Has Rafa Lost the Dressing Room?

Rafael-Benitez-Chelsea-v-Liverpool_2369098

No team has lost 3 of their first 8 games and gone on to win the Premier League. The first decade of the Premier League was a shoot out between Man United and Arsenal (with Blackburn winning one) and the last decade has seen Chelsea buy themselves into the equation. Since Chelsea’s money made an entrance the league has become harder and harder to win, with each dropped point hurting more than before. Last season Liverpool lost only 2 league games and still didn’t win the league. Rafa still thinks Liverpool can win the title. His players performance suggest otherwise.

Cracks began to show in Rafa’s goateed armour last season during his clown like performance in the infamous “facts” rant against Sir Alex. He clearly lost that battle and with it the league title, despite his team twice beating United. He enjoys a somewhat tenuous relationship with the club’s owners, always wanting more money and seemingly not believing he’s spent quite as much as he actually has during his time in England. Torres, Mascharano, Babel and co were not cheap. He sold the glue to his midfield, Xabi Alonso, to Real Madrid, with the Spanish midfielder suggesting afterwards that he’d been badly treated and let down by his Liverpool manager.

Benitez informed all before this season that this was Liverpool’s time to win the league, something they have failed to do since 1990, in the days of the old First Division. Man United matching Liverpool’s record 18 league titles last season would be another reason the fans demand a title win now. Yet his talk has not been matched with performances on the field. They’ve lost 3 times, against Spurs, Villa, and Chelsea. Spurs have started well but have been shown up against title challengers Chelsea and United, with United managing to brush them aside with 10 men. In the Champions League just before the Chelsea lost Liverpool were torn apart by Fiorentina in Italy. They hardly had a kick. Rafa was said to have torn into his under performing players to an extent that surprised many in the dressing room. More cracks.

Evidence of his teams’ performance against Chelsea suggests that his players didn’t listen, or chose not to. Liverpool is a two man team. Gerrard was sloppy and out performed by Lampard and Essien in the middle of the pitch, and Torres was ineffectual, getting no supply and unable to get on the end of any scraps. Liverpool lost more than Chelsea won. They were punished by the strength of Drogba in both goals, first by Anelka and then Malouda, and allowed Chelsea to take control without ever needing to change gear. Gerrard’s lacklustre performance must be most alarming for Liverpool fans.

Benitez has shown a stubborn side in continuing to defend the under performing Lucas, who has become somewhat of a scape goat for Liverpool fans, while at the same time not showing the same support for Babel, who he may be forcing out of Liverpool. As we saw with the selling of Alonso Rafa has his untouchable players and those he doesn’t trust as much.

The truth for Liverpool fans is that they are still living on the memory of Benitez winning the Champions League in his first season. Most will point to that in defence of their manager and ignore the instability he has edged along in the board room and out on the pitch. Yet immediately after that win against Milan Steven Gerrard, Mr Liverpool, put in a transfer request. Fan power convinced him to stay, but did he know then what others are suggesting now?

pic from teamtalk.com

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