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Liverpool on road to glory

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Phil McNulty | 07:45 UK time, Sunday, 10 May 2009

Liverpool's fans cornered a small plot inside Upton Park and announced they were going to win the league - it sounded like a medium term forecast as opposed to an expectation of imminent success.

Manchester United have it in their power to equal Liverpool's 18 titles inside the next fortnight unless the small repetitions of pressure applied by Rafael Benitez's maturing team add up to an unlikely Old Trafford collapse.

It was, however, easy to see why optimism rolled off the visitors' section in the form of song as Liverpool made light of a potentially hazardous fixture and turned it into a routine victory.

The words may read like sacrilege when set against Anfield's old bootroom philosophies, but if Liverpool do finish second, and that is still an if, then they can take huge pride and satisfaction from this season.

Liverpool's pursuit of Manchester United has been transformed from dogged to thrilling from the moment they won 4-1 at Old Trafford on 14 March.

And there was never a time when they looked like driving off down Green Street with anything less than three points once Steven Gerrard gave them a second minute lead.

Benitez was every inch the man who was on to something good as he sat relaxed and smiling at Upton Park after the game, insisting he will be calmness itself spending Sunday with his family and watching United meet Manchester City at Old Trafford.

Liverpool had at least given United food for thought - although even in victory and still harbouring the possibility of a title triumph, Benitez himself was forced to chew on some unpalatable statistics.

He was reminded that Liverpool, with only two league defeats this season, could still finish second despite losing fewer games than Manchester United.

And there was also yet another reminder of that dip in Anfield form that cost them 14 points, something which will be pored over as the killer fact if Liverpool do fail to provoke a late United meltdown.

Another fact, one beyond the control of Liverpool or Benitez, was brought into sharp relief as Gerrard and Fernando Torres made the decisive contributions that established the platform for this win.

This world-class pair were starting only their 12th league game together this season, and I asked Benitez how much of a factor this had been, or could be, when the story of this season is written.

He knew its significance as he said: "We have scored a lot of goals from different players, but if we have Gerrard and Torres on the pitch the opposition is wondering who will score, Gerrard or Torres? It also helps the confidence of our players if they are on the pitch with them."

West Ham certainly knew they were on the pitch at Upton Park. Torres made Gerrard's opener and was fouled by Luis Boa Morte for the penalty which Liverpool's captain knocked in at the second time of asking following Robert Green's save.

Torres had left the pitch by the time Ryan Babel scored the third, but by then Liverpool had given yet another demonstration of the progression that deserves the feelgood factor currently surrounding this side.

Liverpool's two league defeats have come at Spurs and Middlesbrough, the first an outrageous slice of beginner's luck for the newly-appointed Harry Redknapp and the second genuinely the result of a poor performance.

It puts those tame draws at inopportune times into perspective. I watched many of those performances and there was frustration around Anfield at Liverpool's inability to dictate terms to inferior opposition.

No more. Liverpool no longer wait before imposing themselves and it has given a team that was always the model of efficiency an extra dimension.

The win at Manchester United, preceded by a dismantling of Real Madrid, appears to have changed the mindset of Liverpool's team, and dare we even suggest it, the mindset of the notoriously stubborn and single-minded Benitez himself.

Liverpool's unofficial motto, repeated by managers and players down the years, was: "First is first and second is nowhere."

True enough, but sometimes you have to acknowledge progress even when there is no new silverware to place in the trophy room. This must apply to Liverpool this season, even if the smart money remains on them ending it empty-handed.

Benitez has an outstanding goalkeeper in Pepe Reina, a solid defence and a balance in midfield between Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso - absent injured yesterday - that allows Gerrard his freedom to link with Torres in what has proved an irresistible partnership.

He must, however, resist the temptation (if any remains) to replace Alonso with Aston Villa's Gareth Barry in central midfield. If Barry arrives, the left flank berth should be his first port of call.

Liverpool need strengthening on the flanks and a new striker must arrive to cover Torres, who has proved susceptible to a worrying hamstring injury this season. If there is concern inside Anfield that he will take himself off to the Confederations Cup with Spain once his interrupted season is over, then it is perfectly understandable.

Benitez, never one to talk down his own team, believes Liverpool are now United's closest rivals, irrespective of this season's eventual outcome.

Chelsea may have something to say about that - Arsenal are currently a very comfortable fourth in the so-called "Big Four" - but you can see Benitez's reasoning.

And while this was not one of their better displays in recent weeks, the manner in which a developing West Ham were brushed aside with the minimum of fuss was another signpost to a successful future for this Liverpool team.

For West Ham's part, the philosophy of manager Gianfranco Zola is plain to see, and it is one that will meet with the full approval of the purists of Upton Park's academy.

Zola will make West Ham pleasing on the eye but he will also try to add that touch of the Italian defensive steel that he will have been brought up on. They were well beaten here, but it is unfair to make harsh judgements on a team so affected by injuries to key players.

Just like Liverpool, West Ham United are on the right track although their eventual destinations may not neccesarily be the same.

For Liverpool, the title remains a hope - but even if they have to content themselves with second place and a share of that record number of title wins with United, there is genuine reason for optimism that they can make a serious bid at setting that record straight next time out.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Phil,

    Wonder how you will react to, when at the end of the season liverpool does not win anything it will be, three seasons without a trophy for Liverpool despite spending relatively huge amount of money.

  • Comment number 2.

    poster 1 has a point, and it might be especially galling for the Kop if Everton take home the FA cup & MU the Champions' League.

  • Comment number 3.

    I used to disagree with all the comments regarding Liverpool bias on the BBC. Whilst it is still possible for Liverpool to win, the title race is nowhere near as close as the fight to beat the drop.... with the possibility of 4 teams being able to beat the drop on the last day ( i appreciate that like Liverpool overhauling Man utd, WBA coming back is also hugely unlikely)... But surely some focus on the basement battle at this time is more warranted given the league standings?

    So why do Liverpool get so much coverage, there are other more interesting areas of the league to discuss at the moment (opinion i know but im confident its a shared one.)

    micro rant over

  • Comment number 4.

    If United do resist the Liverpool pressure, the Reds will be asking themselves the question "would it have been a different story if Torres and Gerrard played more games together?" From the limited few they have managed, I think they are probably the best partnership in the league, if not on a par with Vidic and Ferdinand.

  • Comment number 5.

    As a Man utd fan I have to admit that Liverpool have pushed it really close this season and had it not been for some ridiculous draws at home would now be in a commanding lead. I may add though that they also got out of gaol on a couple of occaisions the one that springs to mind is the middlesborough game.
    At the end of the day promise is promise but silverware is required to back it up and this could be another blank for Rafa.
    I live in Thailand and having seen the ridiculous TV advert that is airing at the moment advertising their summer Asian tour he deserves it!
    In all seriousness a good showing by liverpool this season but that does not mean that next season or in the furure there are any guarentees of siverware, Alex will still be one step ahead of Max!

  • Comment number 6.

    I feel Liverpool will look to the future with optimism, as they have made real progress this season. The Game has changed, however, in the last 10 years, when a large squad is prerequisite. Liverpool and Benitez need to recognise this fact and ( a ) build a strong squad and ( b ) not tinker too much with a settled side, although keeping 20 players happy is no mean feat ! Ferguson will retire in the next couple of years and in life as in football nothing is forever, so I would expect a slow decline in Man Utd's fortunes. Ferguson though is almost paranoid about leveling and overtaking Liverpool's record in the League and Europe. I don't think even he would have expected the success his tenure has brought and you have to admire this in the modern game, just as Bob Paisley's record was supreme in his day.

  • Comment number 7.

    Good article, well done.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    You can call the loss to Tottenham an 'outrageous slice of beginners luck' as they scored very late on, but surely by the same merits you can say the 4 or so games that Liverpool have won in injury time are also outrageous slices of luck, without which maybe we would be talking about Guus Hiddink's Chelsea team instead.

    I don't have a great memory for results so it's only the Fulham game springs to mind, but I'm pretty sure there are at lease 3 or 4 games that the Anfield outfit were fortunate to pick up the three points in.

