COS Columnist Jonny Carter continues to discuss the enigma that is Mr. Benitez. Part One can be seen by CLICKING HERE.
I found it a little shameful that Rafa was content to excuse the current Liverpool form with an injury crisis. This exemption is lame. Liverpool are not the only club to suffer from injuries and to blame a curse endured by all is disgusting. Many teams have their issues and a brief look at Liverpool’s cross city rivals might suggest a crisis in the true sense of the term. Everton’s budget squad have endured, rant-free, without the long term application of Arteta, Yakubu, or England’s Jagielka …three players that would walk into a Liverpool first team and Everton would gladly have them walk back into theirs. Injuries are not a justified reason for failure.
The infamous beach ball incident robbed Liverpool of deserved points, yet Benítez never asked for an inquest into the game result. There has been precedent for replaying games that have been wrongly influenced by casual refereeing, though Benítez never once reached for the argument. Why not? Because Benítez was content to have the media scrum write column inches and blog based opinion about errant beach balls and not about errant Liverpool performances. Benítez was inferior news to a beach ball scandal and he was just fine with that.
So in the shadow of Liverpool’s worst run of results for a generation the clouds are turning dark. The realisation that Liverpool are way too over dependant on the world class skills of two injured players is starting to raise on the Liverpool support. And even that loyal support are coming to terms with the belief that Benítez has taken five years to build a two man team, and yet he can’t often get the two men in the same team. All the money has bought nothing but a soiled reputation. Claims were false to assume that one victory over Manchester United had alleviated all the Anfield problems and those who suggested so were just misleading themselves. And while the win was merited, a less biased student would recognise the influence of the fixture list. Liverpool rested from Tuesday to Sunday at home while United travelled to Russia and back one additional day later. That fatigue and an excitable referee should explain more than any assumed Benítez wizardry.
The loyalty of the Liverpool fan base is resilient. Despite all the indication and despite all the reminders from opposing fans the Liverpool terraces have remained dedicated to the Benítez cause. They have remained dedicated to the extent where now blame has bypassed the decision-making of a counterfeit manager and skipped upstairs to the reproach of the American owners. True, that Hicks & Gillett have dredged the club through financial turbulence and through the petulance of tabloid gossip to beyond an acceptable standard, but they don’t pick the team.
It’s a short memory that forgets the rather conceited gesture of Benítez to demand full control of the entire club and he even had significant people removed after lingering bouts of communal bullying. But everyone has a boss. The players have the manager, Benítez has the owners, and the owners have the fans. And surely the owners of any business have a right to prepare for the unpredictable future or have a right to strive to improve upon the current equilibrium. It just seems to me that the blame is being levied at the wrong source. Though I now suppose with his inflated recent contract that sacking Benítez is not a viable option. The compensation would deplete the Anfield transfer kitty to empty, and I’m sure Liverpool fans would choose to have Benítez spend the money on nothing rather than not have the money to spend at all.
However, it seems to be the owners who face the discontent of the assembled masses during the Anfield protest march. But shouldn’t Benítez be asked a few pertinent questions? While the Liverpool supporters are unhappy with the errant running of their club by the highest echelons of the hierarchy, is it really justified for sole accountability of the club’s failings, both on and off the field, to be levied at the owners? After all, the Hicks & Gillett opinions, as divided as they are, did not substitute Torres, they don’t buy the players just pay for them, and game days are rarely interfered with beyond sporadic attendance.
The correct origin of blame should be the fans.
The Liverpool fan is an awkward customer with a tendency to view scenarios with skewed integrity. They seem to be marinated in a belief of entitlement, that somehow Liverpool are a bigger, better, more important football club than all others and should be treated with exclusive wonder. The abhorrent Liverpool support have the obnoxious hereditary where they feel like the ambassador to all things football, they talk like they invented the game. The history of football did not start with Liverpool and they would make a few more football friends to recognise that there are many noble football clubs worthy of respect.
The relentless prediction of Liverpool fans to claim this year will be their year is as boring as it is incorrect. Why won’t Liverpool fans just tell the truth? The absurdity becomes intolerable when media pundits and tabloid column writers allow prejudice to slip beyond impartiality and into the realms of nonsense. Supporters predict a Liverpool win, not journalists. And while many were not happy to see Manchester United lift yet more league titles there were plenty of neutrals delirious to see the Liverpool fan disarmed of statistical verbal bile.
While I commend the loyal fan to stand by his team and support their club irrespective of on-field attainment, there is also a limit. And I think that the same fan should also have an obligation to arrest his team’s decline when the time is appropriate. While the Liverpool support continues to defend Benítez with their blinkered allegiance surely the lack of success or lost respect would deem their faith as soiled or foolish.
The rebellious factions are marching for the wrong cause. The fans are to blame for tolerating mediocrity and they are fantasists to claim otherwise. And Benítez is responsible for delivering mediocrity. You shouldn’t blame the owners and you shouldn’t expect Benítez to be remorseful.
One of the most charming elements for the neutral is that occasional victories over Manchester United have NOT redeemed the current Liverpool situation and fans will continue to be deluded to think so. One game cannot ruin a season nor can it define a season and while a win might be momentarily pleasurable, there are always more games to come tomorrow. Problems forgotten if never resolved.
And the sweetest victory for the non-Liverpool fan is that all and sundry know that Liverpool should dispense with Benítez and yet no one wants him to go. The belief, with good foundation, is that while Benítez is in charge of his program Liverpool will remain distant from the successful teams.
From The Writings Of Jonny Carter