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Liverpool hope for power surge

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Phil McNulty | 23:44 UK time, Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Liverpool's great European nights at Anfield can - according to managing director Christian Purslow - supply him with a surge of energy on a par with being plugged into the National Grid. This was not one of them.

The particular occasion Purslow had in mind was the 2005 Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, so comparisons with an opening group game against Debrecen, Hungary's first representatives in this phase for 14 years, are unfair.

If ever a game needed a few thousand volts shot through it to jolt it into life, it was this undistinguished affair settled by Dirk Kuyt's goal in first-half stoppage time.

This was more power cut than power surge. Even Anfield itself was lacking its usual electricity, with the rare sight of empty seats and a wave of supreme indifference sweeping around Liverpool's supporters at the final whistle.

Liverpool's win was more memorable for milestones than the match itself. It was their 100th win in Europe's elite competition in Rafael Benitez's 300th game as manager.

And yet, for all the failings of a disjointed performance, this was a satisfactory end to a satisfactory week for Liverpool, with Purslow rightly proclaiming the benefits of a new £80m shirt sponsorship deal with investment bank Standard Chartered.

As with Chelsea on Tuesday, the currency that counts at this stage of the Champions League is points not performances. Liverpool's subdued display will not be recalled if they reach the knockout phase, which they surely will.

Dirk Kuyt scores for LiverpoolDirk Kuyt scores Liverpool's winner against Debrecen

A win was what was required to round off a spell where they have reasserted a measure of authority on the pitch with victories over Bolton, Burnley and now Debrecen and flexed muscle off the pitch with the new shirt deal and a positive blizzard of statements of intent.

Of course, when Purslow delivers messages along the lines of: "We're Liverpool. We're not interested in being second best" he is pitching to fans who feel lines of trust have been broken with American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

And when he adds: "I'm not embarrassed to say we are Liverpool Football Club - the most famous football club in the world" then there may be some who might mischievously suggest that one is aimed in the direction of Old Trafford.

It does not take a massive leap of the imagination to hear Sir Alex Ferguson's teeth grinding as some brave soul plucks up the courage to read those words to him.

Time will tell whether more actions will follow these bold statements. There is no bad news in signing such a lucrative deal, but Liverpool's fans will only feel the warm glow of Purslow's words when they see how much of Standard Bank's cash lands in Benitez's lap and how long it takes for foundations to be laid for a new stadium on Stanley Park.

The new deal is a promising starting point and there is a sense around Anfield that the club is finally moving forward again and that there is, although you should whisper this one, a semblance of normality returning after recent boardroom traumas.

There was also renewed talk at Anfield on Wednesday that Hicks has instructed bankers to seek out investment in the Middle East to bolster Liverpool's finances even further.

It was against this backdrop that Liverpool's latest Champions League pursuit began. Benitez admits Liverpool's priority this season is the Premier League, but offer a proud son of Madrid a place in the final at the Bernabeu next May and he might just reconsider.

And the sight of Fernando Torres, the one-time icon of Atletico Madrid, strolling around the Anfield pitch cradling his baby daughter an hour after the final whistle while deep in conversation with another team-mate from the city Pepe Reina, was a reminder that there are special incentives at work in this tournament for Liverpool.

Liverpool fans hold up a giant Rafa Benitez bannerLiverpool fans mark their manager's 300th match in charge with a giant banner

It was hardly an auspicious start against the unknowns of Debrecen, whose delight at simply playing at Anfield was illustrated by members of the club's hierarchy cheering wildly when they won a corner - then producing cameras to record the moment for posterity.

And their spirits were helped by a Liverpool team who struggled for rhythm. Kuyt did well in the role Steven Gerrard has made his own just behind Torres. The captain dropped to a deeper role, but the sooner he is restored to riding shotgun with Torres the better as far as Liverpool are concerned.

Gerrard kept Lucas company in central midfield while Javier Mascherano remained on the bench. The Argentine's season has simply failed to get going and it is to be hoped, for his and Liverpool's sake, that this is a temporary blip and not leftovers from the blocking of a summer switch to Barcelona.

It does not take a long memory to recall that Liverpool have had their struggles in group games in the past before emerging as contenders in the closing stages of the Champions League.

This win, however scrappy, offers early security against the sort of anxiety they have suffered before escaping into the group stage. European giants such as AC Milan, Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid know the dangers Liverpool pose when that happens.

Not a night that will live long in the memory - but the first tentative steps on the road back to Madrid for Benitez.

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Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    It wasn't the most convincing win but we showed that we can still win when we play badly, but somehow Man Utd seem to be the only team that can be praised for it. All top four teams had to scrape through their games and all weren't convincing, but it seems Liverpool are the team to point out.

    p.s Last five years 2 Finals,1 Semi and 1 Quarter Final, but still United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Madrid pop up as favorites!!

  • Comment number 2.

    A bit pointless. I think we where all thinking that. FIRST POST!

  • Comment number 3.

    Don't know what's happening to Gerrard and Torres this season. Last season either one or the other was injured. Now they are both able to play but can't get out of second gear. There is a lot more potential in this side than we are currently seeing.

  • Comment number 4.

    All three of the following games ended in unconvincing 1-0 victories.
    "Chelsea started their quest to claim the Champions League crown that has remained tantalisingly out of reach with a hard-fought victory against Porto at Stamford Bridge." -Phil McNulty
    "Paul Scholes earned Manchester United a hard-fought win at Besiktas in their opening Champions League Group B game."-Mandeep Sanghera
    "Liverpool opened their Champions League campaign in unconvincing fashion with a narrow win over Hungarian champions Debrecen." – Phil McNulty
    Whereas the victories for Man Utd and Chelsea were described rather generously as “hard fought” by BBC writer Phil McNulty (and Mandeep Sanghera too) , his usual barbs are on full display for Liverpool taking every opportunity to devalue the win. You would think that a senior football writer for the BBC would, or should, be able to put aside this sort of pettiness.

    Apparently not.

  • Comment number 5.

    Of course, group stage wins, unless vital must-win games like Olympiacos or Marseille, never matter compared to the big games we win more often than not in the knockout stages. So it's not worth worrying about how we played or who wants to have a little dig at our expense. Liverpool will win the group and the Real business will start.

    The bigger question, even than whether Benitez, Torres, Reina & Riera get to play a final in Madrid is how well the collection of expensively-bought galacticos in that city gel as a team. If it does all come together for them, with a final in their own stadium to try to win an elusive 10th title, Real will be hard for any team to stop.

  • Comment number 6.

    Mascherano hasnt got going? this is great news because he is already blowing everybody else away in the optima stats!!! more research required perhaps.

  • Comment number 7.

    Bit of a slow news day?