    I am not belittling Liverpool's achievement of pushing United the whole way this season, as they have been tremendous for the past 8 or so games, I'm merely pointing out that you have to take a season as a whole. Liverpool are clearly improving, but I still think that they will continue to drop points over the course of the season, despite how it looks with their grinding out results with relative ease at the moment.

  • Comment number 10.

    As you predicted wrongly that Chelsea will win the league, now you are hoping for Liverpool win and gave it a full coverage !!! How about liverpool also winning the FA cup and CL ??? Not sure if you are anti-ManU or pro-Liverpool but let's see how much coverage you give united on sunday night !! And as rightly mentioned, no mention of the relegation battle ?!? Impulsive and narrow minded reporting in my opinion .. !!

  • Comment number 11.

    'Phil,

    Wonder how you will react to, when at the end of the season liverpool does not win anything it will be, three seasons without a trophy for Liverpool despite spending relatively huge amount of money.'

    Well considering he actually said in the blog that the smart money is on United and Liverpool aren't likely to win anything this year, I doubt his reaction will be over the top. Also lest we forget, these relatively huge amounts of money have been rebuilding a whole team. Liverpool don't have the luxury of splashing out 30 million on Berbatov.

    Anyway Phil, Some interesting points. What annoys me with this season (apart from all the draws)is that most people seem to discount Liverpools performance. So many times I have heard that it was because the opposition were in a shambles and played poorly.

    The other point that people seem keen to make is that the other big four have had poor season and that next season the other teams will improve and Liverpool won't be able to challenge. I don't understand this because last season when United were considered fantastic, they had the same points total as the do at this stage this season, while Chelsea only have 3 points less. Also it seems that people believe that the other three big 4 teams will improve and yet Liverpool are going to at best stay exactly the same.

    Towards the end of this season Liverpool seem to have discovered how to play to win and I feel that with a few additions to the squad we will be challenging again next season. I don't think this is a one off.

  • Comment number 12.

    #3 I can understand your frustration of a tendency to focus on the top rather than the bottom but I think that there is a sensible reason as to why Liverpool are the focus of McNulty this week.

    The story of a 3-0 win at West Ham has the potential to become a huge story today. Unlikely though it may be, if Utd drop points Liverpool's win takes on much greater significance.

    Furthermore, the real picture of the relegation battle this weekend doesn't really take shape until after Monday and the possible make or break North East Derby. Therefore, Monday makes more sense, in terms of timing, to look at the drop.

  • Comment number 13.

    Football seasons are always full of 'what ifs ....'

    What if Liverpool hadn't failed to win so many games ?
    What if Gerrard and Torres had played as a partnership more often ?
    What if Owen Hargreaves has actually kicked a ball this season ?
    What if Cronaldo had been fit at the start of the season ?
    What if Arsenal had bought Arshavin earlier than they did ?
    What if Chelsea had appointed Guus and not Big Phil at the start of the season ?

    It's not the 'what ifs' that matter, it's the 'what is' that does, and the 'what is' this year is that Liverpool have done better than expectations, and are still in with a shout - albeit a slightly hoarse shout - of winning the Premiership. The odds are against it, and the chances are Manyoo will win again, thus drawing them level with Liverpool on 18 domestic championships each.

  • Comment number 14.

    Am I the only one who thought West Ham played magnificently and 3-0 was hugely unreflective of the game? I thought West Ham suffered a huge injustice to lose by 3 goals. A 2-1 result would, I thought, have been a perfect reflection of the match. I certainly thought West Ham matched Liverpool completely in the first half, and at times even looked the far better side with lovely passing moves!

    Or perhaps this is some unintentional bias, given I'm a united fan?...

    Either way, I genuinely was impressed with West Ham and thought 3-0 was extremely harsh on their performance

  • Comment number 15.

    Take Drogba out of Chelsea and their results were poor.
    Take Ronaldo out of Man Utd and their results were poor.
    Take both Gerrard and Torres out of Liverpool and our results were poor in January leading to a seies of draws.

    The fact is, Rafa has improved the squad and the clubs relative league position pretty much every year. This is to be applauded and recognised. Along the way we have consistently qualified for the Champions League - something we strived for under previous managers. We have been to 2 Champions League finals - with a win in one of them. An FA Cup win along the way adds to the trophies.

    People talk of the money Rafa has spent, but he has been consistently outspent by both Utd and Chelsea, and Torres remains our most expensive signing (at around £23 million). Compare this to the price of Man Utd or Chelsea's players and it becomes apparent how much 'catching up' Rafa has had to do.

    I am delighted with our manager and the progress he has made. He has managed to get AF well and truly riled and will continue to push for the league title. He continues to ensure Liverpool remain a major force in football and the future is looking very bright indeed.

    Happy days...

  • Comment number 16.

    End of the day, dress it up how you like...if they don't catch united, they finish second..what is there to celebrate about?....just another season with no trophy's....after spending a shed load of money (aka more than united) in the 6 seasons that Benitez has been in charge....nothing to shout about me thinks.

    P.s I am not a united fan...I'm a palace fan and am well aware that we have even less to shout about!

  • Comment number 17.

    A good article Phil and it hits most of the salient points but especially the one about not selling Alonso. Xabi has been simply magnificent this season and is key in making us tick all around the field. I would be happy enough with Barry joining but supplementing the team not replacing Alonso. I think Lucas will be one leaving along with a few other fringe players who are not up to the task. I am delighted to be pushing for the title at this stage but can't help thinking that a fit Torres playing in some of those annoying draws would have made all the difference and for that reason our number 1 buy for next season has to be another class striker. I also think a right winger/midfielder and another right back would be important, maybe as cover but we need them. With this we would have strength in depth in every position.

    Finally onto poster Frekeystyley34, you are missing the point with your post. In all the matches where we had late winners we were by far the better side and but for poor finishing (step up Robbie Keane) or great goalkeeping would have won, whereas Spurs were battered from start to finish but had the luck that saw them get 2 goals they didn't really deserve. I am not begrudging them there win, just explaining the difference. The Boro away performance was simply poor.

  • Comment number 18.

    im delighted to see liverpool showing their class with exciting attacking football. they seem the only team geuninely able of knocking united off their perch. Although Liverpool have undoubtedly be unlucky with the injuries of Torres and Gerrard I can't help but think it all went wrong when Benitez had his big rant...I lost a lot of respect for him there too.

    That aside I hope Liverpool can offer an even better title challenge next season. Unfortunately I think this seasons title race is over.

  • Comment number 19.

    Phil,

    As you are a life long Liverpool fan and the BBC Chief Sport Writer you seem to mix these two elements more than is justifiable. Your blog, along with the Hansen and Lawro parts of the BBC Sports Website get an over emphasis that Mr 'the facts' Benitez will be delighted in.

    Your blog, nice and detailed, is rushed out on a Sunday morning, is nothing more than a mouthpiece for LFC.

    Can you turn to more meaningful analysis in the future?

  • Comment number 20.

    Why has the BBC Sport's chief football writer written an entire blog about Liverpool when clearly the most interesting and significant results yesterday were at the bottom of the Premier League?

  • Comment number 21.

    Im sorry
    spent a huge amount of money
    we have splashed out the least of the big four in my eyes

  • Comment number 22.

    The media seem to make much of the fact that Torres and Gerrard have 'only' started 12 league games together. However, why do they never give the reason why only 12 games have been started together? Over to you Phil!

    Chicken Curry, Try reading a decent paper, you may get the real facts about Benitez's spending. And by the way, Utd already had a great side and Ferge has spent more Rafa just tweaking and adding to his squad. Benitez has had to reconstruct a whole new squad. And, a lot of those transfers were to bolster out reserves for the future.

  • Comment number 23.

    14. What game were you watching seriously? Liverpool dictated the game from start to finish and never looked in trouble. Rather than 3-0 being harsh, I think it could have been a hell of a lot worse for West Ham

  • Comment number 24.

