United and Chelsea over the course of a whole season, and if any of the backbone of the team (Gerrard, Torres and Carragher) are injured/suspended they look like an average team. A big problem Liverpool could face this season is getting off to their typically sluggish start, as i anticipate Spurs and Villa improving greatly from last season, so if off to a bad start Liverpool could be left chasing more than the other 'big four'.

    I've read a lot of posts, presumably from Liverpool supporters, bemoaning that the luck or chances haven't gone their way in games against the other sides in the top four, and if they had they'd have been a lot closer to winning the title. But that is what the difference between seriously challenging for titles and finishing third and fourth is. To win titles you have to be able to consistantly beat the teams in and around the top, and have the ability to kill games off and take your chances, which under Benitez Liverpool have been unable to do.

    It also amazes me how simple criticism is taken, by some (though not all) Liverpool supporters as some kind of national conspiracy against their club.

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  • 267. At 12:55pm on 15 Aug 2008, Stephen wrote:

    Some quite interesting points here. I especially like the one about Chelski being wingless. Nobody seems to mention this?

    A Christmas three formation could be a very interesting option. If this was the case, I could see the team being as follows...

    Reina

    Carragher Agger
    Finnan / Arbeloa Dossena / Aurelio

    Alonso Mascherano Lucas

    Gerrard Keane

    Torres

    This would then allow Babel and Benayoun to be impact subs as they both played very well when coming on last season. Kuyt would be also a decent back-up.

    As for the formation, all the above mentioned full backs are adept at breaking forward down the wings and I particularly rate Finnan and Aurelio as two of the best crossers of a ball from full back in the entire league.

    We must also mention that Agger is back and he can now move the ball from the back (either by dribbling or spraying passes) ala Alan Hansen, especially with the added cover of having three defensive / centre midfielders.

    We also have Skrtel who I felt was excellent last year after a shaky start.

    This leaves Pennant. I feel Pennant could do a really good job, however not in the way Benitez sets up his teams. If we were to play 4-4-2 and if we had of held onto Crouch, then yes, Pennant would have been very useful but at present, if we were to get £5-7 million for him, I would take it.

    Another point of note is how many commentators have suggested that a league winning team needs a strong Goalkeeper and Defence. I keep hearing Van der Sar / Vidic / Ferdinand and Cech / Terry / Carvalho being mentioned, yet Pepe Reina has won the Golden Gloves in every season that he has been at the club.

    Then of course, another favourite of commentators is to hype up Arsenals youngsters and say that they are just a lttle too inexperienced. Well what about Liverpools youngsters? Pacheco, Ngog, Nemeth, Spearing, Darby, Plessis and Idriajz could all be helpful this season especially when allied with the more experienced first teamers.

    Therefore, I can see us really putting in a good title challenge and lets not forget by everyone saying that Chelsea and United are favourites might work in our favour especially if they are too occupied with each other to worry about us!

    YNWA

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  • 268. At 12:55pm on 15 Aug 2008, OptimisticScouse wrote:

    I am disappointed in many of the liverpool fans that have posted here, i understand that your sick and tired of falling short. But we wouldnt be liverpool fans without being optimistic, the title is there to be won. And although there are some tough teams like chelsea and man u, we have to believe we can do it. The only difference between man u and liverpool is confidence and experience, the reason why they are so dominant is because they have experience of winning it and are never short of confidence. Sure we have problems like on the flanks, but so do chelsea and man u. Chelsea dont score enough, and conceed late goals, and man u underestimate teams at times. People forget that we scored the most goals of any team last year. Sure it will be difficult but i would certainly like to think we can do it. Theres realistic and then theres pestimistic have some hope and belief!!!

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  • 269. At 12:55pm on 15 Aug 2008, mrsvennis69 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 270. At 12:58pm on 15 Aug 2008, spanglishdan wrote:

    Same Same Same.......

    Haven't got enough quality, wide players arent good enough bla bla bla.

    the fact that we keep hearing the same comments is because it is fact, unfortunatley!!

    robbie keane is a great signing but if gerrard or Torres is out injured for any period of time we will still be miles away.

    Barry a good player that will drastically improve england over the next 12 months but not needed at anfield, sorry gareth!

    Rotation not a problem, zonal marking not a problem, system not a problem. We just miss two playes that can operate in the system effectively with variety by getting wide and creating through the middle when necessary.

    Can we break the bank for iniesta and silva please or find two players of their ilk?

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  • 271. At 1:11pm on 15 Aug 2008, ish90an wrote:

    I cant see Liverpool going anywhere other than 4th spot this season. In terms of overall squad quality and depth, they dont come near Chelsea or Man United, and Arsenal were unlucky with injuries and bad decisions along with some pathetic captaincy from Gallas last season, or they would have finished 2nd at least, if not won the whole thing. Liverpool have few class players in Torres, Gerrard and maybe Babel, but that's about it. No strength on the wings at all and that takes away some of their pace away in counter attacks(lets not forget how quick United were with those last season). If I were in Benitez's shoes, I would have gone for a quality winger instead of Robbie Keane, simply coz Gerrard and Torres have already formed a strong partnership and understanding and you dont want to disturb that. Where does Gerrard play now? Deep in midfield? He's wasted there, and is much better linking up with Torres upfront. Bad signing in Keane, and Liverpool fans should be happy they havent signed Barry either. Benitez ought to try for that FA Cup, that's his only chance of silverware with the strength United, Chelsea, Barca and Inter will have in Europe.

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  • 272. At 1:14pm on 15 Aug 2008, Mofox wrote:

    You know Phil you get a lot of stick sometimes particularly from the Liverpool fans.

    I feel one thing your article shows is how every season Liverpool always garner attention from every quarter: fans, pundits etc. Everyone is always interested in what Liverpool are going to do. Why aren't we all talking about this so called 2 horse race - who will take it this year Chelsea or Man Utd?

    I believe its because we know that Liverpool are extremely close to making a challenge. Everyone talks about rotation and zonal marking and transfer deals etc but really everyone knows that Liverpool have the all the pieces to make a challenge now (this is ultimately the biggest frustration for all Liverpool fans). I mean say hypothetically we do win the title next year. What will you say then? All the pieces finally came together? or Liverpool punched above their weight and had an exceptional season for what they've got? I bet you it would be the first one.

    Note that if Liverpool had beaten UTD twice instead of the other way around we would have 1 more point than them last season. In addition we actually lost less games last year than UTD.

    This would indictae we are difficult to beat but can't turn the draws into wins. The difference between a draw and a win is just 1 goal. If Keane can provide that then maybe we do finally have the final piece of the puzzle.

    Only time will really tell.

    Bottom line is only Liverpool fans will have the balls to stick their neck out and say we can win the league this year, I doubt any pundit would be brave to really say what they think. I think deep inside most people fancy Liverpool for a title push hence the attention - but will never be brave enough to say so.

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  • 273. At 1:17pm on 15 Aug 2008, The Answer is NO! wrote:

    OptimisticScouse.....

    Liverpool scored 67 goals last season, Man Utd scored 80. Where you get the idea that Liverpool scored the most?

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  • 274. At 1:17pm on 15 Aug 2008, Scottishscouser wrote:

    1, rotation...we should have a consistent team...Rafa said he will have the players fit to mount a challenge on the title when every1 else is tired..but Utd and Chelsea didnt get tired and they played a more or less consistent team all season long.
    -------------------------------------
    I wish people would check their facts before posting. Rafa 'rotated' only as much as SAF and Grant. Therefore, by definition Utd and Chelsea did not play a consistent team all season long! Too many people take as gospel what Thompson, Merson, Gale and Stelling say on Sky Sports.

    And to the poster that said Rafa sold Crouch; he didn't! Crouchy wanted to leave; and turned down a new contract. He wanted guarenteed first team footy. He wasn't going to get that guarentee from Rafa. Mark my words, Merson or one of his mates will critisise Rafa for selling Crouch at some point during this season!

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  • 275. At 1:19pm on 15 Aug 2008, adepejus wrote:

    I don't see liverpool winning the title and i think Rafa will be the first coach to be sacked.

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  • 276. At 1:21pm on 15 Aug 2008, AlexAlexAlexAlex wrote:

    Why oh why do Liverpool never spend any money on wingers which they so desperately need, yet waste time and money buying more and more central midfielders. Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard - if there's one position Liverpool can match Chelsea and Manchester United it's there. Yet on the wings, they have Pennant and Kuyt, United have Ronaldo and Nani. It's not hard to spot the problem, imagine what Torres could do if he had Beckham quality service from the wings?

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  • 277. At 1:24pm on 15 Aug 2008, OptimisticScouse wrote:

    I didnt say in the premier league i said the most goal over all competitions go back and look at what i said

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  • 278. At 1:27pm on 15 Aug 2008, bennyhughes wrote:

    I agree that we may be still at little off the pace at the end of this season.

    I think it is fairly obvious, however, that Keane will sit just off Torres, as Gerrard did last season. Gerrard will move out wide, a position he scored over 20 goals from. The beauty of Gerrard is he will 'take one for the team' and play without complaint. Regardless of the position he plays in, he is one of the best players in the world.

    Full back positions may cause us some issues, but I would play Carra at right back with Agger and Skrtel in the middle. Alonso/Barry alongside the excellent Mascherano is as strong as anything as a holding pair.

    Without serious injuries, we could push all the way, and on paper we are very close to Utd and Chelsea. Only time will tell!!!

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  • 279. At 1:29pm on 15 Aug 2008, redcjw wrote:

    Does any real Liverpool fan truely expect us to win the league this season? As fan for over 30 years I do not. My expectations are for third place, simply the strength of the squad and deepth is not comparable to Chelsea or Utd.
    The board are unwilling or unable to back Rafa with the funds he needs to bridge the final gap to reach the top. Dossena, Degen and Cavelli would never had been on Utd or Chelsea's shopping list.
    Until this is recognised by all, it will be extremely difficult to win the title. I also feel any poor run of results would be the end of Rafa as the board are looking for any excuse. This would be a disaster, and the clear division between rafa and the board are huge distraction that we don't need.


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  • 280. At 1:38pm on 15 Aug 2008, Bluenose wrote:

    The 'big club' on Merseyside will fail to win the title for the 19th time in a row. What 'big club' anywhere in the world can equal such a record?

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  • 281. At 1:44pm on 15 Aug 2008, 5thstar wrote:

    As a realistic liverpool fan I am under no illusions that we are going to win the league.

    Under rafa's tulelage it is a working progress that will take a few more seasons for him to fight the financial muscle of the likes of man and chelsea. Its a shame that footy has ow turned to who can spend the most money!