    Yes, it wasn't the most convincing of displays, but neither were any other British teams. Had the game been played in exactly the same fashion but 2 or 3 of the other chances gone in then i'm sure you'd be pointing out the lack of quality in the Debrecen team to try and undermine the fact the Liverpool got the 3 points they wanted.

  • Comment number 8.

    Phil I know you tipped Liverpool to win the league. But I think that was a good bit of forward planning so that you can continue to put Liverpool victories down by using that to claim the "non biased moral high ground".
    And with comment number 6 in mind, you seem far too quick to aim barbs at "under performing" Liverpool players when with just the smallest research your point becomes totally invalid.

  • Comment number 9.

    #1 & #4

    The reason United, Arsenal and Chelsea got more praise is that they were either away from home or playing someone difficult. You got an opener against possibly the softest team in the Champions League this season - were at home and struggled to win, had loads of empty seats and an atmosphere that makes a snooker crowd look noisy.

    If you had put on a better performance, you might get better press

  • Comment number 10.

    Just a point on Javier Mascherano - I did my research by watching him playing rather than studying optima stats. Not playing well. Sorry.

    I agree that Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard have not hit their very best this season, but it is early days and both have still made their contributions.

    I still prefer Gerrard playing close to Torres, but at the moment Rafael Benitez feels it is better to play Albert Riera on the left and push Dirk Kuyt into a more central role.

    Personally, I would put Kuyt on the right, Yossi Benayoun on the left and leave Mascherano to fight for a place in central midfield with Lucas when Alberto Aquilani is fit.

    It was interesting to note last night that Liverpool fans appear to be warming to Lucas. He will never be the most eye-catching of players but he works tirelessly.

  • Comment number 11.

    Phil am i right in thinking that the only Arsenal games you have gone to this season Arsenal have lost?

    If thats the case can you not come to any more Arsenal games please.

  • Comment number 12.

    Another boring European match at Anfield. It really is disappointing to see what should be one of our top representatives slugging it out against poor opposition.

    I blame ITV for their pro-Liverpool and Man Utd stance... surely it would be better to see a brilliant attacking team like Arsenal going away to Std Liege who themselves have some great young players. Had goals written all over it and it delivered. It really pains me to hear every other week that Tyldsley chap banging on about how great Rooney and Gerrard are... I reckon he has framed pictures of him by his bedside that he has to kiss before he goes to sleep at night.

    Why do they always show a home game against third-rate opposition rather than take the gamble, show a game away from home and see one of our teams put in a backs-against-the-wall performance, far more exciting!!

  • Comment number 13.

    I agree with the last comment about Lucas' workrate being high ! yes it was as in evidence last night, but he is never going to replace Alonso and have forward vision. I think Benitez might leave Gerrard in a deeper role until Aquilani is ready and see what happens. As for the atmoshpere last night there have been plenty of European nights at Old Trafford, which have lacked atmosphere !!

  • Comment number 14.

    #1
    Aww poor little Scouser, cry me a river. Why would you be favourites over Chelsea, Barca or us? Barca are the champs, we are runners up and Chelsea are better than you. What is your point actually? That because
    you struggled to beat a poor team at HOME we should all bow down and proclaim you favourites? Um sure we will. Enjoy 4th place in the league this year

  • Comment number 15.

    The reason Utd etc. get praised for a "hard fought" victory, while Liverpool get criticised for an unconvincing one is twofold.

    First, Liverpool where playing at home infront of their own fans, not away infront of some of the most hostile and noisy fans in the world.

    Secondly, and more importantly, Utd and Chelsea both played moderately well, and worked hard, Liverpool just didn't look like they were trying. We know they can be a fantastic team, but they just didn't appear to be putting the effort in and there was no commitment, passion or determination about them. In short, no-one seemed to care about the game, the players or the fans.

  • Comment number 16.

    They say the sign of a good team is when they play badly and still win then this is the sign of a great team.
    keep on truckin Raffa

  • Comment number 17.

    Im sure you liverpool fans dont want to hear this but Phil is just telling it how it is.
    Man Utd played away in Besiktas a notoriously hard place to go and get a win.
    Arsenal were again away against Standard Liege an established european side with plenty of european experience.
    Yes Chelsea played at home but the were against porto a recent winner of the champions league who play in it every season.
    Liverpool were playing against some unknowns on their own turf and anyone that watched the game knows that they should have done better. A win is a win but Phil is correct in saying they did struggle to find any sort of fluency in the game.

  • Comment number 18.

    #4: Ha! what a pointless comment... Chelsea-Porto, Besiktas-Man Utd, then Liverpool-Debrecen, all one nils and you wonder why the press was more favourable to Chelsea beating the former Champions League winners and Man Utd coming away from Turkey with a win in a place that is regarded as one of the most hostile and intimidating countries for a visiting team. You had a home game against the equivalent of Darlington. (Why Darlington? i have no idea.) First time ive commented on here but i had to cos u cracked me up!

  • Comment number 19.

    Empty seats at Anfield aren t as rare as you scouse lovings journos make out. If you look at Liverpools attendances only 9 years ago you will see there were more than just a few empty seats for many games at UNFILLED. In the 2000-01 season here s a few examples:

    Fulham 20,000
    Rotherham 29,000
    Man City 36,000

    and this is a succesful season. Also if you watch Liverpool play the likes of Stoke or Fulham you can hear a pin drop for large amounts of the game as you can at ALL top grounds. The media make out Anfield, St James Park and Celtic park are always rocking and it s such a myth.



  • Comment number 20.

    Phil, your Dirk Kuyt picture has the wrong team name in the caption. Weren't Arsenal playing Standard Liege?

    Great blog, will leave my thoughts during my lunch break.

  • Comment number 21.

    3 points were on offer and 3 points were taken.
    Chances were missed (something that you failed to mention Phil) and that can happen to any team on any night.
    With other teams you see analyses like 'the fact that such and such team managed to win without getting to 3rd gear points to their resilience yada yada yada and should sound a warning about what might happen when the team comes together)
    Seriously, united won by a single paul scholes header against a team that were walloped 8 nil (was it) at anfield and you call that win hard fought?
    I think that was extremely lucky, but i dont write for the bbc.

  • Comment number 22.

    I think, following posts 1 and 4, it would be correct to say that Phil McNulty reserves all the special 'praise' for Liverpool.

    That said, as another poster has made clear, United and Chelsea did face tougher games (though they also enjoy better squads - with Mascherano out, we were forced to drop back Gerrard, isolate Torres in a game in which he was being double man-marked, and play Kuyt in a position he will never excel in). Arsenal, for their part, were gifted some more incredible luck - an off-side goal and a goal scored off someone else's knee, to add to the dodgy penalty and the beauty scored by William Gallas' back (such technique) in the previous game.