    Can everyone stop complaining that there were more important stories yesterday? Phil was at Upton Park and so he gave us his views on that game. And for those of you saying Phil is a Liverpool fan, I have read enough of his blogs where I have finished and been annoyed about how anti-Liverpool he is. But he's neither pro or against Liverpool. And if you want fact and not opinion don't read a blog.

  • Comment number 25.

    Since Benitez took charge of Liverpool in 2004, he has spent an impressive £215,490,000 on players, receiving £98,030,000. That amounts to a net spend of £117,460,000. If you take off the £14m paid for Djibril Cisse in 2004, as that was Gerard Houllier's deal, even then Rafa's net spend tots up to £103,460,000. In comparison, Chelsea have a net spend of £131,150,000 in that time, while Manchester United have only splashed out £93,300,000.

    Arsenal have obviously spent the least. Since Benitez's arrival, Liverpool have spent the most.

  • Comment number 26.

    Brilliant and all as liverpool were yesterday its always been their problem maintaining it over a season.
    I think they would be mad to sell alonso, he was brilliant all year. They definately need to find two fullbacks and possibly a stand in for torres when he's injured. They never really replaced robbie keane.
    Having said that i would love it if they could catch united....make my day!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    to jacktheliverpoolfan

    Get real, spent the least of the big 4? Benitez has spent more than fergie since he took over and that's a fact! Oh and I think arsenal fans may query ur point ever so slightly.

    Another misguided Liverpool fan, when will they ever learn, get used to second place.

  • Comment number 28.

    Is not the most salient point here that Benitez may have discovered that in trying to win games with MORE intent from the start, you gain more than you lose.

    People didnt think 3 points for a win when it was brought in a few years ago would make any difference.

    Well, it was brought in as much to reward teams who were prepared to risk defeat and go for the win (and to Utds credit, their first emphasis is attack, Benitez has always looked at defence first)

    Fact is you can win titles by losing 6 games but can lose titles by only losing 2 games.

    Liverpool have improved on the pitch, they need to continue to improvement mentally, draws against teams below the bottom 4 are not good enough, and that is what has cost the title not the great Utd team (which it isnt). If it was such a great team,they would have steamrollered teams like past Utd teams. Generally they have not, reliance has been more on not conceding throughout the vast part of the season.

  • Comment number 29.

    21, i think u'll find arsenal have spent by far the least amount of money in the top 4. Benitez spends about the same amount as united!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    The team has developed some belief, resilience, and flair, but the early season impotence against lesser opposition at anfield will eventually be our undoing. Benitez needs to be congratulated for this campaign considering the boardroom unrest he has to contend with again this season. Well done reds you are giving what reds fans have craved for: a premiership challenge. Deep down we know MUFC will acquire the required points but we are proud of your efforts whatever happens

  • Comment number 31.

    the season is over.

    why on earth are you harping on about liverpool scoring 1 decent goal and 2 tap ins?


    seriously, find something else to talk about.

    bbc = kopites

  • Comment number 32.

    people say about liverpool needing a new striker to play with torres, some people even suggesting tevez, but gerrard playing as second striker behind torres has worked brilliantly and look how many gerrard has scored. they need a cover striker that can fill in well when needed.
    they need players most in the fullback and winger positions. glen johnson would be my no.1 choice as right back. barry would be expensive and his preferred position is not winger, but it depends how much money there is available.

  • Comment number 33.

    Some people just can't see the woods for the trees can they concerning transfers and money spent! The LIverpool squad was absolute dross in 2004. We had some decent first team players but our squad was awful. Money had to be spent initially on stop-gaps because spending 40 million on 2 players when 6 or 7 were needed wouldn't have been a good idea.

    Can't people see that Fergie only had to 'ADD' to an already great team. He spent as much as Rafa just 'tweaking' his team. Rafa had to build a whole new squad. This is not difficult to grasp.

  • Comment number 34.

    Another season of ifs buts and maybes for Liverpool. This season has shown the best and usual of them. Ending Chelseas unbeaten record at home, beating Man U 4-1 then going and drawing to Stoke & Hull.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Liverpool can win the Premier League but they have got to start how they've ended this season and then keep it going.

  • Comment number 35.

    given that the Liverpool team that Benitez inherited was pants, its not surprising that he has had to spend more than Man U to attempt to bridge the gap.

    Liverpool has done very well this year, and I agree with an earlier post that it is wrong to suggest that their success this season is down to the poor play of the teams around them. Man U may win the league with 92 points, which is hardly a poor effort.

    For now, Man U have the better team, but who knows what will happen next season. However, my bet is Liverpool are unlikely to win the league until SAF retires. My guess is that he's been hanging on to better his CL record, but also to surpass Liverpool in terms of league championships. I bet he wont go until hes done that.

  • Comment number 36.

    Steven Gerrard's interview on match of the day summarised Liverpool's season. If they win the title then great but more importantly they are top of the table with 2 games left, a position they have not been for a considerable amount of time and which in itself is evidence of improvement.

    spot on Phil...'The words may read like sacrilege when set against Anfield's old bootroom philosophies, but if Liverpool do finish second, and that is still an if, then they can take huge pride and satisfaction from this season.'

    as a west ham fan it was disappointing to see them get brushed aside(regardless of the dodgy ref decision on boa morte. liverpool were superior) but there are enough positives to take from this season not to get disheartened.

    Zola may will be the 'face' of the partnership and is clearly influential in the way the team attacks but defensively surely Steve Clarke is the meastro of discipline and frugalness as much as Zola brings a 'touch of the Italian defensive steel that he will have been brought up on'?




  • Comment number 37.

    Liverpool have definitely given United a run for the title this timeout.However, I don' think the 14points lost along the way are an issue, considerng they(Liverpool) could easily have lost 4 of those 7games.In particular the draw against portsmouth which proved to be the nail in Tony Adams' coffin as he was fired a few days later. That game should have been a victory for p'mouth had they defended with abit more sine, and had David James not conceeded 2pretty soft goals.Not to mention, the 3-2 comeback againt Man City.In that case I believe you're only as good as your oponent is poor.Man City were pathetic in the 2nd half.
    However, thumbs up to Liverpool for this season so far and goodluck to them trying to surplant the great ManUtd from the summit in the next 3games. United We Stand!!!!!

  • Comment number 38.

    Oh and I see the title of the blog has changed on the front page .. after a potentially meaningless 3-0 win, you go and write "Liverpool .. to Glory"!!!! a little out of touch of reality if you ask me .. looks more like a fan's comment rather than a reporters piece !!!

  • Comment number 39.

    Liverpool have definitely been giving United a run for their money. About winning the title- ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm; I still think United will win it (sigh) but next season we could have a real chance if we sign some quality players for better strength in depth. Aaron Lennon, Gareth Barry and Roque Santa Cruz (if not crocked) would be good additions and may just take us to the next level.

  • Comment number 40.

    If Liverpool don't win anything this season people will go on about the 'Torres and Gerrard factor' and if they had played more games together.But the trouble is Torres seems quite prone to injury as is Gerrard. If they don't win anything I wouldn't be suprised if Benitez tries to sell some players, which is what he shouldn't be doing. If Alonso leaves for Juventus then the team will be weakened severely in my opinion. Liverpool fans will say that Benitez won't sell Alonso but he tried last year after he had a good season, whats to stop him now. He still seems keen on Barry.

  • Comment number 41.

    All this bbc liverpool bias is pathetic. A 3-0 away win against a much improving west ham side that sends liverpool back to the top of the league is the top story of yesterdays results and Phil has to respect that fact. Certainly, every lfc fan woke up today with thoughts of the utd game and that very remote hope we can still win the league but the over riding feeling from lfc fans is that whatever happens, this season has been all about the progression we've made. After 20 years of being nowhere near good enough to win the league i'm finally ready to wager a large bet on them winning it next season. Only 2 defeats is title winning form. For me though, my optimisism comes from every result this season. The wins - dominated every game but sometimes found it hard to break down stubborn teams. Nevertheless we kept going and upped the pace when necessary to score late. Just like utd have won the league doing for years. the draws - Most of the draws were at a time when we missed key players and lucas came in. Missing Torres aswell, there was no real penetration. I dont think we'll have that situation next year. Rafa has to and will strengthen those areas. Even the defeats - 1 which i'll never understand how we lost and only one where we didn't turn up. I remember a lot more than that last year. Maybe, like utd, we''ll have none next year. Also, long term managers are more successful and with Rafa's new contract it all points to one thing. Liverpool are back as one of the worlds greatest clubs - to be consolidated next year. I know a lot of you hate that thought, lol, but thats the story of the morning folks. Deal with it.

