Posted: January 19, 2010 by Rob McDonald in Manager Talk, Site News, Team Talk
Tags: , , , ,

As some of you will know I come from a business / management background. I have conceded in the past that my knowledge of the intricacies of the tactical side of the game and foreign players is not quite up there with the like of Paul Tomkins – nowhere near. I didn’t think that Paul would be up for guest posts so I decided to ask my brothers. Both of my brothers are football fanatics and follow the games, teams and players in all the major leagues – as well as both doing well in their english A-levels! It just seemed to fit. Without further ado, this is the first post from my youngest brother Rob…

I grew up in the 1990’s. This attatches various stigmas, for instance I am often derided by my Girlfriend (who is only three years older than me) about TV shows I had no experience of and music I don’t remember. I also happened to grow up in one of Liverpool Football Club’s leanest spells. I guess this means I’m always fully prepared for dissapointment. However, I – like almost every other LFC fan – thought this season would be the season we finally reclaimed our place at the top of the pile.

It all seemed to fit together, the team up the motorway lost their best player and replaced him with mediocrity (as well as seeming to be riddled with debt) and even that lot from London were going to struggle in January down to the African Cup of Nations claiming their best players (see: Essien and Drogba). We had been unlucky last season, or so some would say. Yeah, we lost Alonso but we had gotten the second coming in Aquilani and Johnson; allowing us a stronger right flank that would expose defences we’d struggled to break down last term, meaning we could convert those draws into wins.

Now, we all know the reality, so I’m not going to spout it out verbatim. The lack of squad depth is evident, but to be fair has been harshly exposed by the number of injuries we’ve suffered. A lot of people will happily point the finger at the owners, Rafa or the players in explaining how we wound up in this situation. But as this blog has shown it’s nowhere near as simple as that. Again, I have no intention of repeating what has already been very well expressed.  But a lot of people have to take some shared responsiblity for where we are.

Inspite of all the doom-mongering in the press I am more confident in our finances following Christian Purslow’s recent interview. Some people seem to forget about or neglect the economic crisis we have been operating through and our debt in comparison to Chelsea and Manchester United is a lot more manageable. Regardless of whatever the red tops spout I am pleased with the job Puslow has been quietly doing to date. But I’ll be quite frank in saying when it comes to economics I am at a loss so can’t participate in any great debate about the virtues or problems caused by the club’s ownership, so I’ll say no more.

However, from a footballing perspective under the new ownership better quality signings have been made. We have also transformed behind the scenes and on the pitch in the past 5 years and in Benitez we have the right man at the helm. Regardless of what the press may say, I am proud of the footballing club we have become in the last five years under the stewardship of Rafa Benitez and it is not in my nature to turn my back on someone who has done a wonderful job, nor is it in the heritage of Liverpool Football Club. We have always been patient with our managers, and one as successful as Benitez deserves as much patience as is completely reasonable – and half a bad season isn’t reasonable, in the slightest.

Now, I know what a lot of people will say, they will say: “but last season we got 86 points, we nearly won the title, this season isn’t acceptable”. Beyond the lack of logic in that sentimenet (he took us to that point, why turn our back on him 25 or so games later?) people seem to have a lot of revisionism when it comes to last season – although, I don’t believe it’s controversial to say that had Mascherano, Xabi Alonso, Gerrard and Torres had started more than FOUR games together all season we would have won the title. However, I will also say that there was one single reason for a lot of form last season, and that reason was: Xabi Alonso. And, confusingly, I will also say that there is one reason we were restricted in the way we played and that was: Xabi Alonso. I will go into detail on my perspective on the Xabi Alonso argument in a later post, but last year’s success was entirely garnered on our ability to stifle opponents by controlling the game and dictating possession, and this was perpetually through Xabi Alonso’s metronomic midfield partnership with Javier Mascherano but we never ever hit our full potential last year.

When you consider that we relied on late goals in so many games and the lacklustre performances we put in (both before and after the “Benitez rant”) on so many occasions you can begin to see that last season was down to the tactical nuances of the way the team played, of the way Rafa Benitez’s team played, and not because we had a world class team – yet. With players like Glen Johnson and Alberto Aquilani we can attain the level we need to hit to win the title, I am completely certain of it. But this year has to be considered as a building year. Another building year, I know, but I believe a vital one. We are changing the dynamic of how we play as a team, we are changing the dynamic of how we run as a club, we are completely over-hauling our youth system and we are moving forward at a speed we haven’t in 20 years. I am positive. And I am going to support my team with everything I can tomorrow against Tottenham Hotspur, because at the minute the team looks bereft of confidence and it needs its fans to help them out. I can see the seeds of greatness in our club, they just need some nurturing.



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