    In short, I don't feel any criticism of this Liverpool side after a game like that is justified given the circumstances. For a start, Liverpool haven't even replaced Alonso and people are still expecting of them the explosive form of last season (form which only really came about in the second part of the season). Secondly, Liverpool also lost their other core central midfielder for this game, and Gerrard ended up playing even deeper than he was at the first whistle (I saw him just in front of the defenders, covering for some of Lucas' more nervous moments, at around the 75 minute mark).

    And if anyone thinks this side has trouble breaking teams down, I suggest you take a look at the current top scorers list for the EPL. Liverpool have five players in the top 20, or roughly a quarter of that allowance. Give them time, and a player of Aquilani's quality, and they'll start steam rolling teams soon enough. But also give them the respect they deserve, by stopping all this 'crisis'-mongering.

    Last season United played some of the most unconvincing football I've ever seen from supposed 'champions', and yet still won because they can beat the lesser teams 1-0 and scrapped a ton of results. If Liverpool do it, they should be afforded the same praise, or at least should be tarnished with the same brush that the sporting press paints the other top English teams.

  • Comment number 23.

    We all know Mcnulty hates Benitez. Why is anyone suprised by this anymore?

  • Comment number 24.

    The main point has to be that a win is a win, no matter how dire the match. Liverpool have played teams off the park in the past, and still come away with nothing, so I'm happy with the three points, no matter how they came about. We just have to keep the momentum going at Upton Park on Saturday - and if you offered me a scrappy 1-0 there, I'd take that too.
    http://sportales.com/soccer/english-premiership-correct-score-predictions-week-five-190909/

  • Comment number 25.

    "Whereas the victories for Man Utd and Chelsea were described rather generously as “hard fought” by BBC writer Phil McNulty (and Mandeep Sanghera too) , his usual barbs are on full display for Liverpool taking every opportunity to devalue the win. "

    ________________________________________________________________________

    Come off it. Chelsea and United's were actually hard games. Porto is never easy, as they proved at OT last season, and going to Turkey is notoriously difficult.

    Liverpool were at home to the Champions League debutants, the top team in Hungary. They should have pasted them, and you know it.

  • Comment number 26.

    4. Kíllìnghölmê_Clá¥

    The reason why Manchester United and Chelsea's 1-0 victories received a more positive reaction was because a) United were in Turkey (a difficult place to go) and b) Chelsea were against quality opposition (Porto), who won the competition recently.

    Liverpool scraped a 1-0 home win against one of the weakest teams in the competition, who they were expected to thump four or five nil. The apathy from the fans (i.e empty seats) shows that. Apart from a few sparks from Gerrard (who else?) it was a turgid, unimaginative display, against plucky (but poor) opposition.

  • Comment number 27.

    yellowgreenred,
    arsenal didnt cover themselves in glory last nite,i hope you watched the game.
    2ng goal was blatant handball, offside double combo do not know how the referee(s) missed it.
    Bottom line, those two get more airtime because they have managed to win the cup or get closer to the latter stages consistently; so pound for pound; arsenal is not that attractive.

  • Comment number 28.

    "Sir Alex Ferguson's teeth grinding" at Liverpool's managing director trying to convince the world his team still matter?

    Laughing into his porridge, more like.

  • Comment number 29.

    Very poor performance on the whole last night, we hardly got out of second gear for most of the game. Gerrard looked out of place and Torres looked very tired. The crowd appeared to have other things on their minds. However, it was a win and three points. We will need to improve in our other games in this group though. I hope that a good wedge of the 80mil will be going into transfer funds. I still don't trust the Yanks though.

  • Comment number 30.

    Re: post 10.

    Liverpool's current desired (make-shift) formation would certainly seem to be one which included Benayoun and pushed Gerrard forward to the 'hole'.

    There are, however, two problems with this. Firstly, Benayoun is woefully ineffectual on the left and prefers either the right-side (behind Johnson who gives him width) or the 'hole' (behind Gerrard/Aquilani who give him service). On the left hand side, he has to grind out chances on his wrong foot and doesn't enjoy much of the quality service he'll get down the other flank. (I don't know whether you spotted it, but last night the majority of our wide attacking movements came down the right, where Johnson can combine with Benayoun and/or Kuyt. Insua, although very talented, is only 20 years of age, and simply doesn't have the same skill to make that a viable source of goals.)

    Secondly, Mascherano simply *has* to play. Why? Because without him you force Gerrard back into central midfeild, position in which he is expected to both create all the attacking plays and mop up after Lucas. This problem with be easily resolved once Aquilani is fit, as he'll bring energy and experience to the role but also the passes to get Gerrard and Torres fired up again.

    What Liverpool have at the moment is in many respects a make-shift formation, one which is based on the lynchpin in midfield creating play (an Alonso) but which doesn't actually have one... yet. So I'm not surprised their performances have looked disjointed.

  • Comment number 31.

    And what is your point mr Mcnulty. It seems like you just hear things around you and put them on the paper. I dont see any perspective in your article. I am sorry I wasted my time on this.

  • Comment number 32.

    #14 i get your point right up till you said Liverpool would finish 4th?

    I think you forgot Spurs....

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm a Liverpool fan and love reading about them but........ why does Phil McNulty spend so much time covering them?? Or is it just me? Surely there should be an even coverage between teams?

  • Comment number 34.

    Champions League game 1 is all about getting points on the board, especially against this sort of opposition. Liverpool didn’t set the World alight last night but Benitez will not mind one bit. One game, three points. Their European charm will develop throughout the competition as always.

    http://sportales.com/soccer/we-hate-manchester-united-should-we/

  • Comment number 35.

    Given that you can't even get the caption right (Arsenal played Standard Liege, not Liverpool - they played Debrecen) I doubtful that you even watched the game.

  • Comment number 36.

    Mascherano hasnt got going? this is great news because he is already blowing everybody else away in the optima stats!!! more research required perhaps.

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

    ok here you go, masherano is a defensive midfielder(acting as a protector of the defence), no, you have lost half your premier league games conceeding 7 goals in all four along the way, isnt doing the best job by the look of things...............red tinted specs off please

  • Comment number 37.

    The reason United, Arsenal and Chelsea got more praise is that they were either away from home or playing someone difficult. You got an opener against possibly the softest team in the Champions League this season - were at home and struggled to win, had loads of empty seats and an atmosphere that makes a snooker crowd look noisy.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    They are playing in CL for the first time how can you say they are the softest team? Have you seen them play before?

  • Comment number 38.

    I am actually happy with the formation as it is and we should either keep playing one of Gerrard and Masch or Gerrard and Lucas together until Aquilani is fit. Benayoun is in the form of his life (well has carried it on from last season) and if players like Lucas can benefit from a prolonged run in the team then that is great for us. He did have a reasonable game last night. I think that we could also give Voronin a go up front as the little we have seen of him this season (and you may scoff) his interlink play with Benny and Torres has been pretty good (his shortcomings being that sometimes he dawdles on the ball too long) but he will also benefit from a run in the team.