  • Comment number 42.

    When Arsenal were so reliant on Henry, he was a physical freak, never missed a game. Ronaldo is similarly very strong physically (although Utd don't rely solely on him). Same with Lampard. Liverpool meanwhile, rely heavily on Torres and Gerrard as we all know but these two are the least strong physically out of the players mentioned and have a long history of injuries. It is all well and good saying 'what if they had played together more' but the simple fact is that these two will never be able to go through a whole season without getting injured.

    p.s. Notice you didn't mention the foul on Boa Morte which was missed by the ref and led to him giving the penalty away. 2-0, game changing decision, game over. Funny that point was glossed over by McManaman on Setanta as well. Guess that's what happens when the media is saturated with Liverpool fans.

  • Comment number 43.

    We can all point to the fact that benitez has spent x amount of cash its all there in the public domain for all to see.

    But what is clear is that we have not spent 33 million on a defender nearly ten years ago our record signing for a defender is martin skertl who came in at around 7 mil, our 33 million gets us 5 players.
    I would just like to point out one more thing before we discuss the blog,Rick parry three times told rafa benitez porkie pies, Cristiano ronaldo is not worth 12mil nemanja vidic is not worth 7mil and robbie keane is a better option for 20mil our time is coming.
    We can all point to last min goals if we did that manchester united would be, i reckon a couple of premier league titles short its a sign of a good team its a sign of champions as i keep hearing from manchester united fans,I see there is no mention of the prolific goalscoring exploits at old trafford when they are scrapping 1 nil wins this year we have scored 38 goals in 12 games and have played some pretty sensational football.
    As phil points out 12 games started(i think it might be 14 now phil)for gerrard and torres and still scored 100 goals this season we have the best striker in the world the best midfielder in the world and one of the best managers in the world.
    Before the season started people asked me for my expectations and what I wanted from my side,there is only one trophy us pool fans want but for me i just wanted to be in a title race we have not been in one for so long and to push man u all the way.

    If we dont win the league then I think we have to look at the draws at home, but take nothing away its been a learning curve and with the spine of the team in place and our manager not cracking up and just talking facts,the fact of the matter is Liverpool football club is back it has taken him a few years but we are back!! we are european heavy weights again no one wants to play us in the champions league and now we are hunting domestic titles down.

    The dyansty is back

  • Comment number 44.

    It baffles me why there is always such a fuss over money spent. It's clear to see, even to a blind man, that Liverpool had to spend more money than most as other teams had a better foundation than them. If you're not winning the league or major trophies each season, you've obviously got less chance of attracting bigger and better players. United for example have been the big team for a decade, have a bigger and better squad, plus clearly have some strong youth coming through. There aren't many clubs that have this luxury in recent years.

    This season Liverpool can hold their heads up high as they've played above and beyond what was expected. A lot of players (and lets be honest here LFC fans) were classed as nothing more than rotation players, but have done extremely well this season. However, if LFC rely on these players being as good next season, and not improving the squad with some major signings, there is no chance of winning the league next season.

    At one point the league was LFCs for the taking before they started drawing all the time, and now it's United's to throw away. It's that simple.

    No matter what happens, I'm proud to be a Liverpool fan and even if we win nothing this season, the entire team has stepped up a level and that has been lacking for a long time. With players bought in key areas that the squad has been lacking, it's onwards and upwards.

  • Comment number 45.

    west ham capitulated plain and simple. It was a terrible performance by them. Liverpools solid defence let in 7 goals over a two legged tie. Says it all really!

  • Comment number 46.

    I Dont know if this is relevant here; but Guus Hiddink finally tasted defeat in the worst way; referees incompetence.
    In 2002 He managed an overrated South Korean team that beat Italy after the worst referring decisions ever. They had about two goals disallowed, penalty appeals dismissed as well as some wrong offside decisions. The referee display was the worst I have ever seen.
    Moreover, in the QF of the world cup, they faced Spain who scored about two goals that were not given, as well as penalty decisions not given and so it meant that South Korea went to the semis due to some outrageous referring, so I am happy that Guus Hiddink finally got what he deserved

  • Comment number 47.

    Such lazy journalism to make yesterday's win about Gerrard and Torres. They did link up for the first goal (aided and abetted by woeful defending) but to suggest that they linked up for the penalty is clutching at straws at best, and disingenuous at worst. Other than that, they made hardly any major contribution at all and if Boa Morte hadn't gone mad and yanked Torres back, there was no suggestion Liverpool would do anything but close the game out with nine men behind the ball. It was how solid and tenacious their midfield was and how well the two banks of four combined that made it look so easy!
    Also, this oft-quoted 12 games started together is pretty unqualified- how many games have Rooney and Ronaldo started together, or maybe more interestingly, how many games games have Liverpool started with their first-choice centre-backs compared to United.
    I hope Liverpool win next year, this must all be really galling for the BBC...

  • Comment number 48.

    Phil,

    As a ManUtd fan even I'm getting tired of this obsession with the top 4. It is not good for our league, and it belittles what else is going on in the table. Results yesterday make this one of the most exciting relegation battles in years.

    If ManUtd should drop points today v City, or away to Wigan, then by all means a 'title race back on' blog, but currently this is not the story that is making the climax of this season exciting.

    This is the first season I can remember in a long time where no one team is adrift at the bottom, and 6 teams could still go down or stay up. WBA have held their heads high this season in a completely dignified matter, it is a credit to the club, the supporters and the staff. I hope they pull off a miracle, and (obviously take points from Liverpool next week!).


  • Comment number 49.

    Predictions for end of season.
    1. Liverpool
    2. Man Utd
    3. Chelsea
    4. Arsenal
    5. Aston Villa
    6. Everton
    7. Man City
    8. Fulham
    9. West Ham
    10. Tottenham
    11. Wigan
    12. Bolton
    13. Portsmouth
    14. Stoke
    15. Blackburn
    16. Sunderland
    17. Newcastle
    18. Hull
    19. Boro
    20. West Brom

  • Comment number 50.

    "Liverpool on road to glory"?! Sorry did I miss something?

    Last year did we get, "Glorious Chelsea romp to second place"?

    Maybe you should go for, "Mesmerising Blackburn march to 14th"?

  • Comment number 51.

    At 09:26am on 10 May 2009, freakeystyley34 wrote:

    You can call the loss to Tottenham an 'outrageous slice of beginners luck' as they scored very late on, but surely by the same merits you can say the 4 or so games that Liverpool have won in injury time are also outrageous slices of luck, without which maybe we would be talking about Guus Hiddink's Chelsea team instead.

    I don't have a great memory for results so it's only the Fulham game springs to mind, but I'm pretty sure there are at lease 3 or 4 games that the Anfield outfit were fortunate to pick up the three points in.

    ---

    Scoring in the last minute isn't lucky if you've dominated the game, as we did against Fulham. However we were lucky against Middlesbrough earlier in the season.

  • Comment number 52.

    On the road to glory? And what glory is that, exactly?

    Yet more drivel from the BBC that wants to think Liverpool will win. Is it possible for them to employ someone without a Liverpool bias?

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think the progression Liverpool have shown this year with a settled team devoid of unnecessary rotation and a manager who has snapped out of his defense minded policy has been a revelation, we now have a confidence we've not had for many years with a team that is quite frankly a great team...if only we could drop zonal marking for man to man!!.