    But in saying that rafa has spend his fair bit even though i feel this summers additions to the squad are no better than we already had!

    Keane will offer us a new dimension but unless he is going to play right up top with torres, I feel the 20m could have been used to bring in a quality wide player!

    Even then I cant see where barry would fit i nto our system pershaps out wide of the left! Maybe rafa is going for an extremly functional team that can create from all areas as opposed to a team with direct cutting edge!

    barry got a handful of assist same as dossena and keane...

    however my starting line would be as follows as i feel it accomadate all our quality
    3-4-1-2

    reina
    skrtel carragher agger
    kuyt mascherano alonso babel
    gerrard
    keane torres

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  • 282. At 1:45pm on 15 Aug 2008, OptimisticScouse wrote:

    Until someone knocks us off our perch we will always be known as THE MOST SUCCESSFUL CLUB in the land!!!!

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  • 283. At 1:47pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Bluenose - Ask of Chelsea what big club in the world has never won a European championship.

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  • 284. At 1:52pm on 15 Aug 2008, bannedgunner wrote:

    "So, in your estimation, Man U's 3rd place finish 2002 is more credible than Liverpool's 3rd place in 06. Yet, the facts suggest otherwise. Short memory? Or just couldn't let the facts get in the way of a "good" argument??

    It's all history now anyway, but if you backed your arguments with a little fact they'd make a little more sense."

    No you just keep missing the point. When Liverpool finished 3rd they were not in title chase. You finished 3rd when other team run out of steam! You are a 4th place team.

    "in your estimation, Man U's 3rd place finish 2002"

    I didn't say 20-02. 2004, They finished 3rd behind Chelsea and Arsenal but they were in title race until April.

    The year you finished 1 point behind Man U, you were not in title chase. Man United was. With no pressure and Man U
    fighting on toward FA cup, your team per usual collected late garbage points to make it look as if you were close 3rd. You were not, Following year showed it that you were not.

    You collect garbage point in the end of season and delude yourself that you were not that far off.
    What happened after that great 82 point haul? Zilch.

    My point stands: Liverpool has only finished 3rd when a team from top 4 has faltered.

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  • 285. At 1:56pm on 15 Aug 2008, shoreface wrote:

    How can we expect to beat the teams above us whilst buying players from teams below us?? I'm Irish but Robbie Keane is a terrible "Striker" we hate him in the national team. Rafa benitez can't piece together an attacking team with imagination. Its all defend (which we are very frail) defend and launch a long ball. We will not Win the title, we will not chanllenge for second, thankfully some of the other teams that are slightly below haven't really strengthened
    so we may still hang onto fourth again this season.
    Rafa has spent enough money by now to be a top two team,
    instead he bemoans more money for less than adequate players.
    Pennant £8mil for what?? Dossena £8mil for Italy's most
    improved player, that did not make their poor national side.
    Degen a freeby that couldn't get in the worst Swiss team in years.
    Keane £20mil I can't fathom why we spent that on him with David Villa
    for the same price. Ngog 1 goal for PSG, not a remarkable talent
    that we have been sold by Rafa. He has made few good buys.
    Reina, Agger, Skrtel, Masch, Torres and Babel. 6 players out
    of some 50 signings he has made is not a success rate anyone would boast
    about, its roughly 12%. If we were honest with ourself we should have
    backed the owners last year when they were trying to get someone
    else in. We would / could have gotten a certain Jose in, he wanted
    the Liverpool job before and this time would love to have taken the
    job off Rafa and do one over Abramovich. But no the majority sung
    for a guy who is doing his best, if I was so unsuccessful with my own
    football team I know I'd be sacked. Another disastrous season
    and another season Gerrard and us Reds will be missing
    the league Title. The day Man U match our title will be a disaster.
    With Rafa incharge that day is coming sooner and sooner.
    The expression of Mutton dressed as Lamb describe Rafa
    and his signings this summer.

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  • 286. At 2:01pm on 15 Aug 2008, LFCLEE5 wrote:

    I agree with Phil in that i dont feel we have the team to win the title this season. The teams above us are simply stronger and better financed. It makes sense that the teams above us have spent more! so all we can realistically expect is to simply compete with united and chelsea. however, we still manage to be the most consistent team in europe!!
    i do feel we have a team capable of performing more consistently and with greater confidence than last season. The young signings will have have greater confidence and more experience of playing at anfield and know exactly what the anfield crowd expect.
    Personally, i will be gutted if we dont get Barry. True he is massively overpriced but he is a player we desparately need. Whilst i admire Alonsos committment and effort for the reds i just feel he lacks the pace of premier league play. In la liga or serie A i have no doubt he would be the best player in the league but too many times in the prem he gets caught on the ball and his long spraying passes, whilst they look nice, dont give the other players the chance to get forward and support the attacks. Barry is stronger in the tackle and plays the easier sensible balls at a greater tempo and covers more ground. his presence would link the defence with midfield alot better than at present. With him and mascherano protecting the back 4 anfield truly would become a fortress again.
    I dont see a problem if gerrard is pushed out to the right. this is were he had one of his most productive liverpool season to date. Surely a liverpool captain is willing to play anywere for the greater good of the team. It is the club who pay the wages so the players should simply do as there told.
    I also found it amusing just how quickly the pundits were writing us off after the leige game. We drew away from home against the belgain champs! its not like we were playing some semi-pro part-timers. we very rarely attack away from home in europe and simply try to keep possession and then wear them down at anfield. all leige managed to do was smash the ball whenever they got it and foul us!! yet the commentators (as usual) and townsend etc have written us of already!! it strikes me that although many of these pundit may have been good at playing the game they actually understand very little about the game.
    We may not win the title for another decade but i still genuinely believe that rafa is the best manager for the job. who is genuinely a better available replacement than him???? the man lives for the game.
    It is only in England were the press doubt his abilities. Any of italy and spains top clubs would love to have rafa at the helm.
    Rafa buys footballers - not media icosn that come with baggage - when was the last time we heard of a liverpool player in a sex scandal?? falling out of a nightclub?? any who do cause trouble or do not adapt are quickly frozen out and shown the exit. people are quick to highlight his buys that have failed but fail to point out that he also sells alot at profit. it is the same with his tactics. everyone highlights the weaknesses of rotation and zonal marking but fail to look at actual statistics of his tactics that tell a different story.
    Arsene wengers reputation for unearthing gems at bargain prices is massivley exaggerated when you look at some of his buys in terms of there actual costs and what they actually achieved.
    Were ever we finish i will still support rafa and the reds as im sure will many hundreds of thousands of others. we are playing in the most difficult league in europe with the 2 richest clubs in the world above us. we need to be realistic and just support the reds through thick and thin.
    managers like rafa dont make it to the top for nothing.....im sure every red would love to see Andy Townsend, Andy Gray, etc at the helm as they so clearly know exactly were the problems lie at each and every club in the country!!!!

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  • 287. At 2:04pm on 15 Aug 2008, captaintruered wrote:

    I can't see us challenging ManU or Chelski or even Arsenal. We are currently not in that top league - the inability to find the money to sign Barry shows that. Mind you we could have saved 8million by not signing Dossena!! Andrea who?? and Degen - doesn't look as good as Finnan or Arbeloa!
    Could never understand us getting rid of Warnock - better than Aurelio, Dossena and Riise, but then he was English!
    I think we'll struggle to make the top 6 - it might depend how long it takes Rafa to work out his best 11 - and then whether or not he plays it consistently!

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  • 288. At 2:07pm on 15 Aug 2008, OptimisticScouse wrote:

    You havent got a clue what your talking about shorface i dont know what your thinking in ireland but us who are from liverpool back rafa 100 percent. Maybe you havent seen NGOG play but i have twice once in glasgow and against lazio the other night and he is fantastic for 1.5m he is our best signing he will be BIG you watch!!!

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  • 289. At 2:11pm on 15 Aug 2008, ericseyebrows wrote:

    To my mind, Benithez just does not have different plans against different teams. he often plays the same formation whether it is at home/ away or the team they are playing against. Fair enough Keane is a cracking player (not worth £20M), but he scored a lot of goals in a Tottenham team that were very attack minded and not so tight in defence as Liverpool. Therefore, I will not be surprised to see Keane score far less goals for Liverpool even though Liverpool are a superior team. Benithez plays 4-4-1-1 every game with Gerrard just behind Torres. I do not think he has the confidence in playing two out an out wingers (Babel, Pennant) but he has to play Mascherano, Alonso, Gerrard, Kuyt, Benayoun, Lucas, Plessis centrally. Benithez plays the same formation sometimes with squad players all the time. Fair enough a tough team away you may have to play 4-5-1 but not all the time. For example, against Wigan last year at home, he only played one striker and tried to sit on a 1-0 lead only to be sting by Bramble. Liverpool sometimes do not try to kill games off against weaker opposition but rather try and hold onto a lead much like Chelsea but unlike United and Arsenal. Furthermore, Liverpools defence lacks pace and they have to have a holding midfielder in front of them, where as United sometimes often play with two playmakers in central midfield against the weaker teams (Scholes, Carrick), because they know Rio and Vidic are top quality added to Evras pace at the back they can retrieve to their position quickly. The full backs are not good enough on the ball and are unwilling to get forward and overlap or offer any width. I am a United fan and I can't remember Liverpool being robbed at Anfield. I just remember Liverpool having a lot of possession, creating very few clear cut chances and us scoring off a set piece. In conclusion, I expect Liverpool to be 10 points off the winners. Good and fair article though!

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  • 290. At 2:14pm on 15 Aug 2008, OptimisticScouse wrote:

    For Fooks Sake Eric its Benitez not Benithez

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  • 291. At 2:16pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Complaining that Benitez plays the same formation all the time seems ludicrous. I can think of times he's played 4-4-1-1, but I can also think of plenty of 4-4-2s, a lot of 4-2-3-1s, and a few 4-3-3s, which seem to inevitably be utter disasters.

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  • 292. At 2:18pm on 15 Aug 2008, LFCLEE5 wrote:

    to SHOREFACE..

    with regards to ngog only having scored one goal for PSG.
    its obvious rafa hasnt signed him directly for this season. im not saying he will be any good but remember liverpool also signed a certain Ian Rush from Chester despite him having played 20 games and only scoring 1 goal. terrible record eh...what were we thinkin signin rushie....he never did much for us eh!!!
    its a managers/scouts job to spot potential.
    you would honestly take someone like mourinho over rafa??? i dont think you know much about the liverpool way mate. were not about egos! and its a sad day when we replace a modest quite man with a egotistic loud mouth press monger like mourinho over benitez

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  • 293. At 2:26pm on 15 Aug 2008, The Answer is NO! wrote:

    If Liverpool had only scored goals to turn draws into wins rather than putting millions past European minnows then they may win something. But yet again Benitez will meddle and break things. I'm glad you're all happy for him to stay at Liverpool...this way Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal have another season with one less team to worry about!

