Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is rapidly learning that patience in English football is not a very common commodity. Several football pundits are already tearing apart the Spaniard in the wake of Liverpool’s humiliating FA Cup exit to Barnsley on Saturday, and although the major share of the Kop are in favour of Rafa remaining in the managerial seat, ex-Liverpool players are coming out of their shells and blasting Rafa left, right and centre.
Liverpool legend Tommy Smith has severely censured Rafael Benitez for lining an understrength side against Barnsley in the fifth round of the FA Cup and believes that this lack of respect towards the FA Cup has cost the Reds FA Cup progress. Smith, who won the league and UEFA Cup double with the Merseyside way back in 1971, says:
In the programme for yesterday’s game Benitez said cup competitions are always dangerous if you think you can beat teams easily. So why on earth didn’t he put a strong team out against Barnsley?
I should imagine so(Liverpool fans running out of patience). At the end of the day Bill Shankly used to tell us you’re only as good as your last result. How on earth does Benitez think he’s going to win stuff if he puts a second-class team out?
Because Liverpool’s squad is not as strong as I think he thought at the beginning of the season. I don’t think he’s even got a strong first XI.
How could he leave (Jose) Reina, (Steven) Gerrard and (Javier) Mascherano out?
Tommy Smith’s point is valid but Rafa must have been saving those players for midweek’s UEFA Champions League, last 16, first leg clash with Inter Milan at Anfield. Inter Milan are the strongest side in Italy and one of the genuine Champions League contenders and getting something in Milan would be well nigh impossible. Could this be the week in which Liverpool’s 2007-2008 season gets over at last?