    As for all this pointless rubbish about money spent on transfers, we have had to almost completely rebuild the club were by ManU have only had to tweak it...we did not have the luxury of splashing out 30mill on a player when we had 5/6 positions that needed strengthening.
    Lets take for example the 05/06 season, ManU had..and still have....
    Edwin van der Sar
    Wes Brown
    Patrice Evra
    Rio Ferdinand
    Gary Neville
    John O'Shea
    Nemanja Vidic
    Darren Fletcher
    Ji Sung Park
    Paul Scholes
    Ryan Giggs
    Cristiano Ronaldo
    Wayne Rooney
    Thats the spine of the team they have now and pretty much their first team. Compare that to how many Liverpool players are still at the club now.
    José Manuel Reina
    Daniel Agger
    Jamie Carragher
    Sami Hyypiä
    Steven Gerrard
    Xabi Alonso
    It's a hard job rebuilding half the team on limited funds and trying to build up the youth sides as well for the future...all i'm saying is put the 'money spent on transfers' issue into context.

  • Comment number 55.

    25. At 10:10am on 10 May 2009, mexicola wrote:

    Since Benitez took charge of Liverpool in 2004, he has spent an impressive 215,490,000 on players, receiving 98,030,000. That amounts to a net spend of 117,460,000. If you take off the 14m paid for Djibril Cisse in 2004, as that was Gerard Houllier's deal, even then Rafa's net spend tots up to 103,460,000. In comparison, Chelsea have a net spend of 131,150,000 in that time, while Manchester United have only splashed out 93,300,000.

    Arsenal have obviously spent the least. Since Benitez's arrival, Liverpool have spent the most.

    ---

    You just said Liverpool have spent the most since Benitez arrived yet gave a bigger figure for Chelsea.. Contradict yourself much?

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    I don't have anything particularly against Phil McNulty nor do I feel he has any bias towards any particular team. What does annoy me a bit about his blogs is that they are frequently an over-the-top reaction to some team's performance the day before.

    Today Liverpool are brilliant, their manager is a genius. But how he blogs about Man U tomorrow depends on the result today. It doesn't matter if Man U totally dominate today and somehow lose unluckily. If they win then tomorrow they will be unbeatable, Ferguson will be the master, he will have been toying with Benitez and the outcome was never in doubt. But if they lose then it will be that Ferguson is rattled, Benitez is now the psychological master, and Liverpool are arguably the best team in the league.

    I know that it's journalism and it has to be made interesting but I wish sometimes that people would not make rash judgements after each game. It's easy to be a know-all after each game. What about blogging before each game and giving your opinion on each team's merits and perhaps some predictions. One game does not change everything all of a sudden, anything can happen in one game - teams can have an off-day, they can be unlucky, be the victims of bad refereeing decisions, etc.

    More often than not, when you see some hype being made about some particular team then that's time to start looking at the opposite. I've no doubt that whether Liverpool win the league or not this season that everyone will be touting them as the champions for next season. But there's every chance they will disappoint and Arsenal will actually do better. And how can you suggest Chelsea will be inferior to Liverpool - they have matched them this season and put them out the champions league. They will also be determined to recapture the league next season after 3 years without it and I wouldn't bet against them. Man City will improve and Man U will probably still be the team to beat.

    Benitez whinges about not having Gerrard and Torres together enough this season but that's more of a negative point for me when looking to the future for them. It shows they are dependant on these two players and therefore exposed to the risk of one or both getting injured. When they stop moaning about how they need to have those two playing together more often then I will start believing they might be a great team. Another thing to look at is that Liverpool will surely not have as many great escapes next season as they had in this one. There have been numerous games this season, especially earlier in the season, that they have scored one or two goals very late in games to give them victories that the probably didn't deserve.

    For what it's worth, my predictions for next season are:

    Man U - will be much same as this season although might struggle to dominate as much especially if Ronaldo goes

    Liverpool - will be everyone's tip to win the league next season but they will not live up to the hype, precisely because they are too reliant on a few of their players and Benitez's attempts to improve the team up to the standard to match Man U will be met with difficulty

    Chelsea - much the same as this season and will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season

    Arsenal - will be improved from this season and should mount a serious challenge for the league

    Man City - will be vastly improved from this season and have a massive chance of breaking into the top 4.

    This means of course one of the above will not qualify for the champions league season after next and I would not be surprised at all if that is Liverpool.

  • Comment number 58.

    L is for losers!
    happy with 2nd and no trophies for 3 years.
    Paisley and Shankley will be spinning in their graves.

  • Comment number 59.

    I really enjoy hearing all the optimism surrounding Liverpool's title hopes. This is deserved due to their 'Never Say Die' attitude.

    Unfortunately United have to lose against City in today's clash for there to remain even a slight hope of cliching the title. I don't see United dropping points anywhere else apart from Arsenal

  • Comment number 60.

    Forgive me for not sharing the optimism displayed by some fellow Liverpool fans here. The one common trend in the Benitez era has always been that we tend to finish the season very strongly - so what's new this season? Yes ok, we've done it with a bit more style than usual but the fact remains that once again we are looking back to results between November and January (mostly at home) that have cost us dearly.

    The reason for this is the manager's baffling perseverence with non-footballers (I'm sorry, I can't think of more apt words to describe them) such as Lucas, Dossena, Ngog, El Zhar. I think someone mentioned the 'what if' regarding Gerrard and Torres being fit for more of the season and that's just it - you know you can't rely on them being fit for 35+ games, so you should focus on improving the squad players that I have just mentioned so that when they aren't there, you cope. We could go spend big money on Villa, Etoo, Barry in the summer but while these players are still at the club, we still won't quite be good enough.

    On the plus side it has been a pleasure to watch the likes of Benayoun, Mascherano, Skrtel and Alonso really push on this season and I hope they can sustain that into next year.

  • Comment number 61.

    Good blog as usual phil.

    Its funny how so many people out their continue to accuse McNulty of being a red. I assume you be going the cup final phil? As much as it pains me to say it but i actually wont you blue boys to win it because i cant stand chelski.

    Im keeping my fingers crossed that the mancs slip and two trophies will return home to merseyside....

  • Comment number 62.

    Anyone remember this:

    "I must confess I have never shared in the adoration of Alonso, indeed I've even been heard to whisper the words "vastly over-rated" when I thought no-one was listening."

    Yes Phil McNulty during the pursuit of Barry. The tune seems to have changed somewhat! And yes, perhaps Liverpool were unlucky to lose to Spurs but then how many times this season have Liverpool done exactly the same by scoring a last gasp winner?

    To suggest that because Liverpool keep winning during the run in (something which nearly everyone expected, give the ease of fixtures) that the title is going to Anfield, is a bit of a stretch. Even if Man United were to draw with Man City today, they would only need two wins from three against teams which have hardly been inspiring confidence lately. Wigan, wished their season ended in January. An Arsenal team who won't be looking forward to another return to Old Trafford and Hull, who right now can't seem to buy a win. It's hard to see where Man United will drop points.

  • Comment number 63.

    At the start of the season, I and many other Liverpool fans said if we can provide some sort of title challenge we'll be happy, we have done that and have shown beyond doubt that we have the capabilities to win the league. I know it shouldn't be an excuse, but Torres' injuries problems has had a massive affect. Even with his problems he has scored 13 times in the league, putting 5th on the top scorers table, imagine if he was fit all season.

    But anyway, if we can get in a good replacement for Torres, get in quality for the wings, and next year we will have a real go

  • Comment number 64.

    As an Arsenal fan I am relatively unbiased between the two teams, however I would say that Liverpool are for me, much the better side (see 4-1 crushing). United still seem to have, as they have for much of Ferguson's time in charge, that element of luck about them. The last minute winner, or the dubious refereeing decisions going their way. Liverpool by contrast never seem to get any luck, and I'd much rather watch a game of theirs (which is either a goal-heavy game, or a proper upset) than watch United grind out a dull 1-0 victory courtesy of Ronaldo. I would wager that may well even be the final score in Rome...

  • Comment number 65.