    I have no idea what was going on with the substitutions last night -Aurelio on for Kuyt! What was that all about. And Phil you should really know better than to suggest Benny out on the left we all know that this does not work.

  • Comment number 39.

    I still prefer Gerrard playing close to Torres, but at the moment Rafael Benitez feels it is better to play Albert Riera on the left and push Dirk Kuyt into a more central role.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Once again what is your point in saying this. We are playing Gerrard in CM role because we are waiting for Aquilani. its not a tactical decision.

  • Comment number 40.

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

  • Comment number 41.

    I echo post ones comments, it seems that United are the only side who can play poorly, scrap a win and get praised (Besiktas, Birmingham City anyone?). Liverpool did exactly what they needed to do and hopefully gone are the games (such as Arsenal last year) where we put on an amazing display of attacking football but only draw.

    Torres and Gerrard may not have hit top form at the moment but they are still contributing. Torres played a vital role in helping Yossi get his hatrick at the weekend. Torres may have (only) scored in three of the five EPL games this season but in the boys defence he has had a tough couple of years and is adapting to having a new born baby in the house.

    Liverpool seem to not be able to win; when only Gerrard and Torres score, we rely on them too much and are branded a "two man team". Yet when neither scores for two games and other players such as Yossi and Kyut come to the fold, Torres and Gerrard are under performing and Liverpool cant possibly mount a challenge to the league and CL!

  • Comment number 42.

    Post #4 - Liverpool's is considered an unconvincing win because they were playing a poor team from a poor league who'd never qualified for the CL before, froma contry where no team has qualified for the CL for donkeys years, and they were playign them at Anfield.

    Chelsea played Porto, and Utd had a tough away trip to Besiktas (were I believe Lierpool struggled a couple of seasons ago)

    It's pretty obvious why McNulty is reporting it like this, surely?

  • Comment number 43.

    Aww poor little Scouser, cry me a river. Why would you be favourites over Chelsea, Barca or us? Barca are the champs, we are runners up and Chelsea are better than you. What is your point actually? That because
    you struggled to beat a poor team at HOME we should all bow down and proclaim you favourites? Um sure we will. Enjoy 4th place in the league this year
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    Aww poor Manc.

  • Comment number 44.

    Secondly, and more importantly, Utd and Chelsea both played moderately well, and worked hard, Liverpool just didn't look like they were trying. We know they can be a fantastic team, but they just didn't appear to be putting the effort in and there was no commitment, passion or determination about them. In short, no-one seemed to care about the game, the players or the fans.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I saw all three matches none of the english teams played well if the criteria is putting chances away. If it is about how many chances the team created then Liverpool atleast created five clearcut chances but failed to put them away. Ithinks both ManU and Chelseas created less then that. So what is the argument behind your post?

  • Comment number 45.

    firstly the liverpool fans should stop moaning about McNulty's (absolutely spot on) assessment of this weeks games. Liverpool had a game that the others would probably have won by 3 or 4.
    However in Liverpools defence - it doesnt matter how you win. 3 points in the bag is a good start, no matter how you slice it.
    I notice though the massive praise Arsenal are getting, considering they probably should have been out of the game 10 minutes into the second half - when Liege had 2 golden chances and spurned them. Arsenal were poor and lucky they had the most generous of assistant refs for their equaliser. Against a better side they would have been beaten 5 or 6! Liverpools performance although not convincing, was far more convincing than Arsenals!

  • Comment number 46.

    I am very surprised some here think I have been over-critical of Rafael Benitez and Liverpool. I could not find a single Liverpool fan who thought they were anywhere near their best - but they agreed with me that the three points were all that mattered. It was a case of job done.

    Liverpool occasionally have troubles in group games, but they got the win and I see them qualifying for the group stages with ease - and then being a major threat in the latter stages.

    Alberto Aquilani was in very good spirits at Anfield last night, and Benitez is clearly counting on him to make a difference later.

    I believe Liverpool are an entirely different proposition when Steven Gerrard plays just off Fernando Torres. He is hardly wasted where he is - how can he be when he possesses such quality? - but he is even more influential further forward.

    And on the Anfield atmosphere, I have rarely heard it so subdued in Europe in recent times, but to be brutal it was not a game to get the pulses racing.

    Just one more wide-ranging question. Is the group stage of the Champions League in danger of becoming too predictable? Is it a case of supporters simply waiting for the knockout stage and hoping to get games against the likes of Debrecen out of the way?

    And finally for now...To Andrei Arshavin-Makes scoring four goals at Anfield look "Simples!"...your research is correct - Arsenal have lost on both occasions I have watched them. But I have seen Arsenal win plenty of times though so cut me some slack, as Mark Hughes would say.

  • Comment number 47.

    21. At 09:49am on 17 Sep 2009, masaimtdr wrote:

    3 points were on offer and 3 points were taken.
    Chances were missed (something that you failed to mention Phil) and that can happen to any team on any night.
    With other teams you see analyses like 'the fact that such and such team managed to win without getting to 3rd gear points to their resilience yada yada yada and should sound a warning about what might happen when the team comes together)
    Seriously, united won by a single paul scholes header against a team that were walloped 8 nil (was it) at anfield and you call that win hard fought?
    I think that was extremely lucky, but i dont write for the bbc.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Liverpool were beaten by Besiktas in Istanbul the same season..

    http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/spielbericht/83356/besiktas-istanbul_fc-liverpool/spielverlauf/index.html

    Its good that you don't write for the BBC

  • Comment number 48.

    Just going back the first comment by G-Force-Gerrard...

    I think the main reason why liverpool remain behind the likes of Man United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona is that although in the past 5 years they have 2 finals, a semi and a quarter final the rest are up there and winning things.

    In the last 5 years Liverpool have won the European Cup and an F.A. Cup as well as having another final, a semi and a quarter.

    In contrast...

    Man United have won the European Cup, 3 Premier Leagues, 2 Carling Cups, the World Club Cup along with another European final, and a semi.

    Chelsea have won 2 Premier Leagues, 2 F.A Cups, 2 Carling Cups as well as having a European final, and another semi final.

    Barcelona have won 2 European Cups, 3 La Ligas, 1 Copa Del Rey, (are bound to win the World Club Cup), have also had a European quarter final and a semi final since then.

    Real Madrid, although they haven't hit the heights in Europe as they should have won they have won silverware at home, including back to back La Liga titles in 2007 and 2008. Also when you spend around £200 million on the best players in the world you get noticed.

    Liverpool have also lost one of their most influential players to Real Madrid as well and haven't really replaced him!

    As good a chance that Liverpool have in all competitions this season (depending on which one Rafa takes as priority) I think the facts speak for themselves when the bookies name their pre competition favourites.

  • Comment number 49.