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  • 294. At 2:33pm on 15 Aug 2008, SalemHanna wrote:

    First? Not getting my hopes up. Not because we haven't improved (Agger back from injury, Keane added to squad, plus Alonso and Torres should be able to build on post-Euro 2008 confidence) but because all the top 4 teams are so good, it would be over-optimistic for any one of them to think they have a particularly favourable chance over all of the others.

    If Arsenal hadn't lost Eduardo and dropped 2 points against Brum, the end of the season could have looked very different.

    Man U will put more effort into defending their European title than their domestic one, which could prove to be a distraction. And we've yet to see what impact the summer has had on Ronaldo's relationship with his teammates: he may want to play for Utd again, but will they be as happy playing with him?

    As for Chelsea, they have a world-class manager who is unproven in the Premiership, with several talented big-name signings who are similarly unproven here. They are like the Eurofighter aircraft - the best in their field on paper, but until you're out there joining in the fight, you won't discover your flaws the hard way.

    I have to say, Chelsea will probably win it this year, but I honestly think we have a decent shot at second place and as Phil says, a cup is within our grasp. Will cheer the lads on all season no matter where we come. YNWA.

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  • 295. At 2:34pm on 15 Aug 2008, Douglas Lee wrote:

    As long as Liverpool have such a useless manager they won't win zilch!

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  • 296. At 2:39pm on 15 Aug 2008, Liverpooljam87 wrote:

    Good honest article. I would love to see us win the title this season but I simply don't think we have enough quality in the wide areas.

    Briefly watching some friendlies and the full game on Wednesday night, Dossena hasn't impressed. He looked very uncomfortable going forward and his defending so far leaves a lot to be desired. I know it's early days and I'm possibly jumping the gun but I've seen us bring in players like him before who haven't lasted. And I'm still not totally convinced about Fabio Aurelio's long-term form and fitness.

    We've also brought in Phillippe Degen, who wasn't even in the starting eleven for Switzerland at Euro 2008. So questions must be asked over whether he is going to make the grade. Plus, I heard reports that Benitez had 'fell out' with Steve Finnan, which would be a massive blow for us as he is by far our best full-back.

    I do rate Arbeloa though, I think he's got what it takes. He's second only to a brilliant Sergio Ramos in the Spain squad, and that speaks volumes for him.

    Looking at the wings and I just can't see where the supply is going to come for the strikers. Pennant has had two poor seasons in my opinion and should be sold. Kuyt is a grafter and can be creative too, but he's not an out-and-out winger like we need. Benayoun appears to play better behind the two strikers and Babel plays better when he's up front. So who have we got?

    I think Benitez needs to think long and hard before the end of the transfer window about who else he brings in. If he can get hold of one or hopefully two good out-and-out wingers, then we might have a chance.

    And the full-backs he's brought in need to be good enough too.

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  • 297. At 2:43pm on 15 Aug 2008, ericseyebrows wrote:

    Apologies, for spelling Liverpool Managers name wrong! From a neutral, whilst you may think 4-3-3, is different from 4-5-1 is different, your personnel reflect which system it is. Its very much trying to fit square pegs in round holes. There are very few out and out wingers at Liverpool with Babel being the exception. However, look at how few games he satrted last year and see how many times he got subbed. Kuyt is not a winger but Pennant is so why not pick Pennant. Benitez needs to be brave and sometimes play Alonso, Gerrard, Pennant and Babel with Keane and Torres up front against the lower teams home and away. More creativity and golas in that midfield. Pennant is not ideal and that is hwy Liverpool should try and purchase another winger (SWP, Milner, Bentley, Downing) would have done a good job.

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  • 298. At 2:50pm on 15 Aug 2008, longfella wrote:

    i've got a bad feeling about the pool this season. i'm hoping for a fourth place finish, but even that will be a battle.

    spurs, blackburn, man city, villa and even sunderland will all be pushing after some shrewd summer signings.

    I can't see the shape of the team as yet. benayoun is overrated, kuyt played out of position, babel has "potential".

    Even the style of football being played hasn't improved in the last 5 years.

    4th or 5th place. i hope i'm proven wrong.

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  • 299. At 2:52pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    I'm thinking more about the wings, and wondering if criticism in this area is a bit unfounded.

    I share the criticisms of Kuyt as a striker, but if I'm honest with myself, he was impressive when he started getting pulled back to a wing role. I remember a CL game - I forget against whom. Arsenal, I think. But Kuyt was a winger going almost back to defending roles, and he was solid. Not a flashy player, but a workhorse who kept the right side well-blocked for attackers, and who worked his way up to provide some good crosses.

    Babel remains fine on the left. Benayoun is a fine substitute on the wings. And Pennant, much as I slag him off, was great in the CL final in 2007, and there may yet be hope for him.

    I'd still like to see another great winger arrive, I'm not sure, thinking about it more, that it's as bad as all that. Babel seems to me about the equal of Joe Cole, for instance, and I can't think of any other Chelsea wingers I'd swap into our side.

    I mean, it's easy to despair that Chelsea will destroy all, but position for position, I think they're pretty well-matched. There can be no complaints about a Liverpool defense that conceded the fewest goals in the league. The wings, as I said, are pretty even. Gerrard is as good an attacking central midfielder as any of Chelsea's three (Deco, Lampard, and Ballack). Liverpool lacks the ridiculous depth in this position that Chelsea has, but Alonso is a fine back-up here, and really, Chelsea's attacking midfield is wasteful.

    Mascherano is the best CDM in the world. Our backup in this area is crap, while Chelsea's is pretty good, but I'm not stressing there.

    Drogba and Torres are a fine match. Keane and Anelka are a fine match.

    I actually fancy our chances pretty well for second. I just don't see how we'll overcome Man U.

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  • 300. At 3:00pm on 15 Aug 2008, end2endgame wrote:

    PhilSandifer - If Gerrard is better than Lampard, and Torres better than Drogba then howcome they haven't won the league yet? nevermind the Champs lge here i'm talking about the Premiership.

    And Rob3108 fact is Giggs would walk into the Liverpool 1st 11 - even at 34! Have a bit more respect for one of the Premierships greats - This from a Chelsea fan.

    ..and whoever it was who said that Mascherano is a better player than Essien - Get real!! while Mascherano is a great player, Michael Essien is a force of Nature and versatility personified. He can play ANYWHERE in defence and midfield. How many other players can do that? and his workrate is phenomenal - its tiring just watching him.

    DrForsyth - like your sense of humour about bringing Souness back to Liverpool. You don't support Everton or Man Utd by any chance?

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  • 301. At 3:03pm on 15 Aug 2008, uhavinalaugh wrote:

    @lfclee5
    wrote
    im sure every red would love to see Andy Townsend, Andy Gray, etc at the helm as they so clearly know exactly were the problems lie at each and every club in the country!!!!

    if you've ever watched espn on european nights then you'll understand this....andy gray aint got nothing on tommy smythe. His analysis is Voronin par, at best!
    Well at least andy gray played the game and played well..

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  • 302. At 3:04pm on 15 Aug 2008, DiversRed wrote:

    Lets get one ling straight... Liverpool will 110% definitely finish in the top 4. Anyone who doubts that should lay of the glue at nights. Wether or not we put together a serious tittle chalenge remains to be seen. I actually think that if Man U slip this season at all then its anyones game as i feel they are the team to beat as much as i hate it. Arsenal i cant see even having as good a season as they did last season and may take "Big Phil" a while to get Chelsea palying they way he wants and i can see them struggling to start of with. If we can get a good start to the season and be top or there abouts by Christmas then game on, if not its another year without the league.

    I agree with a lot of people on here also that its a frame of mind thing. Liverpool need to belive from the boot boy through to Rafa that we can win the league or it will never happen. Yea the others are good, yea we are lacking in quality wingers but remeber that Rafa done it with a fairly average Valencia....twice. And that was when Madrid were in full flow with Zidane, Ronaldo, Figo, Beckham, Carolos, Raul etc. Barca werent exactly rubbish either.

    They need to belive, it wont be easy and they will have to be up for every game whether its a wet wednesday night it Stoke or Man U at Old Trafford. But its not impossible....

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  • 303. At 3:07pm on 15 Aug 2008, tarquin wrote:

    Keane is fine - but what is going to happen in midfield? Is Rafa going to adopt 4-4-2 with Gerrard being more central and effectively replacing Alonso, because I can't see Rafa dropping Mascherano. Surely he can't keep the 5-man midfield with Keane, unless he's planning to use Keane on the right, which, while better than Kuyt, would be a waste of him because he should be up behind Torres.

    Maybe he will drop Mascherano for the 'easier' games, but I really do struggle to see what's going to happen on the right - that should've been Benitez's priority, Kuyt or Pennant can't do it and Benayoun is only a maybe.

    They're getting better but they still don't have the strength of Man United and Chelsea

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  • 304. At 3:07pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    end2endgame - A fair number of reasons. The team choked around Christmas, for one. Look at Liverpool at the start of the season, or at the end, and you saw champions. Look at them playing Derby or Man City around Christmas and you saw a turgid wreck of a team. That wasn't player skill. It was something else.

    I also think the utterly ludicrous draw against Chelsea early in the season was more demoralizing than it should have been. I think, had Liverpool started the season with a win against one of the other Big Four instead of having the ref gift-wrap a draw you would have seen a mightier team.

    In the end, the issue is that Liverpool does not play like a team of champions. The whole remains less than the sum of its parts.

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  • 305. At 3:14pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    histon4europe - I don't see how Keane fits in with 4-2-3-1, which has always been my complaint about paying 20m for him. He obviously is part of the 3, but I don't think putting him on the wing is a sane use of him. Maybe if you push Gerrard out to the wing over Kuyt you could play him in the center, but it's not exactly a brilliant move.

    Keane is for 4-4-2. He's fine for 4-4-2. Great, even.