    I have to ask, in a weekend, where Stoke became safe, West Brom won their first game in ages, why is the chief football writer , writing about the same old same old? If United win loose or draw today will there be a blog tomorrow about them? Or will the other teams that actually make it a league warrant some scribbled words of wisdom from our monocular friend?

  • Comment number 66.

    I doubt you could find a more pro-Liverpool article without visiting the club's own website. The truth of the league now is that the leaders need 7 points from 4 games and nothing Liverpool do changes that.

    As to next year, the truth on that is Liverpool will rarely get a better chance than this year. Man Utd barely showed up in the early months and Chelsea consigned themselves to disarray. Both will be better next year. Arsenal remain an enigma, but could yet end their seemingly permanent transition.

    So for all their debt, all their spending, all their record 62 man squad, Liverpool have missed their chance. And we still await the impact on that squad of renegotiating their bank debt this summer. It's an expensive time to find new bank facilities, and there will be more restrictions than last time round. Enforced player sales must still be likely.

    Far more likely for next year for Liverpool is back to chasing for the fourth slot. They may be in the "big four" when it comes to spending or debt, but they don't merit inclusion in any elite until they win the league, which still looks some way off for all Benitez's rhetoric.

  • Comment number 67.

    Given Liverpool V Tottenham is the final day of the season, you might want to re visit, Harry's outrages slice of luck. Spurs could yet drive the final nail into Liverpools title ambitions.

  • Comment number 68.

    zzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Comment number 69.

    I just read Phil's Match Report and He states Boa Morte was fouled just outside His own area?
    He also fails to mention the significance of the "chop".
    Mascerano was on His last warning and He was nearer the halfway line and His momentum had taken Him through when He was completely taken out. Look at Mascerano's face after the tackle, He thought it may be red, the ball was no where in sight. I really feel for Boa Morte as He is clearly thinking how can that little tug on Torres be a penalty, when a complete "wipe out" is not even a free kick?
    I remember a few seasons ago that a tackle from behind was a straight red......
    Once again, the Ref is the star of the show and making more impact on these important business end games then the players.

  • Comment number 70.

    PHIL McNULTY is the BBC Sport's chief football writer and I do appreciate immensely his contributions to Football and thank him for the same...it is a sad thing in this day and age when people like speedygun and the like think that they are wiser and smarter than experts in their fields,,,excellent article , Phil ...please keep it up .
    cheers

  • Comment number 71.

    In response to a few of the comments here:

    Liverpool haven't spent a huge amount relative to Man Utd. In fact, the Liverpool squad has cost Benitez roughly £100m less to assemble.
    Alex Ferguson pointed to the total spend by Liverpool on transfers since Benitez arrived, but their net spend has been pretty much covered by FA cup and CL runs.

    Benitez has done a very good job in building a squad to challenge for the League title on a budget.

    He won't get the credit he deserves though since he's a foreigner.

  • Comment number 72.

    As a United Fan, Ferguson sometimes drives me nuts. Liverpool I have admired since I was a lad, they were the team to beat. When Chelsea, Blackburn and Leeds have challenged United over the last 15-20 years, I accepted defeat with grace and saw that were places where United could have and should have improved. Like Liverpools season this year, sometimes United took the lesser placed teams for granted and suffered.
    I am hoping to day against a resurgent Man City side, that Ferguson doesn't resort to resting players. I have to say the griping, complaining, moaning of Liverpool fans here, the begrudgery, the blasting on about records that are now vintage, and their unwillingness to see their managers faults has made there team far less admirable in my eyes. I never thought until this year, that I don't like them anymore. Benitez attitude, while not a lot worse than Fergies has been odd to say the least. His treament of Robbie Keane on the human level, and his bizare tactic of Slagging off another team before his own teams match have made me lose the little respect I had for him. I won't gloat if United win the Champions League or Premier League. I don't have to. The record in the last 10 years speaks for itself. Scoring in the 96th minute or getting penalties isn't luck, it's football. United continue to strive to be better. Benetiz I think has been on a learning curve since he arrived with the special one and with Jol, and is one of the three mustketeers to have changed the shape of the premiership for the good. What is frightening, is that for the most part, United are a team in transition, a lot of young players arrived on the scene both last season and this season. In one or two years, they will be completely formiddable. I think the liverpool problem is their team will start breaking up again this year and Benitez will be banging the check book around hoping to get the right guy.
    Liverpool have been immensely better this year, but no matter about loosing less games, the have won less games too. This should be really the point about their season. They haven't killed off the lesser teams, and Benetez must be held responsible for find out only in Feburary that if his team attack they are a match for anyone.
    They have the personel but in Benetez I honestly think the lack the direction.

  • Comment number 73.

    Interesting comments from some. Especially our friendly United fans.

    Those who are questioning whether this progress will continue, i'll let you know one thing. Every season, Rafa has built the team up into what it is. He has had many critics, mostly from our own fans, but his work cannot be questioned. I firmly believe that with 1 or 2 more top quality players, we will be a major force and an era of dominance will occur. Ferguson won't be around for ever and while some would argue that whoever takes over has a stable team to work with, every side and its manager needs transition time.

    Our progress is undoubted and title or not, i feel Liverpool FC on a whole is in a much better position to challenge, players, staff and fans alike.

    And those who do question Rafa's 'defensive attitude', this is the 2nd year in a row we have scored 100+ goals in a season. Compare that to Barca who have 127 i believe. Not that bad eh?

  • Comment number 74.

    chickencurry:
    Its fairly obvious which daily rag you read!!Muppet!
    Good reading Phil, some good points. Yes it would be good if Xabi Alonso stayed, but there is something we are not seeing between him and Rafa, there has to be or Rafa would put the matter to bed and publicly declare that Alonso is staying and is in his future plans. As for G Barry, he could be an integral piece of the squad, but for me he is not the all singing all dancing player that Rafa seems to think. If he wants to become a squad member and not a regular then fair enough, but if given the choice then it would be Xabi all day for me. Rafa will be looking back on points dropped at Anfield this season, and some of his selections, and hopefully he will learn from some of these errors and move forward next season and take LFC to the next level. In Rafa we have to trust, there is nobody else that can deliver the title to Anfield. He is sometimes too stubborn for his own good but he is the man for LFC and the 19th, 20th and then some more league titles.

  • Comment number 75.

    Liverpool bias from the BBC?!

    find me another team who has put 4 past Chelsea, Arsenal, Real and United this season.

  • Comment number 76.

    Great piece Phil!

    I agree with your comments and I do believe LFC will win the Premier League next season, but we do need a few key signings over the summer to tighten defense and provide more firepower support for Torres. How great it is to see Liverpool play some of the best attacking football in the league. Every time they go forward they look like they are going to score. If only we had not had so many draws.................oh well, no matter how the season ends, the boys have done us proud yet again. Onwards and upwards!

  • Comment number 77.

    As it has already been stated i hate these what if articles. At the end of the day Liverpool let a huge lead at the top of the table slip rather with a wimper, this was their chance to really secure the league now the pressure is off and they play well so you describe it as a new found ruthlessness. Honestly when the pressure was on the liverpool squad buckled, as did their manager with outrageous rants that had no positive effect on his team and actually seemed to spur united on.
    Liverpool need to find someone other than gerrard with a bit of bottle. And dare i say it the progress for me is too slow Benitez has had a fair crack and as you said about Harry Redknapp without some huge slices of luck would not have the CL under his belt they were 3-0 down and i doubt the manager had much to do with the turn around. If i was a Liverpool fan i would be looking for a manager not players. If i were a united fan i would be very worried if a new manager came in. Not to say Benitez is poor but he is clearly effected by Ferguson and he passes it on to his team

  • Comment number 78.

    Shame on you, Phil. You've failed to write another critical piece on Liverpool, preferring to write what you think, which has annoyed the Surrey Utd fans into a conspiracy frenzy. Everybody at the BBC must be a Scouser.

    Utd fans' denial dictates that they won the league because they were better than all else, but Liverpool are only where they are because the others were poor. Liverpool being poor in previous seasons is immaterial and inadmissible evidence.