    Liverpools new top guy is as sad as Garry Cook at Man City. Yes United have fans all over the world like Liverpool and other top teams but the majority of people of in mcr supprt United and honest city fan would accept that. City with their wacky posters & murals and THIS IS OUR CITY campaign yet they didn t even sell out for the recent Arsenal game despite all their new players and riches. All citys local fans will swell the ground against Fulham in the carling cup to around 20,000 at vastly reduced prices whereas United will have 40-50,000 paying sadly full price but still the city P R machine tries to carry on their little myths.
    Liverpool have a great and proud history but claiming to be the biggest club in the world because of website clicks is not part of the that Mr Purslow.

  • Comment number 50.

    Nonsense aside (how many people who are putting down Debreceni had actually seen or heard of them before last night? Thought so), this was a not-unusual start to the CL campaign for Liverpool. They've started slowly before, they'll no doubt do it again.

    The simple fact is that there are clubs, managers and fans that would kill for Liverpool's European pedigree, some of whom have been trying for decades and with far more resources at their disposal.

    Phil, you're right when you suggest that Fergie will be grinding his teeth, especially given that, for all Utd's undoubted success, Liverpool walk in and trump them with the biggest shirt-sponsorship deal in history.

    And as for the game itself; Gerrard and Torres were well off their usual standard (Gerrard especially, IMHO), Kuyt yet again silenced his critics with a poach that Michael Owen used to thrive on when he was worth £50K a week, and the star of the show last night was undoubtedly Lucas, who worked his guts out, didn't put a foot wrong and is repaying his manager's confidence with some excellent performances and, more importantly, consistency - everything that Benitez said he would give once he'd properly acclimatised to the country and the English game.

    Bigger and better sides await, and Liverpool, as they ususally do, will rise to the occasion - in a month's time, nobody will care about this performance, just the points.

  • Comment number 51.

    21. At 09:49am on 17 Sep 2009, masaimtdr wrote:

    3 points were on offer and 3 points were taken.
    Chances were missed (something that you failed to mention Phil) and that can happen to any team on any night.
    With other teams you see analyses like 'the fact that such and such team managed to win without getting to 3rd gear points to their resilience yada yada yada and should sound a warning about what might happen when the team comes together)
    Seriously, united won by a single paul scholes header against a team that were walloped 8 nil (was it) at anfield and you call that win hard fought?
    I think that was extremely lucky, but i dont write for the bbc.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Liverpool were beaten by Besiktas in Istanbul the same season..

    http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/spielbericht/83356/besiktas-istanbul_fc-liverpool/spielverlauf/index.html

    Its good that you don't write for the BBC

  • Comment number 52.

    #12 and #27

    I think the real reason that ITV more often than not show Man U and Liverpool is because they, possibly rightly, believe that those teams have more fans and thus for the purposes of generating advertising revenue it is something they will do.

    Of course, they are falling into the same self perpetuating trap that Sky do and this inevitably harms competition in the long run.

    Put simply, in a level competition, all teams should be given the same air time. That way, each team has an equal chance to attract fans.

    By putting the same teams on each time, these teams are more likely to attract more fans, rather than the other, less promoted teams. Then, with more fans, that tv station is even more likely to show that team again and so the cycle continues.

    The same with Sky, but possibly more blatant. A team that is shown on Sky is paid an appearance fee. More than £500,000 I believe. Anyway, clearly the top teams are shown the most, which gives them more money, which means they are more successful and thus get shown the most. The same cycle.

    What Sky should do is show each team the same number of times. In the long run, this would create a much more level playing field and, it follows, more competition which would increase the brand of the Premier League as a whole, rather than just certain teams.

    Anyway, that's all I have to say about that.

  • Comment number 53.

    Liverpool scraped a 1-0 home win against one of the weakest teams in the competition, who they were expected to thump four or five nil. The apathy from the fans (i.e empty seats) shows that. Apart from a few sparks from Gerrard (who else?) it was a turgid, unimaginative display, against plucky (but poor) opposition.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Did you even watch the game.... I guess you just learnt how to use a dictionary and use adjectives randomly

  • Comment number 54.

    #32

    Haha, too true mate, that would be funny indeed :)

  • Comment number 55.

    Top priority was to get a win under our belt so job done. My biggest concern however continues to be a bench which would struggle to get a game in many top half of the table prem teams (Mascha aside). Bringing on Babel as plan B is never going to turn a game. I'm quietly optimistic that with Aquilani orchestrating things from the middle and Gerrard pushed up behind Torres we can then take on all comers. The fear remains that with either Stevie or Torres becoming injured then we're goosed!

  • Comment number 56.

    Phil to quote your comment "Just a point on Javier Mascherano - I did my research by watching him playing rather than studying optima stats. Not playing well. Sorry."
    Your research didn't stretch to the point that he is only coming back from injury which surely would affect any players ability to play "well" if not actually preventing him from playing at all.
    It has been mentioned by anti Liverpool posters about the empty seats at Anfield last night. It is obvious that they were not paying attention as the commentator explained that the empty seats were down to Debrecen not taking up their allotted quota of tickets.

  • Comment number 57.

    Morning folks - the incorrect captioning of the Dirk Kuyt picture above was noted and has now been changed, sorry for the error.

  • Comment number 58.

    all english teams were quite unconvincing really, but at least they all got the three points and a winning start their champions league campaign.

    its still too early for liverpool, they're missing xabi alonso quite a lot and i don't see the reason for rafa benitez playing lucas. well, there's a reason there's no one else.

    http://wdkf.co.uk/

  • Comment number 59.

    To all those who are questioning the subject of Phil's blogs, he stated a week or so ago that he is blogging on the match he has been to. Therefore, I am guessing that he was at Anfield last night.

  • Comment number 60.

    Come on guys where are all the comments?

  • Comment number 61.

    Looks like we're back to the ridiculous wait for the moderators to pull their fingers out.

  • Comment number 62.

    Liverpool were awful, no cutting edge against an extremely average side, gerrard running around a lot, as usual, but producing very little (also as usual)

    They'll do well to get any away points in the CL at this rate, and I can see them dropping them at home in this, the weakest group of the lot.

    I'm trying to find a bookmaker that will give me odds on Benitez getting the sack before the end of the season. I predict Liverpool will finish 6th in the Premier League and be out of Europe before Christmas.

  • Comment number 63.

    We just aren't convincing this season at all. There's no directness that we saw last season. I know people keep harping on about it, but Alonso is a massive loss.

  • Comment number 64.

    Hear we go again. A moderation queue of an hour!

    Same points as yesterday then Phil. Perhaps the BBC might like to service it's customers with either some information about this or they might like to just get on with it!

  • Comment number 65.

