COS contributor Donovan Ried conducts an end of season Anfield autopsy.
May of us have our own views on where this season when wrong. Here’s mine
Let me take you back to the end of last season…..
We had a good season in which we ran the old rivals Man Utd close to the Premier League title; and it was time to start making plans for next season….
It was clear to most of the supporters that the strikers we had as back up for Torres, Voronin, Babel, N’gog were simple not good enough, and that it was a priority to find a striker that cloud play not only along side Torres, but if need be upfront by his self….
As we all now know this was never addressed….
We had four short months in which to ship out unwanted players, yet Rafa dragged his feet….
Yes Rafa…. Remember… The man who wanted control of the transfers claiming that Rick Parry was too slow in his transfer dealing…
We also lost both Alvaro Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid so replacements were needed for them both….
Rafa’s first buy was Glen johnson (£17m) in the right back position….
In the mean while we waited on what money we could get from Real of Alonso…
This dragged on, and on, until finally we got some £30m for Xabi Alonso, to be paid in instalments…
We when on to buy Alberto Aquilani (£21m) paid in instalments as a replacement for Xabi Alonso. So we were in affect back to square one. We still needing a striker…
Now why we could not take lets say £20m from Real and Van Der Vaart as a replacement for Alonso I do not know. We could have used the £21m, for Aquilani for a striker. Not say that Aquilani does not look a good buy, just that we needed a striker…. But as a result we were suck with less than adequate back up,as far as back striker when …..
We started this season in the same way as last season…..
Now it is not by chance that you now have so many ex-managers, and players hinting at the negative approach to games that we see under rafa,and while I believe that this team is good enough to win the Premier League I also believe it never will under Rafa…
Under Rafa, until we need to win he will always approach games in a overly cautious manner…..
Almost any manager will tell you Injuries can wreck a season, but playing in the Premier League and being a top four club this should have had a lesser effect on our season than it would have on the Champions League/Europea League challenge Right?
In the premier League you are hardly facing the best europe has to offer in every match and as proven in the past we can still beat the big sides without Torres and Gerrard. Just ask Real, and Man Utd Supporters….. So just why was this season so bad?…
These games Real Madrid and Man Utd both Came in the latter part of the season,when we were pushing for Top spot in the Prem’ and in the Champions League
When there was a need to win every game, where we were un-shackled and allowed to play.
Still in past seasons I feel not enough effort was being made to bring the reserves players through, having one or two on the bench is ok in premier league matches we have effectively won, and are dominating, but you have to give them that 15-20 minutes here and there,instead of a Torres for Babel, why not a Torres for Pacheco or a Dalla Valle, Why not Kuyt for a Amoo or a Bruna?
Why not play and mixture of Sub’s with reserve players in the Carling Cup what better way to give them some first team experience and lift there confidence?…. Yes they are going to lose some games but is that not part of the learning curve?….. and does it not help them towards being ready for the call up to the bench when needed?
For a manager who claims that he has to sell in order to buy, Rafa seems to make very little effort to sell players he deems to have no future at the club, instead seemingly content to let them run down there contract,(Kewell,Voronin) thus sucking more money out of the club, and leaving less for the transfer funds….
The failure to strenghten has cost us no doubt, but he could have done this by give the reserves more of a part to play….
We came up against two very good teams in Fiorentina and Lyon, but it was not helped by how we approach these type of games… we also ways seem to approach them with the “Play not to lose” mentality and often seem to find ourselves needing to win the last three games to qualify (2007-08)
It also did not help that Rafa and LFC did not realise at the time that the second time they played Lyon had they won by 3-1 or better (after being 1-0 up then a win in the last match against Fiorentina, regardless of the score between Lyon and Debrecen would have seen Liverpool through, but instead believe that any win against Lyon and a impossible draw or win for Debrecen against Fiorentina was there only hope. Thus we when 1-0 up and tried to hold on to that narrow lead, needless to say Lyon’s Lopez struck In the 90th minute
Two poor performances against bottom of the Championship strugglers Reading saw us out of the FA Cup…
The Carling Cup….
A loss to a youthful Arsenal side. The big disappointment here was that we only fielded 3 Reserves and Voronin who we knew was not good enough and should not have been here this season
The Europa League….
Well we have all seen what we are capable of especially the first 45 minutes in the second leg against Atletico Madrid when allowed to play un-shackled
Where I truly believe our problems lie is with the manager and the style of football played under him….
As most supports will tell you on our day we can beat anyone. I believe in the majority of the team we have, if allowed to play their game, with the right mix of creative players on the field, played in their correct positions, we are irresistible….
Yes we need one or two more quality players, a Striker and left winger, (I believe Insua is a great Left back). But this “play not to lose” style of football played under Rafa hamstrings us, never giving us the start to a season, or game that we need….
This was evident in the second half of the Atletico Madrid game at Anfield….
The second half we sat back allowing them on to us after almost totally denying them any space and time to play in the first half….
Had this happened in the last 20 or so minutes you could have put it down to tiredness on our part, but no, it happened at the start of the first half and continued through out that half. The only conclusion you can draw was that it was down to what was said at half time…
Now whether Rafa is to stay or not money remains a problem at the moment.
It is all well wish a Rich owner will come in and builds the Stadium and give us sheds loads of money to spend on world class player or that we can sell players like Babel for £18m plus. It is very unlikely….
What we could do though is to first rid ourselves of the deadwood, bringing in some money… Secondly cut the squad size, 25-28 players…. Yes, I have said this all before, but it still remains the best option…..Although this would not have an immediate affected it would help greatly…. We need to start to wheel and deal more. Taking players on loan, offering three, or six month trails to “Free Agents” before signing them, and if necessary, doing so on a one year deal to start… we should also look to pay on instalments on some deals even if we have the cash to pay in full…
A lot of names have been banded about. Here another….
Rodolfo Borrell Academy Under-18s coach