    Their denial causes them to believe Liverpool, despite a grudging acknowledgemnt of improvement, cannot possibly continue to improve, whereas Utd can only ever get better and Fergie will live forever with his brain stored in a bubbling jar of fluid.

    But Fergie has already started making his excuses for next season - there won't be a shopping spree this summer because they just haven't seen anybody they want. Nothing to do with him being told he can't have any money, no, no, no, there's sure to be denial on that front, too.

    So when Tevez and possibly Ronaldo are gone, with Scholes and Giggs creaking and groaning through the occasional last 20 minutes and no replacements to bolster the killer combo of Anderson and Nani, Fergie will point to Berbatov and Utd fans will groan (as they've done loudly recently) and start to see through their denial to see the end of the era Utd are showing the classic signs of entering.

  • Comment number 79.

    This article is more proof that the BBC loves Liverpool, trying to make the title race something it is not, i.e. close. United would have to lose two games out of 4, you've said it's unlikely, it isn't, it's improbable. If, more likely, when United win the title, we as United fans will again have to listen to rubbish from the BBC about how much Liverpool have missed Torres and Gerrard. You say they've only started 12 games together; that may be true, but it's not because of injuries, it's mainly due to Rafa's team selection. Gerrard has played 29 league games, Torres 22. It just proves only that their squad isn't good enough, because otherwise they've been extremely fortunate with injuries, you can look up physioroom.com or any other such impartial website for evidence. United, in contrast, have missed Hargreaves and Brown, first choice players last season, for effectively the whole season, nevermind long spells out for Rooney, Ronaldo, Gary Neville, Rafael, Carrick, Evra and Ferdinand. This won't be mentioned of course, neither will the fact that Liverpool have played against 10 men on more occasions than normal. If they can't cope without two players it only proves that they're not good enough, not that they're unlucky, as you would like to suggest. This has been Liverpool's best chance to win the title, they won't have it so good again for a long time.

  • Comment number 80.

    lpool on the road to glory??? sounds like the never ending story. this title race has been over for a while. concentrate on important matters like at the bottom. why dont you write a blog on the massive match tomorrow night instead of more prattle about what they are going to do if those 2 are fit or what they will do next season?

    Phil, seeing as you only like to report on things after they happen why dont you wait and only bother to write about the kopites when they actually win something?

    Also, just a suggestion to LFC why dont you change your club motto to "Next year will be our year??"

  • Comment number 81.

    Benitez has made tremendous progress since he came to Liverpool. i am going to give supporting facts.
    1. before he came, Liverpool were behind all of the so call big four by at least 10 points in the premier league. We were behind manu 25 points ,Arsenal 10 points and chelsea 20 points.
    2.All three(Manu,Chelsea and Arsenal) were well established when Benitez arrived.
    3.We were never contenders for championship Football.
    4 HE had to contend with boardroom problems.He was at loggerheads with his employers for must of the time.

    with this mind lets take a look at Benitez achievements .

    1. On his first season he won the championship league. compare that to any manager in the premiership.Liverpool have been contenders in Europe since his arrival
    2.He took him by far fewer games to achieve 100 premiership victories than Sir Alex Ferguson.
    4. He heaped the biggest defeat at home on Manu at the time,when according to SAF he had his best crops of players during his 20 years reign.
    3.He was the first manager to defeat Chelsea at Stamford bridge after they have had an amazing run of form at home.

    These are the facts,Benitez deserves respect.Even SAF will tell you that

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    fastest49; Yes his champions league win should be commended( even though it was a squad he inherited) but apart from that benitez has been rubbish. Two trophies in five years.. He's spent millions on flops like keane, babel, bellamy, voronin, sissoko, lucas. The list goes on and on.. His 'rotation policy' has cost liverpool any chance at the title again and again and zonal marking?!

    And Phil yes torres has been injured for much of the season but you can't blame liverpool's failure on that. Every big team has had at least one major player out. United had ferdinand out for ages, chelsea had essien out and arsenal fabregas. Liverpool have not been 'unlucky' this season, they have been second best to an excellent united team and I can't see them winning the league any time soon

  • Comment number 84.

    My earlier post was a rant on the bbc = lfc angle when it comes to sports page editorial input - which as SAF would say "no question about that". Here are some inputs for Phil McN, Alan Hansen and Lawro to get stuck into over the coming days as surely LFC settle for a street party inducing 2nd!

    "Vidic - United's Rock" [except for the I'll not head that ball match]
    "Fletch - the unsung player of the year"
    "Fletch & Carrick - the most consistent & effective midfield duo in Europe"
    "Rooney/Ronaldo/Park - what are fearsome 3-some that will be in Rome"
    "Scoles & Giggs - not bad for some old fellas"
    "Patrice Evra - the most complete full back, except he is 5foot6"
    "Uniteds U21 team - Quadruple winners 2012?"

    So you can have your debate about how much improved Liverpool are, and how great they might be when they get arron or barry or 3-4 more spaniards, but for the next 3 weeks, whilst the trophies are being handed out, and the victory parades organised it will be Manchester United who arriving at the end of another season GLOURIOUS.




  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    I see you are trying to keep it safe after your mid week blog right? What % of comments were removed?

  • Comment number 87.

    DudeSoRed - The current United team are about to win the Premiership for the 3rd time on the trot, and have a very good chance of winning the Champions' League for the second time in two years. What exactly do you think Fergie needs to change?

  • Comment number 88.

    75. At 1:18pm on 10 May 2009, ks5eurocups18leagues wrote:
    Liverpool bias from the BBC?!

    find me another team who has put 4 past Chelsea, Arsenal, Real and United this season.


    .................


    so what, it's going to be three years without a trophy. you also conceded four to chelsea and arsenal.

    next season ... next season ... next season .... yes, we know, we've heard it before.

  • Comment number 89.

    Liverpool bias from the BBC?!

    find me another team who has put 4 past Chelsea, Arsenal, Real and United this season.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Two of them also scored four past you lol!

    Real Madrid fair play but if you're expecting someone to say oh liverpool are the best, then get on your bike. Cos' thats a load of rubbish. They've definately improved, no doubt about it. And the Liverpool fans and clearly many others are forgetting about Chelsea AND Arsenal. You think Liverpool and United are going to be the only teams to challenge for title, give me a break. Chelsea will improve in the summer, Arsenal in my opinion are on the verge of a solid title challenge again as long as they keep their players fit and sign experienced players in the summer. Its doing my head in that everyone thinks that Liverpool and United are going to continue to challenge for the title on their own with no regard for the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal. After a season Liverpool have had its understandable why they are getting hyped up so much. But come on, take off your tinted glasses Liverpool and United will both be challenged by Arsenal and Chelsea next season for the title. Its complete rubbish to think otherwise and to base that opinion on this season then is also rubbish. Next season will be different, just like this season has been. Come on, its a joke, and people are getting too carried away.



  • Comment number 90.

    @Exiledkopite (number 17)

    I'm interested in your comment that you were by far the better side in all the games you pulled out of the bag. Is this just based on personal opinion? I thought i'd have a look at the match reports as to be honest you could have been completely right.

    The five results i see as being pulled out of the bag are:
    Portsmouth 2-3 Liverpool
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/7867113.stm
    In the first half: "James, who equalled Gary Speed's all-time Premier League record of 535 appearances, was asked to perform heroics only once when he tipped Javier Mascherano's 30-yard flier round the post."

    Liverpool 3-2 Wigan Atheletic
    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/liverpool-3-wigan-athletic-2--kuyt-rises-to-the-occasion-for-liverpool-966027.html
    "It was a harsh outcome for the visitors who were the better team in the fist half"

    Man City 2-3 Liverpool
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/7639491.stm
    "The goal put a spring in City's play and they knocked the Reds out of their stride with a mixture of flair and hard work." After their first goal.

    Liverpool 2-1 Middlesborough
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/7565060.stm
    "A combination of dogged defending and discipline had kept the home side at bay"

    Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/7551170.stm
    "Sunderland did not deserve to lose"

    (I have included links to the match reports for your convenience."