    Phil the reason there is such a back lash on here is to do with the fact its one of the few places liverpool fans can air their discontent about the media coverage we get. If you look at what Rafa has put up with in his time. For example he guided a team last season who only play the two players who they so "rely" on together about 20 times in the PL, to second place with a squad most people will agree is weaker overall than both man u and chelsea, to second place. also last season he made less changes per match than SAF but i didnt hear Fergi criitised for it. This summer his net spending is about 0 but he is expected to do better, and now we come up against a team who were up for the occasion, played above themselves and were discplined and get slated for it when nam u and chelsea made a similar hash of what should also have been walkovers, teams come out and make things difficult sometimes for a number of reasons, this lot were in the match of there lives on tellivision and they responded.
    Basically cut us a break.

  • Comment number 66.

    Nice summation Phil, not a great win, not even a good win, but a win. Torres looks out-of-sorts, Gerrard wasn't particularly helpful, Mascherano was on the bench, Aurelio was making a (nother) comeback from injury, N'Gog was missing and we've still got Alberto Aquilani and Dan Agger to return to the set-up in the next month. So I would venture that the squad is in as bad a shape as it's going to be at any time this season, but we're still picking up points against teams who may well have claimed a point at Anfield in the past. I would also like to mention that one of our starlets is in action tonight against Everton, Kristian Nemeth who now is considered a starter for AEK Athens could well return and make a big contribution to nights like this once his loan period is up and the same goes for couple of other high profile youth/reserve players who look like bearing some exotic fruit in the next 12 months, among them I include Martin Kelly, Stephen Darby, Daniel Ayala, Daniel Pacheco, and Christopher Buchtmann. And we don't talk up youngsters at Anfield unless they match the previous standards, and that's a pretty high bar.

    So, all in all I think times are looking up at Anfield and though results like last night are frustrating they should not be considered as overly concerning at this stage. We were poor, but I don't believe we can play any worse, and we still claimed the three points and never really looked in trouble.
    I don't think the ITV commentary team help in this respect though, the nasal tones of Clive Tyldesly tend to dissect anything to death, resulting in a simple 5 yard pass being scrutinised and then being attributed to 'Rafas zonal marking' or similar. With commentators like Clive it's like watching a Disney cartoon with a soundtrack from a John Carpenter film.

  • Comment number 67.

    I am in the minority of Liverpool fans who'd rather win the Champions League than the Premier League. It is the ultimate competition, and for everyone winning Premier League titles year in year out (Man United) the league can be a means to an end sometimes. There is nothing bigger, nothing that gets you more recognition and nothing more exciting than winning a Champions League and with the recent financial surge through the club, it would provide a massive boost to the banks that are currently funding Liverpool for the club to win it again, and keep up their excellent record in the competiton.

    As for the group stages, they are well past their sell by date. We know which two teams should go through in almost every group. The games are usually a precession and dull. The groups were entertaining when it was a champions only affair as you had some very good fixtures. But the only champions in our group are Debrecen, the worst side! Bring back straight knockout all the way through please UEFA, and bring back excitment. The indifference, the apathy towards the first half of the European season would then be gone.

  • Comment number 68.

    I agree that the CL group stage is rather predictable and it does take a large sting out of the excitement of European Nights.
    I'm a big fan of making it into a straight knockout competition from the start as it would retain the passion and the viewing figures from September to May each year, something that they so clearly do not currently enjoy.
    Or, if we are to continue with this group stage charade, then I'd like to see UEFA change the rules so that away wins are worth more than a home win.

  • Comment number 69.

    WHY ARE WE WAITING?

    WHHYYYY ARE WE WAITING?

    WHY ARE WE WAIIITING

    FOR LAAAA - ZEEEEEEE - MODS?

  • Comment number 70.

    Phil- Why are you surprised that EVERY article you do on the big four degrades into a Liverpool vs Man Utd fans clash? It must drive you insane!

    I'm a Liverpool fan, and I think your article is spot on mate. Liverpool were not in top gear, but got the 3 points and that's what matters. I was in Besiktas when Liverpool visited- talk about an atmosphere! It's hard enough to be an away fan in all that, let alone an away player- so yes, I'd agree that Man U's game was a harder victory- but I do wonder with them travelling and playing so late at night how much it will effect their game with City- especially as City have had a week off (personally I think it's got draw written all over it)?

    As for Chelsea, a good win in poor conditions, and again, they have to play a rested Tottenham side who always give a good account for themselves against Chelsea.

    I'm sure ITV will show an equal number of games to represent each English team in the Champions league this year, so I wouldn't worry about that.

    As for Gerrard- I really liked the formation last night- I'd swap Lucas for Mascherano and that would be perfect until Aquilani is fit. Lucas is just too slow (in speed and his footballing brain) but it was good to see the fans getting behind him last night. Kuyt does a good job in the Gerrard role- he is a striker after all.

    Torres is my worry at the moment. He seems to be getting crowded out every time he gets the ball and I think it's starting to get to him. If we'dve bought Kenwyn Jones to batter the defence Torres would get so much room he'd be unstoppable. As it stands though, it seems to be him creating the space for the rest of the team (which is fine, as long as the rest of the team is scoring when they get their chance)

    Anyway, great blog Phil- just sorry about the inevitable North West slagging match...

  • Comment number 71.

    He will never be the most eye-catching of players but he works tirelessly.
    ------------------------------------
    I could run around on a pitch during a game non-stop. Doesn't make me a good footballer though. As a neutral I think Lucas is rubbish he gives the ball away too much and doesnt seem to have any awareness of where other players are. Not a premiership player in my opinion.

  • Comment number 72.

    Good to see Liverpool grind out a win when their best players aren't playing to their potential. Football is a funny game and as many people know, underdog teams tend to play a style of football that top class teams find hard to break done, thus i think Liverpool should be given more credit for their win. Plus a win is a win no matter how scruffy or unsatisfying.

  • Comment number 73.

    Phil, I've found your blogs an interesting perspective on games but you've never gonna win. Liverpool fans are complaining of bias yet you were singing the praises of their team a few weeks ago. What makes the game great is the fickleness of us fans. United looked brilliant last weekend yet were misfiring at Burnley a couple of weeks before and not very fluent. We should be pleased that all four English representatives had wins, good, bad or hard fought, a good draw for Rangers and look forward to the weekend's clashes. And why do some people get so het up about not being favourites for a competition. Play some good, consistent, exciting football and you might get talked about in glowing terms but last night wasn't one of them

  • Comment number 74.

    I can't believe the comments from the scouse. Yesterday all the comments were how we(United)struggled to get a 1 nil win in Turkey whilst they beat them 8 nil. Are they really so ignorant to forget their result in Turkey 2 weeks earlier where they LOST 2 1... Last night was very pleasing to watch, Torrez doesn't look happy, there was no atmosphere what so ever. Happy days. Yes they will get to the knock out stages but their recent European record doesn't show the huge amount of luck they had to get there.

  • Comment number 75.