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  • 306. At 3:15pm on 15 Aug 2008, tarquin wrote:

    "end2endgame: If Gerrard is better than Lampard, and Torres better than Drogba then howcome they haven't won the league yet? nevermind the Champs lge here i'm talking about the Premiership."

    the wingers and full backs are better at Chelsea, there's also better strength in depth that is needed in a league. Hence Liverpool's successes in cups, you can also find some serious flaws in Rafa's league tactics, you can clearly see where Liverpool threw away points last year - rotating good players like Torres out for the CL, and again this brings in the depth question - very little quality on the bench

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  • 307. At 3:20pm on 15 Aug 2008, ericseyebrows wrote:

    Phil Sandifer- if you are going to quote facts make sure they are correct, last season United had the best defence and conceded the fewest goals whilst scoring the most goals. Not your beloved Liverpool. Maybe you got scouse tinted glasses on, but please stick to FACTS! Judging by your analysis of liverpools team and chelseas team, I would say only Gerrard ahead of Lampard and Torres would get into Chelseas squad. No other players including Mascherano or Babel or Keane would get into Chelseas team and that is from a non- Chelsea fan. Time to get real.

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  • 308. At 3:22pm on 15 Aug 2008, tarquin wrote:

    305 PhilSandifer - exactly! Keane will work great in a 2 pronged attack, but the question remains who gets the chop from the centre and what happens in that gaping hole on the right - I think Gerrard has already made his point that he's not going out right again

    it seems there's an imbalance, either you fit a good player in the wrong position or sacrifice the midfield to fit that player in properly

    ...Gerrard's going on the right...isn't he?

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  • 309. At 3:36pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    ericseyebrows2 - Now now, no fair painting me as having scouse-tinted glasses. I am a Yank who cares not for your Liverpool/Man U rivalry. I was in Wembley last weekend on the United side, and I root for both teams, thank you.

    That said, the correction on the stats was appreciated - I was managing to confuse Reina's golden glove award with fewest goals conceded.

    Regardless, I am hard-pressed to argue that Liverpool has even a hint of a problem in defense.

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  • 310. At 3:38pm on 15 Aug 2008, Acnemanprice wrote:

    Chelsea for the quadruple and the Scousers nowhere. You know I'm right. Even the die-hard Liverpool fans will be nodding. Keane, lets face it, is second rate. Not good enough for Inter Milan so how come we're even contemplating the fact that his addition to a nondescript Liverpool line-up will yield anything other than mediocrity. JT pointed out that Man U are on the wane, Arsenal are perennial re-builders so yes I suppose third place in the league, last 16 in the FA Cup and and early exit from the Champions league are realistic prospects for our once powerful friends from Merseyside.

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  • 311. At 3:42pm on 15 Aug 2008, Kapnag wrote:

    Ah, another article about how close/far Liverpool are to the title. Robbie Keane is not a signing that will take Liverpool to the final. Benitez doesn't appear to know where he's gonna play him, as he doesn't want 2 up front

    Why pay £20m for a late 20's striker and try converting him into a right winger?

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  • 312. At 3:45pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    histon4europe - I don't think Keane is starting XI in 4-2-3-1. Simple as that. Which will no doubt bring Benitez under a ton of criticism for not starting him enough, but that criticism will miss the point - the error won't be in not starting Keane in a formation that doesn't make room for him, it will be in paying that much for a player who doesn't fit into one of Liverpool's main formations.

    The one saving grace might be if Liverpool is looking to emulate Man U's standard strikerless formation, where instead of having an out and out striker out front they run a strong goalscoring middle (consisting of some combination of Scholes, Giggs, Anderson, Nani, and Ronaldo) and just put playmakers up front in Rooney and Tevez, allowing for flexibility and manuevering up front instead of dead-balling it. That approach was in some ways developed as a patch for the loss of RVN, but it's been so devastatingly effective that it seems to be becoming the norm.

    The problem is that Man U's strikerless formation depends on a flair from midfield that I'm not sure I see in Liverpool. It works for Man U because they have blisteringly fast, stylish wingers. Liverpool lacks that.

    But there may be a formation that works yet. If the width starts coming from the wingbacks then Benitez could conceivably play a midfield with Mascherano in a holding role, Kuyt playing a back-lying wing role that stops up and works one side, and Babel playing an attacking wing on the other. You get a lopsided formation that moves left as it attacks, but if Benitez can get the RWB forward a bit and use Mascherano well, an attack of some combination of Babel, Keane, Gerrard, Torres, and Alonso has much of the potency of the Man U strikerless attack.

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  • 313. At 3:46pm on 15 Aug 2008, Mosser80 wrote:

    Look, its simple. At the beginning of every August for the last 18 years, I've been championing Liverpool's claims for the coming season's title. There have been years when I knew we were a long way off, but I was simply caught up amidst all the hype that is part and parcel of every soccer fan's enthusiasm for the new season's kick-off. Over the last few seasons, and particularly this time last year, I genuinely believed that we had the quality to win the league. I was confident that Babel and Torres would provide the firepower that we so desperately craved, and would compliment our ever-reliable defence perfectly. But at the end of the day, the responsibility of our failings have to stop with one person only....Rafa Benitez. How many times has he completely reshuffled a team that had annihilated the opposition the week before? The lack of fluidity and consistency that all champions possess has continually been stifled by Benitez's insistence on 'keeping players fresh'. We lost valuable points last year against relatively meagre opponents because Rafa felt that the likes of Voronin, Bennayoun and Lucas can just magically replicate the abilities of Torres, Babel and Steven Gerrard. It just doesn't work in the English Premier League, and I think that it is Rafa's inability to admit his flaws in this regard that have kept Liverpool where they have been almost two decades now - we are the 'nearly-men' of the English game. I can see the merits of this system when we travel away in Europe and compete to a very high standard, but in the Premier League, Rafa needs to decide on his best XI and stick with it as rigidly as possible. Unfortunately, my opinion of the man is that he is an acutely stubborn man who takes little or no regard for the opinion of others (just ask Paco, who could no longer tolerate Benitez's close-mindedness). That is why we won't win the league this year. Or next year. Or the year after that. This has to be Rafa's last chance at winning the league.

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  • 314. At 3:53pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Mosser80 - Benitez's rotational impulses seem to me to have been better checked over last year. Endless fighting with the board does him good, I think. And I'm hard-pressed not to see him as a good thing for the club on the whole. Certainly we've seem dramatic improvement in the club since he took over.

    I'm sympathetic to the possibility that what is needed is new management, but that strikes me more as an issue of psychology than anything else. I think Liverpool believes they can win less than the fans do.

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  • 315. At 3:59pm on 15 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    Why are Liverpool fans trying to compare their players with those of Man U and Chelsea.

    The difference is not in qualitity of player, although squad wise Man U and Chelsea kill Liverpool in this department, the main diff is that SAF and Chelsea have had system of play for last few years.

    Does anyone really know what Rafa is going to play? Does he? Has he just spent 20 million on a player and actually have no idea what he wants to do with him? Has he spent his summer trying to sign another midfielder for somewhere between 12 and 18 million and not known for sure where he will play?

    Instead of collecting players he likes and then trying to find system that works with them how about this.

    Goal Keeper - Renia

    Central Midfield - Steven Gerrard

    Centre Forward - Fernando Torress

    Now find 8 other players that can play with these guys, in a system which helps the last 2!!

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  • 316. At 3:59pm on 15 Aug 2008, Nogonadstice wrote:

    Poppycock! Robbie Keane is the very player Liverpool have needed to end their 18 year wait for league glory. He is like one of those jewels Indiana Jones goes in search of in his films and I have no doubt that the Premier league title will be going back to the promised land this season, as well as (perhaps) a cup or two.

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  • 317. At 4:03pm on 15 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    Nogonadstice, you got finished work earlier today didn't you? You have been out since lunchtime having a few beers, haven't you?

    Otherwise how could anyone explain those irrational remarks

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  • 318. At 4:08pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    So_Cal_Dandie - Man U's system is, at most, two years old, having developed primarily to address the fact that losing Van Nistleroy meant that they had no actual striker. And even then, it's hard to say their 07-08 system was around in 06-07, given that they scrambled to patch a hole with Larsson for a few months. Even now, seeking Berbatov, I wonder what Man U is up to. I assume Berbatov is intended for use primarily when they want to rest out of the sheer strenuousness of their essentially strikerless system, but the fact of the matter is, Man U's system is in pretty active development.

    And I have trouble saying that a team that has gone through three managers in a year has any system at all.

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  • 319. At 4:16pm on 15 Aug 2008, torresandgerrard1 wrote:

    why not play
    Torres

    Keane

    Babel Gerrard


    Alonso Mascherano


    Aurelio Agger Carragher Finnan


    Reina
    Because gerrard could get don the right and put some decent consistent crossing (something pennant lacks) and he can drift in of the right and support keane and torres... any one agree??

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  • 320. At 4:22pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    torresandgerrard1 - I see a couple of problems. First, Gerrard dislikes the right. He'll play it when needed, but given that part of Liverpool's problem is psychological, the effect of regularly moving their captain to a position he doesn't prefer isn't going to be helpful.

    Second, you're really just proposing 4-2-3-1 with deeper-lying wingers. That's not going to open teams up effectively, and you'll find Torres stranded up front too often.

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  • 321. At 4:44pm on 15 Aug 2008, piggysbeeftrousers wrote:

    i'm a united fan, but bear with me:

    1. why would anyone swap Carragher for Skrtel or Agger when he's one of Liverpool's few genuine quality players? Talk of moving him to fullback is misguided too - he's an average rightback, who barely strays out of his own half, but a quality centre half. Just because you have 3 decent options doesn't mean you have to play them all at once - the idea of strength in depth is that you don't have to crowbar anyone in. What he needs is a partner who is decent on the ball - look how often united give away possession when Rio's not there and the onus is on Vidic to bring the ball out from the back, lofting half-hearted 50-50's forward because he's not the most confident with the ball at his feet. I think whatever the combination at the back, it seems sensible to start with Carragher and build from there because there aren't too many who are better.

    2. Gareth Barry is a decent player but not better than what they've already got. Talk of playing him fullback is strange - £18m seems a lot of money for a not particularly great fullback. Yes he's versatile but so is phil neville. I wouldn't be surprised if the only reason it's still dragging on is that Gerrard is so keen to get his great mate to the club.

    3. rafa's transfer policy would irritate the hell out of me. There's not massive amounts wrong with liverpool that a couple of decent signings wouldn't solve. If rafa had found the extra cash for Berbatov instead of Keane, i would be considerably more fearful of a scouse assault on the title. He seems to spend £4m or £5m here and there without ever really making any real steps forward. Look how much they improved when Torres arrived...if he'd just save the cash and splash out on one top top player a season, i can't see how it wouldn't be an improvement. Then if need be, fill the squad up with the youth we used to hear so much about.

