Where next for Benitez & Liverpool?
2009-10-21 - Added by
Liverpool made it four defeats in a row against Lyon on Tuesday night, their worst sequence since 1987, defeat against Manchester United on Sunday is now unthinkable for Rafa Benitez and his side.
The Spaniard blamed the 2-1 defeat to the French side on injuries, but Liverpool's squad goes beyond fragile, and the absence of key duo Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres in their last two games has exemplified the Reds' reliance on the pair.
And after Benitez's side were perhaps a little unfortunate in 'beachballgate', defeat to Lyon, who had three first choice defenders sidelined, and especially in the manner with which it came, shows the Spaniard is reeling.
Benitez was set upon by the Kop faithful when he inexplicably chose to replace the constantly dangerous Yossi Benayoun with the consistently dreadful Andriy Voronin with the Reds looking to steal a win in the dying minutes.
Even before his miserable time at Anfield inevitably comes to an end, the Ukranian looks ready made for the lists of the top 10 Premier League flops, strikers that thrive elsewhere, but can't cut the Colman's in England.
And then there was the stubborn Spaniard's decision to play the inexperienced David Ngog from the start ahead of Ryan "rapping is my hobby" Babel - every man and his dog can see that the young Frenchman is simply not good enough.
67 players have gazed longingly at the 'Welcome to Anfield' sign during Benitez's five year reign in charge, while 79 have departed - an incredible stat and one which highlights the former Valencia man's inepititude in the transfers market.
Benitez currently has five decent signings to show for the millions of pounds he has spent in the transfer market during his tenure: Pep Reina, Glen Johnson, Javier Mascherano, Yossi Benayoun and of course Fernando Torres.
Babel could be a fifth, but even at £11 million, Benitez refuses to let the Dutchman have a run in the side, probably through sheer pigheadedness, as it is reported the pair have rowed, preferring the hard-working but insipid Dirk Kuyt.
Having brought the UEFA Champions League to Liverpool in 2005, Benitez has been cut a lot of slack in the four years hence, but that European triumph is fading out of fans' recent memories fast, and they appear to be turning against the Spaniard.
Defeat to United on Sunday would be Liverpool's fifth loss in the Premier League already, surely the watershed number of losses a team can suffer if they hope to win the title, and leave them ten points behind their bitter rivals.
Having risked Gerrard against Lyon, Benitez may well be without his captain on the weekend, while Fernando Torres remains a doubt. With or without the talismanic pair, Liverpool and Benitez can ill afford to lose on Sunday.
Former Red Jermaine Pennant recently accused Benitez of taking the best attributes out of players and turning them into 'robots' - Liverpool fans will be hoping he can rewire them and program them to win, and soon!