    And what's all this 'Liverpool struggled to beat' Debreceni?

    No they didn't - they were all over them like a rash!

    The only thing they suffered from was sloppy finishing - rather like last season when, if you remember, they finished highest scorers in the league.

    Some people are so desperate to have a go at Liverpool it's funny.

  • Comment number 76.

    To be honest, I think the only noise you would hear coming from Old Trafford would be howls of laughter.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    And when he adds: "I'm not embarrassed to say we are Liverpool Football Club - the most famous football club in the world" then there may be some who might mischievously suggest that one is aimed in the direction of Old Trafford.

    It does not take a massive leap of the imagination to hear Sir Alex Ferguson's teeth grinding as some brave soul plucks up the courage to read those words to him.

  • Comment number 77.

    Kíllìnghölmê_Clᥠ- I'm a Liverpool fan and wasn't convinced by last night. The reason I think Chelsea and Man Utd's wins were clased as hard fought, whereas ours was unconvincing is related to the oposition. Besiktas and Porto are seasoned Champions League campaigners, whereas hardly anyone has heard of Debrecen. As a Liverpool fan I am a little worried about our performances this season. This group is not going to be easy for us unless we start improving. Lyon and Fiorentina are decent sides.

  • Comment number 78.

    Good Morning all.

    Hovering Gooner here (hehhe)

    well done the Pool

    and erm...Arsenal Rock ( just thought I would sneak that one in )

    shine on everyone.

  • Comment number 79.

    You are wide of te mark with a number of points in this blog.

    Firstly, I am slightly concerned that you judged Mascerano's form on the basis of a ten minute cameo appearence at the end of a low key, routine, one nil victory!

    Also, there is a very good reason we have dropped Gerrard further back. When we played Torres and Gerrard up top early this season they where isolated in the absence of the masterful Alonso. Gerrard is the only player we have fit atm who can link the play, dictate affairs and create openings. He is tplayign a deeper position out of necessity, not choice and I thought that would be obvious to you!

    Finally, I should add that Fell we need to strengthen. We are not holding the ball in advanced positions long enough for my liking. Torres is chasing a lot of lost causes and looks frustrated. Another top class striker should be top of the shopping list - Benitiex clearly wants one it was just unfortunate that Robbie Keane has such little impact. A magician in midfiled may also be required, if as I suspect Aquilani fails to take on the mantle that the sublime Alonso has left.

  • Comment number 80.

    I've seen prople call Phil pro-Liverpool, anti-Liverpool, pro-Utd, anti-Utd,pro-Chelsea, anti-Chelsea. Maybe people don't like what he says on occasions but it's his opinion.

    Torres has looked off the pace but has 3 goals, so, good in a way. He's been playing football without a break for over 2 years now, so little wonder. Yes, Liverpool were flat but never looked like losing. The fans rarely get going at Anfield when they're expecting a procession, that's true of many grounds. This seems to transmit to the players and results in shooting on sight or overplaying it. That's why these games can be tough. Expect a much better performance from the European away machine(where haven't they won?) in Florence. I don't know why people get so worked up, it was a nothing game and the 3 points are in the bag. Job done. Maybe not convincing, but certainly not traumatic.

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • Comment number 82.

    Torres and Gerrard may not have hit top form at the moment but they are still contributing. Torres played a vital role in helping Yossi get his hatrick at the weekend. Torres may have (only) scored in three of the five EPL games this season but in the boys defence he has had a tough couple of years and is adapting to having a new born baby in the house.
    -------------
    Adapting to having a new born baby in the house? Thats a new one. Phil just said it as it is. He is not criticising Liverpool. Why don't Liverpool fans get this? If anybody on this board says that he or she didn't expect a hiding for Debrecen then they are lying. I for one expected 4-0 or 5-0

  • Comment number 83.

    I cant understand it. It seems so obvious to me. Whilst we don't know what Aquilani will bring us, play Gerrard in Alonso's old role, which he can cover perfectly, next to Mascherano. Benayoun plays behind Torres, Kuyt on the right, Riera or Babel on the left.
    Rafeal I love and support you without question, but this fascination with Lucas??? He would struggle to keep his place in a mid table side, I'm sorry.
    Yes it's not where Stevo is poss at his best BUT he will be the first to do whatever is best for Liverpool. Yossi can break down teams that have parked the bus, which is what we lack half the time. Once we can see what Aquilani brings, then Stevo can go back playing behind Torres.

    Simples.

  • Comment number 84.

    Benitez has dined out on the champions league final appearances for far too long.
    The man has spent 180 odd million in the time he has been there and in the main he has spent it badly.

    Lets not forget Carrgher and Gerrard were two players he inherited and the Liverpool squad is still the weakest of the top 4.
    Both Man city and Spurs arguably have squads of similar (if not greater) potential.

    Benitez does get his tactics right in Europe but it may well be that he needs to keep doing that to stay in a job.

    If a credible premier league challenge fails to materialise Liverpool fans should be asking some serious questions.
    Will another run to the champions league semi-finals be consolation for another poor league season?

  • Comment number 85.

    Re: 46.

    You are indeed correct to defend the tone of the article, and by all means criticise the performance of Liverpool, but as many have pointed out: this is not an issue of balance within the text, it's an issue of balance on the website (that is, between articles about Liverpool and other top four teams).

    Generally speaking, other English teams do not receive the same criticism on the BBC, particularly United, which in spite of a series of unconvincing displays this season and the last, are regularly excused of poor performances with the inexplicable (and lamentable) phrase 'they ground out a win like champions'. Why can't Liverpool do this? Why can't a team that is suffering significantly from injuries in the centre of its midfield (an important position if ever there was one) be excused the occasional 'scraped' victory?

    The fact is, people seemed to have become so used to the Scousers battering teams 4-0 or 5-0, they think the world ends when they win a game 1-0. That last season United won the entire Premier League doing just that should tell you something: teams understandably go through blips of performance, especially during the start of the season, and injuries affect both attacking and defensive displays.

    As someone who watches every single Liverpool game, I can say with some confidence that last night is not even approaching the beginning of a 'crisis'. We played a team that flooded the midfield, gang-tackled all our attacking players, and resorted to hoofing long balls over our own midfield to create their chances. It was this team's first match in the Champions League proper, and they worked their socks off in the same way that Burnley did against United when stealing that recent (memorable) victory, or Hull had against Arsenal a year or so back.

    What this suggests is little more than the sheer power of will to perform when placed, so to speak, on the centre stage. Many of the Debreceni players will never again see the light of a Champions League group stage, and are of course likely to make things difficult for their opponents merely by closing everything and anything down. But it also suggests just how fine the margins are between a convincing victory and a defeat - had just one of our (many) chances gone in, or one of the creditable penalty chances been awarded, you now would be writing about the 'comfortable victory' Liverpool had.