    4. Babel looks decent, but why not use him as backup to Torres so when the latter's not available, a wholesale change in tactics isn't required? It wasnt long ago Arsenal were supposedly close to making him the new Henry - and from what i remember of the U21 World Cup or whatever he played in a couple of years ago, he didn't look a million miles away.

    apologies for any misspelling etc - have written this sneakily at work and havent read over it!

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  • 322. At 4:49pm on 15 Aug 2008, sloosher1 wrote:

    I always hope that we can win the league, but Liverpool still have a lot of dead wood at the club. For instance Kuyt, Pennant, Voronin, Finnan these players will not win you the league and the other clubs in the top four would not buy them. We have young lads who in my opinion should play, Darby at right back, Insua at Left back I think will be a real star of the future and nemeth and Pacheco. Instead of wasting money on average (Dossena) players use the youngsters who have won us youth and reserve league and cup competitions. As every year liverpool will be a force in the champions league and I really hope we can win the league, but I just cant see it happening.

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  • 323. At 4:55pm on 15 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    PhilSandifer, Man U did not just stmble upon their presetn system. Fergie choose to sell RVN and sign Tevez. He had hoped that Saha could do more nad give him option but he has been for last 3 /4 year heading toward a fluid system, and buys players to fit his vision.

    My problem is I think that Rafa pays no attention to Gerrard and what he has there. If he signed someone to play alongside / instead of Torres then that would be much better use of his cash. But he has signed someone to play the role Gerrard thrived in last season. No-one can say that is good planning.

    Robbie Keane is a very good player and will improve Liverpool' squad, but does he improve the first 11, and if not is signing him a wate of money?

    I personally think Bentley would have been much better buy, instantly improves first 11, 4 -5 million less expensive, 4-5 year younger. Also Downing would have been good optio too, adds much needed width on left.

    These 2 players into last season's squad, Kuyt to back up Torres wen needed, and would ahve seen Liverpool as outsiders, wth chance. Now I see them as outsiders needing lot of breaks to compete.

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  • 324. At 5:16pm on 15 Aug 2008, TaxiForMyself wrote:

    Man U and Chelski have better strength in depth but key players such as scholes and giggs are older and Ronaldo surely must have undermined team moral with his comments over the summer. Chelsea are a team of mercenaries and players like Lampard and Ballack are cash hungry and I see this as unbalancing team morale. Scolari is untested in the Prem and I fancy them more for the Champs League.
    I have made the mistake of underrating Arsenal and doubtless they will be in the shake up.
    Liverpool got 76 points last season despite losing key players like Agger for most of the season and having way too many draws. Our form against the top 3 was good and I can see us getting more points off them this season.
    Babel will be a key player this season. I feel he has an eye for goal. I estimate 15. I also think Kuyt will score around 15. Keane should weigh in with 20. If Alonso can have a better season than last season and get 10 plus goals then this will relieve pressure on Torres and Gerrard who between them should get 40 plus.
    This is 100 goals. Add to that a few from Agger, Masch, Ngog and things could get interesting.
    Rafas Liverpool teams always create chances and are capable of going on great runs. If we can stay within 3 points of the top of the table by November then I feel we will be in with a shout.

    I also cant wait to see more of Pacheco, Lucas and Nemeth. The last time a crop this talented came through was the Gerrard/Owen axis.

    We have the squad to play a variety of formations and we are definately capable of challenging for all the trophies on offer. Thats all you can ask for as a fan so I think we LFC fans should be optimistic.

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  • 325. At 5:24pm on 15 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    I will just add JohnDanvers to the list of red misted over optimistic Liverpool fans then!!

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  • 326. At 5:26pm on 15 Aug 2008, UPTHEMTFC wrote:

    We will finish 3rd this season because we still will not be consistent enough to challenge. We still need a top class winger, but I think Robbie will prove to be a good signing. The season after we will be winners for definite.

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  • 327. At 5:29pm on 15 Aug 2008, dudepod45 wrote:

    ...omg not the premiership again. all those overpaid, overpampered and overrated nancy boys rushing around feigning injuries, trying to get their oppos sent off and arguing with refs. thankfully the real athletes are about to get down to business...

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  • 328. At 5:36pm on 15 Aug 2008, TaxiForMyself wrote:

    Rafa overthrew the massive Barca/Real axis and he could well trump that and overthrow the Manu/Chelski domination. Its easy to be optimistic before the season starts!

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  • 329. At 5:39pm on 15 Aug 2008, LFC8LFC wrote:

    Sheesh all the negativity on here. Here's my views and im going to try to be as objective and non-biased as possible.

    I agree with Phil this is a big season for Rafael Benitez, to whom i have backed throughout his entire tenure. Since last season however, Liverpool have gone backwards from where they were during his first three seasons in charge.

    The comman mis-conception among many footy fans especially those supporting (man utd, everton, arsenal, villa etc) think Liverpool cling on to fourth place every year. Under Benitez this is just simply not true and have infact only finished fourth once during his four seasons. I was so excited about liverpool under benitez especially when we finished third two seasons ago just a point behind second place Manchester United.

    In closing i feel Liverpool may surprise a few people this season because they have a strong defence that will not conceed many goals. However, unfortunately we still do not have the attacking players that chelsea and man utd possess. So i feel a title bid may be on the cards but we will fall short unless we sign a quality winger in the mould of Ribery, Quaresma, Swiensteiger etc.

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  • 330. At 5:44pm on 15 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    JohnDanvers, optimistic is one thing but to predict 100 goals form a side that has not scored more than 67 in recent history is plainly over optimistic

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  • 331. At 5:46pm on 15 Aug 2008, thefisherman19 wrote:

    Liverpools main strength has always been down the middle, on the flanks their wingers have in recent years not been up to scratch with the rest of the team. Ryan Babel has not justified his questionable price tag yet, but he is young and still has time to adapt to the premiership before we can fully judge him. Yossi Benayoun has a tendency to cut inside a lot, leaving his full back vulnerable to a counter attack but was a good addition to the squad for the price they paid for him (£5m). The sheer fact that they had to play Dirk Kuyt out on the right flank during the Champions League last season shows that Benitez doesn't fully trust his wingers on the big European stage, and this is a situation that needs addressing very quickly.

    Benitez does seem a little obsessed with signing central midfielders though. £18m for Barry is higher than his true value, I have no idea why he would want to sell Xabi Alonso as he has a good range of passes and vision as well. Keane was a good signing but at £20m again he was a bit overpriced, some Liverpool fans may be getting a little carried away with his signature by proclaiming him "10 times better than Tevez" as I heard on a radio call-in.

    At some point soon I think that they are going to have to start looking into a replacement pair of centre backs as well, as Sami Hyypia is nearly 34 and looked a little off the pace last season in the league, and Jamie Carragher is now in his 30's also.

    Mr McNulty is right in saying that the money given to Benitez over the last few seasons should justify a stronger title challenge this time round, although I don't think they have the required strength in depth to challenge for all four trophies sucsessfully like Man Utd or Chelsea, they should be starting to knock on the door of those afformentioned clubs, and they should finish above Arsenal this year.

    From Ben Fisher, Age 16, A Chelsea Fan

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  • 332. At 6:01pm on 15 Aug 2008, katouzian wrote:

    the problem with Liverpool is the central diffence. So long as we have Carra in the middle of our defence in the big games we will never be able to go any further than the 4th place. This so called coach still believes he is the best defender in the world!!!! I don' see any problem with our middlefield and strikers (they are on the best in the world), but when it comes to defending, as we have done over and over in the past few years, we see how weak we are in that area

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  • 333. At 6:01pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    So_Cal_Dandie - Your chronology is pretty misleading there. Ferguson sold RVN after a bust-up that ended with RVN demanding to leave, and got Tevez a full year later. I don't see the pre-meditation there.

    I agree that a winger would have made a lot of sense, but I can see viable tactics that don't rely on a winger as well.

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  • 334. At 6:22pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    thefisherman19 - I agree that Liverpool is a very center-based team, but I'm not sure that's a problem the way they're building the team.

    I don't see the problem with Kuyt you do. I think he was very effective on the wing - he has decent pace, but more to the point, he's an ardent workhorse. I think he stops up the right wing nicely, and if he can be played forward by a better right back, I think he's a very good player. It makes the right less potent as a place to attack, and he has the accuracy in passing to provide service as needed.

    If they can use a right back to push forward and situate Macherano to hold the center then they have a potent right to center midfield - it won't be an easy place to take the ball in for the opposing team, and it'll be effective in getting it out. This is similar to what Man U does when they play Hargreaves on the wing.

    Then on the left and forward you have Gerrard in the center, Babel on the left, and Keane and Torres both up front. That's four players who can score goals, all of them fluid, dynamic players. None of them need to be outright strikers - the appeal of them is that they're all deadly. It's the Man U approach - instead of using a sharpshooter like Van Nistleroy they run Ronaldo, Giggs, Scholes, Rooney, Tevez, Anderson, and/or Nani in a more fluid arrangement that pushes in hard. Man U's weakness comes when their attacking options can't quite finish. It's what they need Ronaldo for - the rest of the set are good, but just don't have the deadly finishing that Ronaldo has. But putting Torres and Gerrard in that form works, to my mind, well, as both can finish strongly.

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  • 335. At 6:45pm on 15 Aug 2008, So_Cal_Dandie wrote:

    PhilSandifer, SAF did not sell RYN as a result of a disagreement he sold him coz he felt he was past his best.

    SAF already dropped Rudd a numebr of months prior to sale, and as I said his intention was to play Saha more often.

    SAF has been moving towards current system since he dropped Rudd and before. Rooney played wide left and ronaldo wide right with Rudd in middle, but he was dropped coz of his lack of movement.

    Saha unable to stay fit, so Tevez bought with idea of Rooney playing more advanced role, but Saha retained to allow option of more target based centre forward.

    Saha has never filled job hence why Berbatov chased for year.

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  • 336. At 7:00pm on 15 Aug 2008, malster58 wrote:

    the one thing that liverpool must do is to stop believing all the garbage written by the politically correct english press who continually place them in the 'big four' catagory. yes, they probably ARE the 4th best team in the league, but the newspapers go on about them as if it's a four horse race - it's not. the title will be won by united or chelsea with arsenal running them close. every august we hear that 'this year is liverpool's year', and by october it's plain yet again that a good run in europe is all that they can hope for. the same happened for united (without the good runs in europe) 20 years ago. they were going nowhere until fergie came, and even then we had to wait 4 years for silverware. the same cannot be said for benitez though - he seems to be going two steps forward and three back. he tries - with little success - to emulate united, chelsea and arsenal by using the rotation system, the fact that he has no idea in that particular area of the game is plain for all to see, and why the kop gives him so much support (to their credit) really does surprise me. looks like another good run in europe is again all they have to look forward to - if they can beat liege, which judging by wednesday's performance is not definite by any means...