    None of those sounded like games that Liverpool were really dominating for the duration!

    Anyway, i hate speaking in "what if"s anyway, what has happened has happened and if one of the outcomes of an earlier game was changed, you never know what knock on effects there might be that could change things elsewhere!

  • Comment number 91.

    Phil, the last part of your article
    For Liverpool, the title remains a hope - but even if they have to content themselves with second place and a share of that record number of title wins with United, there is genuine reason for optimism that they can make a serious bid at setting that record straight next time out.

    have you cut n pasted this from articles at the end of any of the last 10 seasons?why does this club get so many articles written about them?

    sort it out and stop being so biased. why not write a piece about villa as they "pushed" utd at one point in the season?
    how about stoke surviving against everyones predictions?
    or hull being in free fall and possibly getting relegated after having got to 25 points so quickly?
    Liverpool are bottlers and thats why they are on a good run of form, because it now means nothing.
    at least by the time they play next they prob wont have a mathematical chance of winning anything and we can put all the this season nonsense to bed and go on to..... next year being their year

  • Comment number 92.

    Glad it's not just me - and my entire generation then. Because yes, the BBC are Liverpool obsessives, and have been since the early 70's, possibly even the 60's. Mottie was notorious for biased commentary whenever he covered them, and it was always embarrassing in the 90's when the Beeb followed Liverpool in what were then short and meaningless UEFA cup outings, when other clubs were more deserving.

    This undying devotion has resurfaced with a vengeance in the noughties now their heroes are successful again, and is one of the reasons why many of us over 40 are dreading a Liverpool championship (and the OTT media plaudits afterwards) to the extent we'd rather suffer Utd winning it!

    On the article itself, Liverpool, as many posters have pointed out have spent a fortune in trying to win back 'their league' (an insufferable arrogance many of their fans share) and yet, if it wasn't for Utd stumbling in recent weeks they would have been out of sight a month ago!

    But we are told Liverpool have 'much to be proud of and look forward too'. Was this said about Chelsea who achieved, in fact much more, last season? Erm, no. Liverpool have flattered to deceive many times since 90', and this season, bar a catastrophic Utd collapse, is set to be no different.

    Will they challenge again next season? Well, on past evidence that may be bet too far.

    Will the beebs pundits, as usual, be predicting 'this will be their year'?

    Without a doubt.

  • Comment number 93.

    What is everybody's obsession with "who's spent the most, if he'd done this, such and such played better so they should have won, if a butterfly hadn't broke wind in a brasilian rain forest then we'd be top of the league"

    IT IS WHAT IT IS! Utd are top and they look like they are going to win the league. Why are they top? They have more points. That's all it boils down to.

    I'm a Liverpool fan by the way.

  • Comment number 94.

    You can rotate if you have quality players to bring in, as do Man Utd and Chelsea. Liverpool need strength in depth next season. This year's second string just doesn't cut it.

  • Comment number 95.

    Being best in the Premiership means being best in the world in this day and age. How can you say a team's a failure, and point and sneer, at a club which - with far less strength in depth than MU - have pushed the world champions to the last few games of the season? No Premier League title in 2009 is not a disgrace - it just means LFC are the second best team in the world!

  • Comment number 96.

    Liverpool's strong end to the season has been pretty standard for them

    Liverpool's bottle job when they had to play under pressure in the middle third of the season was also pretty standard for them

    Home and away wins against both Chelsea and United though? Are they really going to do that again next season? Of course not. It was the first time they'd done the league double over United in 7 seasons.

    I know Liverpool fans are giddy about being in the title race for so long this season. But scratch the surface and the picture is a bit different, the gap still very real. Today's derby win was United's 62nd game of the season, and if Riley had grown a pair at Wembley we'd still have 5 more games to come.


  • Comment number 97.

    I love this. Utd fan's are apparently God's gift to the world because they seem to know what will happen in the future with such confidence!

    Dare i say it, a little scared? The BBC i feel is the only non-bias paper in England, that's why i only read this site and not others because its run and written by Utd fans. By that i mean, not one side is praised when they do not warrant it by the BBC.

    Liverpool is on the ascendancy, Utd are still the top side in the world but are being caught. Denial from those within the Utd camp will only hinder your success.

    Winning the league is improbable but faith is a great thing. Its not over until Utd have done what they need to do and 2 tough teams await them while one is fighting for survival. If a team employed long ball tactics, this season may have another twist in the tail.

  • Comment number 98.

    Phil,

    Only if you had waited for one more day, you could have seen the futility of this debate. Man Utd won and Liverpool back to second place. Do not create unnecessary ifs and buts and then debate ad nauseum.

    Btw I am a neutral and love to watch good football from West Brom to Man Utd.

  • Comment number 99.

    What happened when united won the champions league several years ago........there was 2 late goals which ment you won the champions league and i believe that all united fans would defend united on how brilliant they were until the end and blah blah blah. every team gets late winners and mostly the "top 4" and thats the reason they are the "top 4" because they never give up until the whistle. Im a true Liverpool fan and have to agree that we have a had really good season, better than what most people expected, but again united have shown how strong they are and always will be. we could go on all day about how much money people have spent and yes Liverpool have spent a bit, but isnt that football now? money? how much does Ronaldo earn? gerrard? lampard? im not moaning but thats football nowadays, a bussiness!!! Liverpool have play with their hearts........Drogba well i think hes in the wrong game as he should enter in the olimpics as a pro diver. Ronaldo has been amazing once again but goes down quite easily. Being in Finland its hard to see the games and i have to go on what i see in Europe and what i see on the internet. to me its been a very good year for united and everton but also liverpool as they have been able to battle for 1st place for the first time in a very long time. so yeh lets all moan about money.......diving ..........what if gerrard and torres played more together..........if asharvin was signed earlier.. but i think we all need to agree its been a very good year for football and next year should be even better with teams getting stronger and everton and villa making good progress.

  • Comment number 100.

    The first time I posted a comment here I said that the difference between Liverpool + United is that Benitez picked teams not to loose games, Fergie picks them to win them. Now, after 36 games the stats bear me out and the frustration of it is begining to sink in. United now need 4 points from 3 games to retain the title and, if seems likely, they do, then fair play.

    Its all about consistancy over 38 games + picking up points when you aren't at your best and it doesn't matter what order that happens in.
    The thing I want to know and it isn't about ifs and home draws, what caused Benitez to have an Epiphany after the Middlesbrough game and why didn't it happen earlier? Was it because they had won 4 days earlier at the Bernabau ? Did he finally relent to letting them off the leash then?

    If so, I don't get it. They had won at the Nou Camp playing the same European tactics just over a year earlier, so whats the difference?. Since that defeat at the Riverside, we have run out of superlatives for Liverpool but the fact remains, they didnt play like that for the first 6 months of the season so its a case of what might have been.

    I have seen Liverpool win 13 titles in my time including 3 back to back in the early eighties. In that last one, Paisley had announced he was retiring at the end and they seemed to win it at a canter because no one put a late spurt on and put them under pressure like todays team is doing to United. My point is both of them,LFC83 + Utd. now looked jaded toward the end but pulled off what is in truth a magnificent acheivement.

    I say this as a note of caution to those believing already that its a forgone conclusion that Liverpool will win it next season. My biggest concern is the day of judgement looming on July 25th when people who are only interested in profit and balance sheets, not football, will have the biggest say on the immediate(and probable long term)future of the Club. It wont be Benitez and his transfer dealings that will shape things but the Banks.

    Hicks + Gillet are dead in the water and I wager there are parties out there waiting to pick up LFC for a song. But before all you Red Devils become smug at the prospect, look at your own owners and ask when your day of reckoning is coming.

    When it does, and the football gravy train wont run forever, we may get back to a level playing field where both teams wont know where the next big challenge is coming from as it won't be from just Arsenal + Chelsea and the title race becomes really exciting again.

    I still dream of unlikely results over the next two weeks that would make Liverpool champions once more, but pragmatically think it will not happen but runners up will mean nothing.

    First IS first, second IS nothing

 

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