    What is more, the likes of Sky sports news would not be running a story claiming (as it has today) 'Benitez defends misfiring Reds', when the last I checked Liverpool had actually *won* their game and got just the same points and goal difference as all the other top English teams. What I and whole lot of other Reds would like, in sum, is more balance in the way in which other teams are reported - criticise Liverpool by all means, but tarnish the other teams with the same brush as and when the scoreline (or performance) requires it.

  • Comment number 86.

    It has been mentioned by anti Liverpool posters about the empty seats at Anfield last night. It is obvious that they were not paying attention as the commentator explained that the empty seats were down to Debrecen not taking up their allotted quota of tickets.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I'm not surprised, if i had to sit among all the Scouse fans, which is where there were plenty of empty seats, then i wouldn't turn up either.
    I have been embarrassed at Old Trafford when we have no atmosphere but it just shows the 'great European' nights at Anfield are not always that great either. And to all those who didn't turn up, looks like they made the right choice.

  • Comment number 87.

    "It does not take a massive leap of the imagination to hear Sir Alex Ferguson's teeth grinding as some brave soul plucks up the courage to read those words to him."

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

    It doesn't take much imagination whatsoever. Doesn't mean it's even close to likely. How would such a comment make anyone even slightly upset? SAF would regard it with humour and the knowledge that being famous doesn't win you anything in particular.

  • Comment number 88.

    Phil I have been on this for more than three years so you can't keep moderating my posts. Robbo don't do that.

    Anyway, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal played tougher Opposition - FACT
    Debrecen will not even win what you call the Blue square league. That's why we all were disappointed when it ended 1-0 with a goal that wasn't even convincing. I bet they are celebrating in Hungary because of the score line. Whether the Liverpool supporters like it or not, They were flat yesterday and they got away with it because of the opposition.

  • Comment number 89.

    its good to see the Moderation has been speeded up or are we all just slow readers? (lol)

    I am available should staff shortages be an issue at the beeb and would like to mention i am very methodical in my approach to my work.

    My character is second to none and have no previous convictions that would prevent me from taking up a position of trust.

    so grab me while you can .

    shine on everyone.

  • Comment number 90.

    Lucas - if Fans are happy with a "not the prettiest on the eye" player, can I plead a case that anyone who can read the game & run round lots fits this category.

    Many young English players may not be 'Ronaldo's' or 'Messi's' but do have bags of energy & common sense. If splitting up play is all that is required then this is an easy answer to getting a young British player through the Youth system & into the squad / 1st team. It's cheap & also satifies the new quota system Benitez is criticizing. Plus, it means that the team doesn't lose another player to International duty regularly.

    Why is this so hard for Benitez to comprendez?

  • Comment number 91.

    if you were on the liverpool team and you were playing against debrecien, would you give 100 per cent effort? probably not. did liverpool get the three points? yes. enough said

  • Comment number 92.

    Liverpool ain't winning anything important this season. The loss of Alonso is too great Real Madrid champions league. Chelsea premier league. Liverpool/Arsenal/Man C/Man U to fight it out for Carling and FA cups.

  • Comment number 93.

    Liverpool were at home to the Champions League debutants, the top team in Hungary. They should have pasted them, and you know it.

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


    Yeah, an English side has never been made to work hard at home to a Hungarian side before... oh wait.

    The Hungarians know their football, they closed Johnson out brilliantly and blocked the midfield (which is where we were focussing on our play, with Yossi running inside, kuyt playing central and Gerrard not roaming) so we were made to stutter, failed to find our rhythm and ultimately didn't take our chances. Should have won comfortably regardless, but at least we won... and without relying on cheating for the second ECL game in a row (one for the gunners there ;p).

  • Comment number 94.

    53. Shahamat

    "
Did you even watch the game.... I guess you just learnt how to use a dictionary and use adjectives randomly"

    Yes, I watched the game and stand by my opinion. Liverpool scraped home against one of the weakest teams in the competition.

    And I assure you that I learnt how to use a dictionary a long time ago. I'm sorry if you thought I was using 'random adjectives' when I used the words 'turgid', 'unimaginative' and 'plucky' but I think they were pretty accurate descriptions. I shouldn't really have to dumb it down, should I?


  • Comment number 95.

    It is now 12:53 and some posts from an hour ago are still awaiting moderation ! Why is this? How can we engage in snappy debate when 20+ post are queued up?
    You can post on Jacqui Oatleys blog immediately, doesnt make any sesnse does it?

    Have to agree with some of the posts in relation to the "Anfield Myth" . It seems to me that the crowd only gets noisy when Sky ot ITV are in town for European games.
    I watched the Villa game on ESPN and you could hear camera shutters going off it was that quiet.

    The number of empty seats might be one of the reasons behind the Americans reluctance to build a 60 000 stadium. If you cant fill 43 000 imagine how empty a 60 000 would look?

    IronJaw - dont you worry about our match against Man City. Late kick off? Blimey it was all of 2 hours later. Rio, Sheasy, Fletch, Giggs, Berba were all rested, Rooney only played an hour. We can have no excuses.

  • Comment number 96.

    Was this the "confident" liverpool you were waxing lyrical about earlier in the week Phil?

    Any chance you write an article on someone other than Liverpool or United?

  • Comment number 97.

    To all of you crowing about how United had a 'tough' fixture away to Besiktas, you've obviously got very short / selective memories, or you only watch Finals.

    This was the team Liverpool beat EIGHT nil a year or so ago, but as soon as United play them it's a 'tough' fixture.

    Now start ranting about how playing them away is a totally different proposition, and makes a team that gets thrashed 8-0, suddenly World beaters.

    Unbelievable.

  • Comment number 98.

    So many journalists and fans assert, now, that Gerrards best position is playing off Torres. It was, however, Rafa Benitez who first played Gerrard in this way. Initially he was criticised for playing only one striker, and leaving Liverpool with limited scoring options. Apparently it was imperative that we play Robbie Keane alongside Torres and drop Gerrard back into a deeper role. Funny how things work out. That said, Rafa probably could'nt write a decent blog.......

    It is strange how Liverpols win is unconvincing, while United and Chelseas were hard fought. I think there is perhaps a sense that Liverpool will ultimately dissapoint, whereas United and Chelsea will ultimately deliver.
    I suppose that this stems from our failure to secure a premiership title. Until that happens, I doubt if perceptions and expectations will alter.

  • Comment number 99.

    I've missed blogs like this. Not for the content - indeed I haven't even read the whole article, but for the ever predictable Liverpool fans biting at the bait in their numbers! Brilliant. And yes, a 1-0 win against Champions League novices at the so called fortress Anfield really does suggest you should be favourites. You'll walk the league too (as usual)!

  • Comment number 100.

    #14

    4th place? There are five better teams than Liverpool.

    Europa league and a good run in a cup will be the aim for next season.

 

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