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  • 337. At 7:03pm on 15 Aug 2008, TaxiForMyself wrote:

    I was predicting that from all competitions. For the Premier it would be
    Torres 20
    Keane 15
    Gerrard 14
    Babel 8
    Kuyt 8
    Alonso 6
    Benayoun 3
    Lucas 3
    Agger 3
    Voronin 1
    Ngog 1
    Masch 1
    Aurelio 1
    Carra 0

    Total= 84

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  • 338. At 7:03pm on 15 Aug 2008, Champions. wrote:

    Liverpool won't finish 3rd this season, end of. I have a feeling that they will be closely challenged for 4th place by spurs and should be good enough to hold them off.

    But people are failing to remember that the eduardo injury ruined arsenal's morale last season. They were top of the league when this happened and there is certainly no way to pick up players after an incident like this and the team went on a streak of only getting draws, didnt they?

    I know arsenal have sold players, but bringing in "the new zidane" will be a good signing and people forget that arsenal have a very young team and players like walcott, nasri and fabregas will definately improve over the season, i bet!

    I'm a neutral supporter, so i dont favour any team - so dont slate me for my views

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  • 339. At 7:08pm on 15 Aug 2008, don6212 wrote:

    Most of these posts have been negitive and lack any confidence,and the team are playing in the same manner.Robbie Keane runs around pointing the ball away,he does the same for Ireland it shows a lack of confidence.Too many of our players can;t tackle and Gerrard apart the midfield can;t score.At the back - set pieces are the sure way to score against us as Fergie and Man u have shown,they have scored from corners and free kicks in every game against us in the last six or seven years.
    We are going to need a lot of old istanbul style luck to win the league and hope others go backwards,We want to be beating the top three at there best and I just can;t see that happening.....

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  • 340. At 7:20pm on 15 Aug 2008, The Professor wrote:

    McNulty's right - Bellamy isn't anywhere near as good as Keane. Although, he is missing the point by dismissing it outright - the reason people are making this comparison is similarity - pace, height, strength, centre of gravity. Keane is a much better version of Bellamy. I think the logic behind the comparison is that if they got rid of Bellamy, why spend so much on a better version?

    Of course, McNulty has given the Irishman the kiss of death by singing his praises. The Beeb's chief football writer has a horrendous track record for handing ridiculous platitudes to players with average to poor track records. Give you an example:- the last time I heard him blather on about a striker as 'outstanding' with a 'proven track record' it was....you guessed it...Anelka.

    Well, hasn't he set the world alight for Chelski?

    I think Mr. McNulty really needs to curb his enthusiasm when it comes to superlatives. Keane's a solid player who'll net a few goals given the chance.

    But then, surely Crouch could've been that man?

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  • 341. At 7:32pm on 15 Aug 2008, Nvrwalkedalone: For 6 minutes 37 seconds, Even I look like a legend on Youtube© wrote:

    Phil Mcnumpty.

    Keane cost £18m with add ons.
    Degan was injured in the euros.

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  • 342. At 8:46pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    JohnDanvers - Alonso, who has averaged 3 goals a season in the prem for the last four years, is going to double that? Mascherano has three career goals. Ngog has one. Agger has had one goal a season for Liverpool, but is going to pull three? Leiva hasn't scored since 2006. You have Gerrard pulling a career best with 14 goals in a season, Kuyt improving by five goals over last season... you may as well put Reina down for a goal with those numbers.

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  • 343. At 9:21pm on 15 Aug 2008, AlexSteed-O wrote:

    I agree that we might not be title favourites but we do have a good chance with such great expirienced players, reina who has performed well since we have signed him, carragher and agger are defenatlley prooving to become ultimate companions at the back, and gerrard who everyone knows is a consistant performer giving us the strength in the middle that only a few CM's can provide, And finally with torres upfront has brought goals back to the team which we lost when since cisse departed from the team. The signing of keane i feel is a good descision, although kuyt is a good striker he isnt the type that torres can feed off and i think thats where keane can come in, with his qucik feet and thinking (that we all saw last season) he prooves deadly anywere on the pitch!!.
    Steedy x

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  • 344. At 9:30pm on 15 Aug 2008, younighted wrote:

    i agree wholeheartedly with phil.

    Liverpool are a good team. they proved that in 2005 when they lifted the champions league for the 5th time. and many fans thought that this was the boost they needed to get back to the best. but in all honesty, has anyone seen a real improvement?

    Since that memorable night in athens, liverpool have won nothing. a champions league runners up medal a side, this a team who are probably aiming for things that are out of their reach. title contenders, no. but a team definately a mile ahead of their closest rivals (Everton, spurs, villa etc)

    The problem i see with the reds is that they only buy replacements, and never real improve on the quality of the squad as a whole. this summer is a perfect example. Keane, although in my opinion a season or two past his best, is only a replacement for peter crouch, possibly one of englands top strikers? and i know gareth barry is a classy midfielder, at the peak of his career. but again, instead of adding him to a quality squad, they were prepared for xabi alonso, a european championship winner let us not forget!, to move aside. this is not building a squad. and someone tell me why riise was sold? rafa bought two remotely average players to replace possibly the most consistant player for the club in the last few years? it just seems crazy to me!

    Then you look at united for example. Despite having argueablly the best attack in the league, if not europe (Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Nani, Anderson, Giggs need i go on?) they still are out looking to boost the squad. Im not entirely convinced with berbatov, but at least its a nother option. Thats what you need if your going to have a great team, that wins things. even chelsea have that, although i feel they will fall away this season.

    So, especially after wedneasdays performance, i dont believe its a season to look forward to for the reds. no question that theyll be top 4 again, as i dont see any bvast improvemnts from contenters, but titl contenders? no chance.

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  • 345. At 9:43pm on 15 Aug 2008, malster58 wrote:

    Since that memorable night in athens, liverpool have won nothing. a champions league runners up medal a side, this a team who are probably aiming for things that are out of their reach. title contenders, no. but a team definately a mile ahead of their closest rivals (Everton, spurs, villa etc)


    ______________________________________________________________________

    ????? u won the fa cup in 2006!!!

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  • 346. At 9:49pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    keanoheismagic - That's fine, but Athens was in 2007.

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  • 347. At 9:52pm on 15 Aug 2008, malster58 wrote:

    sorry mate - thought he was referring to 2005 - my mistake!! cheers

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  • 348. At 9:53pm on 15 Aug 2008, younighted wrote:

    typo - meant 2007. but still, not trophy, or any sniff of one either

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  • 349. At 9:53pm on 15 Aug 2008, malster58 wrote:

    looking at the post again, i think he might have been!!!

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  • 350. At 9:54pm on 15 Aug 2008, malster58 wrote:

    huh? now i AM confused!!!

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  • 351. At 9:58pm on 15 Aug 2008, younighted wrote:

    hahah. the point i was trying to make, regardless of stats, is that despite the promise that winning the CL brought, no real improvemnet has been made in terms of the league.

    I for one, a united fan, thought it would trigger a real surge, but it hasnt. and i dont believe this upcoming season will bring anything different.

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  • 352. At 10:03pm on 15 Aug 2008, malster58 wrote:

    couldn't agree more mate. the CL victory has masked a lot of benitez's cock-ups. although it was a great night for them, in the long run it's been a burden for them in the sense that they've not been able to match it in the prem - nowhere near.

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  • 353. At 10:11pm on 15 Aug 2008, younighted wrote:

    and as for this year, the champions league will be the hardest to win for years. i believe united have a great chance of winning it again, however the barcas and milans are also well in it, just as chelsea, who can never be underestimated, will be in the mix too. i firmly believe that whoever wins it this year will be the best team of the century so far. and as for liverpool, who may well find themselves not even qualifying!, i just think its one step too far.

    Maybe a FA or Carling cup win, but nothing to move the critics. another trophiless season althogether on the otherhand, and i think by this time next year, Benitez may be walking the tightrope, and the kop might just push him off.

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  • 354. At 10:24pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    If there's really a push to eliminate a manager who consistently finishes in the top four, has won the CL, made another CL final, a CL semi-final, an FA cup win, and a Carling Cup final then I will truly have seen it all.

    In competitions where there are teams of the quality of Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool, or, worse, of Milan, Juventus, Barca, Real, Munich, and the 4 English teams as well, the fact of the matter is, you can't be firing managers for one or even two losing seasons.

    Firing Benitez would be appalling. I don't understand how that mentality works. When you have four clubs of the quality of Arsenal, Man U, Liverpool, and Chelsea, only one can win the Prem in a given year. The fact of the matter is, three big, great clubs are going to lose every year. That's not grounds for the sack.

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  • 355. At 10:35pm on 15 Aug 2008, younighted wrote:

    have you been to liverpool?

    high standards is an understatement.

    Plus stranger things have happened. Steve McClaren england boss? A club owner in exile? and whoever told Paul ince he was worthy of managing a premier league team. I just feel that the kop (wrongly all be it) expect more from their team, and a poor season, even by their standards, may lead to people pointing finger, and as we always seem to see in football, its normally the innocent man, who gets the blame.

    Benitez is a super manager, but i believe that liverpool fans still believe that they can replicate the form of the eighties, when in reality, times have changed, and no longer are liverpool premier league beaters, let alone world beaters.

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  • 356. At 10:50pm on 15 Aug 2008, bigli wrote:

    It's so nice to see that all the football writers, pundits and experts were bang on the money when, to a man, they said that under no circumstances would Benitez be Liverpool manager at the start of the new season, quite remarkable.
    Even more remarkable is the fact that he was replaced by someone that is the spitting image of him AND has exactly the same name and we didn't even notice it happen.
    some people might even be cheeky enough to say that he didn't get the sack at all, but he must of cos Martin Samuells and the Custis brothers said he would, and they're never wrong are they

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  • 357. At 11:08pm on 15 Aug 2008, Will wrote:

    If i was Liverpool boss i would they should play to their strengths which is down the middle. Their widemen are poor and in masch alonso and gerrard they have a strong midfield. They should have tried out a diamond with gerrard at the front and maybe lucas thrown in there and then play 2 up top in keane and torres.

    We always hear this talk of balance but Spain did not play with balance and lok what they achieved? 4-4-2 seems to have gone out the window and i suspect Benetiz will bottle it and play a chelsea style 4-3-3/4-5-1 with keane and kuyt shoved out to the wings, but shold he have the guts he shold paly keane and torres up top coz if they are goign to challenge for the title they must take risks and play 2 fully up front may be the way forward

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  • 358. At 11:15pm on 15 Aug 2008, jack_to_win wrote:

    Lots Of Commenst On This One But, From What I've Read It Seams No Believes Liverpool Have World Class Players, Well How Many World Class Players Do Arsenal Have?
    Mmm.. Having To Think Now Aren't We?

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  • 359. At 11:19pm on 15 Aug 2008, younighted wrote:

    fabregas.
    theres yr answer Jack_to_win.
    Some might say adeboyer, but i have my doubts, as probably do most arsenal fans after his overwhelming loyalty this summer.

    Team of the future no doubt.

    But the 'big 4' in english football is quickly turning into the big 2, and arsenal and liverpool.

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  • 360. At 11:20pm on 15 Aug 2008, malster58 wrote:

    Lots Of Commenst On This One But, From What I've Read It Seams No Believes Liverpool Have World Class Players, Well How Many World Class Players Do Arsenal Have?
    Mmm.. Having To Think Now Aren't We?


    ___________________________________

    you're missing the point mate - it's what you do with the players at your disposal as much as anything else. wenger is by far a better man-manager and tactician than benitez...

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  • 361. At 11:21pm on 15 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    jack_to_win - I hate Arsenal, but:

    Adebayor
    Fabregas
    Eduardo
    Van Persie

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  • 362. At 11:28pm on 15 Aug 2008, superadders wrote:

    As a true liverpool i totally AGREE with this well written article. for me, they lack quality in the wide positions. do we have any top class full backs? not one. any top class wingers? again not one. theres no way we will win the prem with the squad we have. ok, we have gerrard, torres, carragher, keane, mascherano, alonso all world class players, but our squad is not as strong as man uniteds. we mite finish third, but we dont want third.

    benitez needs to buy a top class winger and a top class full back and then i think have a more realistic chance of winnin the league.

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  • 363. At 11:56pm on 15 Aug 2008, galoglas wrote:

    Phil may be right, but he oviously hasn't heard the latest cutting edge strategy that the Reds will employ this year. The Rotational Policy! Wait wait---hang on. You see, this year Liverpool will rotate their managers! Yes, rafa doesn't know this yet, won't be operational until mid-September, but every two weeks a different gaffer. That's why the other 18 million was not spent. this will keep the players fresh from the same old same old and of course fuel many Mourinho to Merseyside rumors. OK ok it was a dream I had after too many pints, but after EIGHTEEN YEARS.......

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  • 364. At 00:12am on 16 Aug 2008, Gerrard_8LFC wrote:

    Lots Of Commenst On This One But, From What I've Read It Seams No Believes Liverpool Have World Class Players, Well How Many World Class Players Do Arsenal Have?
    Mmm.. Having To Think Now Aren't We?


    ___________________________________

    you're missing the point mate - it's what you do with the players at your disposal as much as anything else. wenger is by far a better man-manager and tactician than benitez...

    ______________________________

    .....yes because Wenger has had 2 Champs League Finals and a semi in the last 4 years where tactics is absolutely key.

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  • 365. At 00:15am on 16 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    I'm not even sure how to begin comparing Man U to Liverpool. Man U is of late using a formation that it's hard to even describe, and that is unique to them. Essentially the formation seems to be 4-1-5-0 or 4-2-4-0 - no outright strikers, and an extensive attacking midfield that includes playmaking strikers and goal-scoring midfielders. I can't readily compare them position by position to any other club because they don't even play that way.

    That said, I think for the most part the teams are pretty well-matched. Man U's defense is a bit better. Torres and Ronaldo seem to me fairly well matched. Gerrard is stronger than any CAM that Man U has, and Mascherano is a better CDM than Hargreaves or Carrick. Babel is as good as Giggs these days. Rooney and Tevez are better than Keane.

    So while Man U is, on paper, a bit of a stronger squad, it's such a hard comparison to make, because the players don't really match up one to one.

    But if you tried to put Man U up, man for man, against Chelsea, you'd end up with a misleading comparison, simply because Man U doesn't use the traditional CAM/Striker pair that Chelsea still does, so if you try to compare Chelsea's players to Man U players who don't play the same role, making Chelsea look stronger. This doesn't play out in practice, though.

    My point being, a lot depends on what Liverpool's formation is going to be. I think there is a very, very strong formation that uses the players they have, and that could play strongly against any team in the world.

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  • 366. At 00:18am on 16 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Gerrard_8LFC - I think it's fair to say that Wegner gets a whole lot out of players who aren't as good as Liverpool's. Liverpool's players are better to begin with, but Wegner's success with comparatively weak players is quite impressive.

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  • 367. At 00:31am on 16 Aug 2008, malster58 wrote:

    That said, I think for the most part the teams are pretty well-matched. Man U's defense is a bit better. Torres and Ronaldo seem to me fairly well matched. Gerrard is stronger than any CAM that Man U has, and Mascherano is a better CDM than Hargreaves or Carrick. Babel is as good as Giggs these days. Rooney and Tevez are better than Keane.


    __________________________________

    u seem pretty clued up mate and i'm not in the business of slagging l'pool off just for the sake of it - but c'mon bud - Mascherano is a better CDM than Hargreaves or Carrick???? Mascherano is a yard dog - no more - no less and how you could have paid so much for him is beyond me!

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  • 368. At 01:08am on 16 Aug 2008, younighted wrote:

    agree with above.
    Michael Carrick was probably one of the most consistant central midfielders in the premiership last season. Mascherano just looks like a kick off with a good rate. i mean, just look at the game at old trafford last season. his sending off changed the whole complexion of the game.

    And to the point above. Torres and Ronaldo are matched? how many times have you seen fernando torres run rings around a whole defense, fly in the back post and thump in a header, or blast a free kick top corner from 35 yards out?

    If united stay injury free, the trophies theirs.

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  • 369. At 01:25am on 16 Aug 2008, pineapple wrote:


    .....yes because Wenger has had 2 Champs League Finals and a semi in the last 4 years where tactics is absolutely key.

    -----------------

    he's had 1 final...

    Anyway i think Chelsea will have a bit of a transitional period this season which i think may hamper their title challenge. I still think Liverpool are a couple of top quality players short. Arsenal - well its hard to predict what kind of season they will have after last season.
    Roll on third title in a row.

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  • 370. At 01:56am on 16 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    I've nothing but respect for Hargreaves and Carrick, but I still rate Mascherano as the best CDM in the world right now.

    As for Torres vs. Ronaldo, I've seen Torres work his way around a sea of defenders plenty of times. Have you been watching many Liverpool games?

    As I said, though, comparisons are really hard here. They're very, very different systems.

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  • 371. At 02:04am on 16 Aug 2008, SHSCOTT wrote:

    It is clear, politics or no politics, that with Man U and Chelsea signing great players no matter what the cost (Carrick for £16 million for example or Hargreaves £17 million?) that you need to spend to win.

    All the tactics in the world won't win the premier league. Don't get me wrong, Benitez is the best manager we have had for a long long time (if not ever) but I am not surprised his magic has become jaded with the constant pressure exerted from infighting and lack of backing for signings.

    If we had signed Barry we would have had a good tilt at the title this year. Without him, we are once again facing an uphill battle. Yes £18 million is a lot, but if we value him at £14 million would that matter if the title was ours? We are not talking about punting on unknown players. Barry is a proven quantity, and with an acrimonious sale would have had a point to prove.

    I remember when we signed Barnes and Beardsley and you just knew that we would win the title. It felt the same with Barry and Keane. Unfortunately, we only have one of them.

    That is no slight on Keanes signing.

    Benitez, may pull it off, but it won't be from the pieces of the jigsaw fitting, it will be from managerial excellence, which is something he has already proven to excess with his many cup tie wins over greater opposition.

    If Barry wasn't worth the money, why would O' Neill try and fight so much for him? O' Neill knows his worth, he is the linchpin of his team, surely he must be worth the extra couple of million?

    I know in todays game money is ridiculous, but if you aren't going to go the extra mile, then don't expect to win the title.

    I love Liverpool, and Benitez, and I don't buy into the fact that he has had X amount of money and he hasn't produced.

    When Man U and Chelsea have seemingly unlimited spends he is always on the back foot.

    Back him up with Barry and see what happens?

    Good luck Liverpool, I love you

    Scotty.






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  • 372. At 02:10am on 16 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    I assume that the failure to buy Barry means there's another target. Liverpool was clearly willing to pay 16-18m for a player, if not Barry. I would not be surprised to see another big buy come out before the end of the month. I'd assume, since we don't seem to be offloading Alonso, that the most likely target would be a winger, possibly using Pennant or Voronin to raise funds. But we'll see.

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  • 373. At 06:32am on 16 Aug 2008, gerrardsdedard wrote:

    Well said Scotty. Barry would indeed have taken us much closer to the title. He was not wanted to play left back or left wing, though could do both with ease if needed, but as a left sided partner for Masher. His inclusion would have balanced the whole team, made us rock solid defensively and freed up Gerrard, Torres, Keane and Babel to play a fluid interchanging system up front.
    The reference to Barnes and Beardsley / Keane and Barry was spot on. We have until the end of the month to sign him, even if he is cup-tied until Feb.
    Come on you reds!!!!

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  • 374. At 06:37am on 16 Aug 2008, wilso8571 wrote:

    I actually agree pretty whole hearted with your take on the coming season.

    1 negative i would initially look at (which may take time i understand) is the quality of the new left back who looks far from assured to date during the pre-season. I say this because that 7 or so million could have gone towards a potential Barry deal who can if required play left back. I personally would put faith in Insua who has been a star when entrusted in 1st team games over the last 2 seasons and who looks destined for international selection.

    I would also add that if Rafa doesn't rate these young talents, we may be wasting valuable money bringing them in and trying to develop them, given that we have done it approximately 8 times per season for the last 3 seasons (normally at 0.5-1 million a pop). We may as well rely on the young home growns if they never play.

    Rafa has already pushed Keane out wide in some games which is a real concern, given his comments on the unveiling of Robbie (that he can play 3 positions). He can't and won't help us by trying to do that. He is a 2nd striker who is wiley and creates play for himself and others. I do agree that his price tag is inflated but essentially, that is the going rat if you want the best players.

    That said, if Rafa gets the middle of the season to match how we started and ended last season, then we could be better than what we think, with regards to placing. It is consistency which is the issue and i think that would be solved by the players being played in their best position, for the majority of the premier league games.

    A final comment would be to say that putting a price tag on Kuyt of 16 million is ludicrous and shows an issue that seems to be our problem. Kuyt has workrate in abundance but not the premier league winners ability to play as a wide man (or centre forward in that breath). I'm no Pennant fan but if he had a run in the team he would eventually out produce having a hard worker in the team.

    All that said, come on you redmen, please end the drought. I hope I am very wrong come what May and we are celebrating a title.

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  • 375. At 11:21am on 16 Aug 2008, Torres' right peg wrote:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/7564848.stm

    I hope Berbatov doesn't suffer...

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  • 376. At 11:36am on 16 Aug 2008, GraymeadYNWA wrote:

    I dont think you are giving Ryan Babel enough credit as a wide man Phil. I think he's got the pace and strength to threaten defences when cutting inside. The prime example of this was that classic Arsenal game last season, the way he cut in and ran at Kolo Toure was nothing short of excellent and forced te penalty that won the game, and lets not forget he scored after that aswell. He is clearly not affected by pressure and I truely think he will be one of the suprises of the Premier League this season.

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  • 377. At 11:41am on 16 Aug 2008, dribbles_ wrote:

    Yes it is time again to put aside my objections to the utter shallowness of many of the actors and characters performing in the play - forget the futility of investing so much passion in a bunch of people I don't know kicking a ball around and remember that in life there is no pure art but also nothing worse than people who think there is as they snob down on one of the greatest examples of the human capability for producing things which are surely greater than the sum of their parts - the working class ballet returns - It's good to see you old friend!!!!!!

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  • 378. At 11:55am on 16 Aug 2008, Gerrard_8LFC wrote:

    I think that Liverpool are more than capable of making a sustained challenge for the Premier League. Last season we showed that we had the potential, but too many draws in games we should have killed off ended our chances.

    At £20m Keane is fairly expensive, but when you consider what price we have paid for the relative failures of Diouf and Cisse, [£10m and £14.5m] then we cant be too unhappy that for this price we have bought someone who is a proven goalscorer in the Premier League and will not need much time to settle in.

    As for the problems of the wings it is clear that Benitez does not have the funds available to buy a top quality winger like Silva, hence the reason he has signed Degen and Dossena who he believes are very good going forward.

    There has been alot of talk about Pennant not being good enough, whist i don't think he is amazing i think he should be given an extended run in the first team to show what he can do. If he doesn't do much then maybe show him the door at Christmas. But as someone has mentioned earlier, Pennant was one of our best players in the 07 CL Final.

    Alot really depends on what formation Rafa wants to play. He favoured the 4-5-1 alot last season with Kuyt on the right and Gerrard in the centre behind Torres. Against Leige he seemed to be playing a similar way with Kuyt still out on the right but having Keane off Torres. It will be interesting to see how we line up against Sunderland today.

    I think Babel has alot of potential, and hopefully he can build on last season and make the left hand side his own.

    ..all this still really leaves us needing a winger!

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  • 379. At 12:16pm on 16 Aug 2008, NW-Paww wrote:

    Unfortantly, as much as I'd like to Liverpool challenge in the Premiership it wont happen this season.

    Rafa won't stop buying Strikers and trying to play them out of position.

    Babel/Kuyt/Vornin are all strikers by nature.

    And now they've added Keane as their new 'winger' whos actually a striker.

    Stop playing people out of position Rafa!

    Keane needs to play the 'hole' which is Gerrard's best position. If Gerrard was injured alot then fine cover there is nice. But Gerrard is solid and probably won't miss much of the season.

    Buy some wingers and Liverpool would stand a chance of challenging. They on paper probably still wouldn't be as strong as Chelsea and Man Utd in every position but being to interchange between Torres/Keane/Babel up front with some proper wingers would be deadly.

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  • 380. At 12:23pm on 16 Aug 2008, dribbles_ wrote:

    What would Pool supporters think of putting in a late bid for Damien Duff?? He has been a bit injury plagued in recent times but appears to be 100% again. When he is injury free he is a class winger.......

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  • 381. At 2:26pm on 16 Aug 2008, global_citizen wrote:

    for the record - Keane is an important signing for 2 reasons:

    1 = against lower order teams we lacked firepower. title challenge last yr didn't happen because of home draws. Torres and Gerrard cannot do everything!

    2 = with the formation Benitez is playing there was no person in the squad who could perform the same function as Gerrard.

    My guess is we alternate between a 4-3-1-2 and a 4-4-1-1 depending on who we are playing.

    Hence why Benitez wanted Barry so much - as in a 4-3-1-2 Barry would have been the ideal left central midfielder.

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  • 382. At 8:11pm on 16 Aug 2008, PhilSandifer wrote:

    Well, now that we've seen the first game, I've mixed feelings. It's tough to judge when Babel and Mascherano are off in Beijing, but Kuyt certainly justified himself on the right today. Keane gave every appearance of being a dog, but there was definitely the kernel of something that could be a team of champions in today's game.

    That said, there's a lot of work to be done, and I don't see how it can be done in time for this season.

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  • 383. At 8:33pm on 16 Aug 2008, Red_Nic wrote:

    Once more Rafa has neglected the wide positions, attempting bring in two players who were simply not needed at the start of pre-season.

    He has got Keane, but we should be playing the 4-5-1 that served so well last season, rather than trying to accomadate Keane.

    Crouch wanted to leave but Kuyt is still a decent finisher and Babel is a striker, NOT a winger.

    We could have had a 4-5-1 with Torres, Babel, Kuyt and Ngog as strikers, which is good enough.

    Babel could have stayed out wide when not needed up front, then with the money two quality wide players could have been brought in.

    We simply lacked any innovation or creativity against both Liege and Sunderland.

    Never really looked threatening and played far too narrow, right into Sunderland's hands for much of the game.

    Rafa admitted himself the Barry holdup isn't due to lacking necessary funds, so pull the finger out and snap up at least one quality wide player before the end of the window.

    He's had plenty enough money over the years, so he has to start delivering, or I for one will begin to question where we are actually going under his guidance.

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  • 384. At 00:12am on 17 Aug 2008, AWNYWA wrote:

    Hi PM,

    We don't have the tallest strike force so why, for the first half hour, did we constantly hoof the ball upfield? Dossena had a lot of the ball during that time until the other 10 players sussed him out. YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO PASS TO YOUR TEAM MATES (Doh!). With no width in midfield, didn't see too much overlapping by our 'overlapping' full backs.

    Two games running, Alonso is our best player. Once he came on we became far more coherent, at last.

    Regarding Robbie and el Niño - patience please. It will happen. Meanwhile, can't wait for Babel and Masch to come back.

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  • 385. At 01:04am on 17 Aug 2008, Footymunki wrote:

    I agree with Phil. The most neutral outcome following Liverpools previous seaons in the Premiership and ther aquisitions during the summer.

    To win the title hmmmmm....
    Yes sign Barry and keep Alonso...and start playing Babel every game.

    A chance has to be taken on Babel playing 45+ games a season and even if he is average Liverpool will still finish 3rd or 4th and do well in a cup competition. He will give the team width, speed and will scare defences, not to mention hitting teams on the break.

    Then there's the Gerrard / Keane conundrum, simple play them both and go for it! Keane can defend so there is no reason why they both can't play an attacking link role and rotate defence responsibility.

    Ok third at best, but if we look at last season, it all boils down to the 6 pointers against the other top 3 teams, home wins against them and they are right in it.
    Keane can do it this time.....and
    with Barry and Alonso in the squad.....and Babbel full of confidence they would have a great chance.

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  • 386. At 07:49am on 17 Aug 2008, cadbury33 wrote:

    Benitez should sign Villa and partner with Torres to have a real chance to win the title.

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  • 387. At 10:34am on 17 Aug 2008, Dudes R Us wrote:

    I've certainly never thought we'd win the title this year. Rafa's got 2 years left on his contract to do it. This team is closer but not there yet, and with a bunch of players to settle in it could take 2 years, if Rafa can stand it that long.

    Everybody's already got Chelsea down for 1 or 2 when they've got a manager with no real big league CV and only a World Cup win with Brazil (which Grannie McNulty could do) to his credit, but he lost the Euros to Greece! I can't see how he'll survive Abramovich's ridiculous expectations. Grant did better than any sane person could've expected and was sacked on the strength of Terry's inability to resist gravity. Bye, Phil. Chelsea to implode this season.

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  • 388. At 00:12am on 18 Aug 2008, california4gerrard wrote:

    doctor steven gerrard is the best player getting the ball to torres...this combo should be sure to make a vivid run for the title this season! I love Steven Gerrard on Liverpool football team we even share the same birthday!! go REDS

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  • 389. At 2:15pm on 18 Aug 2008, low_lie_the_fields wrote:

    buying torres was genius. babel good.

    else benitez has disappointed in transfers.

    lots of average players - kuyt, benayoun, pennant, alonso, voronin (worth @ 35m) and nowhere close to premiership winning quality.

    less quantity, more quality benitez.

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  • 390. At 02:01am on 21 Aug 2008, conrad_logan wrote:

    i think liverpool can win the league if they bring in some1 like downing or joe cole.



    reina
    agger carragher skrtel
    babel gerrard lucas alonso mascherano
    keane
    torres

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  • 391. At 9:29pm on 21 Aug 2008, elmothered wrote:

    In my opinion Robbie Keane was a good signing, he will bring experience and is a good finisher, But as a liverpool fan i think he was way overpriced, £20m??? should have paid £10m max. I also think we should be buying quaility wide players, gerrard should keep his position instead of being moved to 'accomadate' keane, gerrard is the better player. Quaresema would have been nice!

    Dossena was shocking against Liege, but it was his first game so we will see if he improves. Babel down the Left is good, he's quick and has a good touch but we need proper left-sided players. Kuyt is a workaholic and deserves his place, he makes space and chance but needs to improve his control and awareness,

    I don't honestly believe Liverpool will win the Premier League, 3rd possibly, 2nd very optimistic, hopefully we will challenge for the Champions league, and not lose to Barnsley in the FA
    I'm with Rafa its the managers choice who he buys, the Americans should stop argueing and concerntrate on the football!

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  • 392. At 5:08pm on 23 Aug 2008, Arcticharrier wrote:

    Are you watching Man U - Liverpool top of the table and likely to stay there

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