Over the worst – or the tip of the iceberg?

Posted: January 31, 2010 by mcdonaldtaf in Manager Talk
Tags: , ,

There’s no getting away from it is there? It’s been a difficult time. However, our recent run would seem to indicate the worst is over, while backing up the theory that injuries and lack of form have played a key component of this tumultuous season.

We’re 24 games into this season and if you take the progress so far in blocks of 6 games our points % has been 67%, 39%, 44% and 78% (75% was needed to win the premiership last season). I don’t need to put those results into a graph for you to a) see the dip, or, b) see that we are now recovering. In fact we have picked up more points in the last 6 games than at any other point in the season. We’ve also kept 5 clean sheets and only conceded 1 goal in 540 minutes of premiership football – a clear indicator that our defensive lapses could well be a thing of the past.

There have been other pluses along the way as well. Lucas has started to mature into a far better player than most expected last season, while other fringe players like Kyrgiakos and Degen have played a part in our recent turnaround and youngsters N’gog and Insua have filled in admirably. Sometimes we expect too much too soon from new players (or even players coming back from injury). Different country, culture, league and styles of football and yet at times we expect to plonk a player on the pitch and wait for magic from their first touch. While the likes of Babel continue to frustrate, patience has clearly paid dividends with Lucas and Kyrgiakos.

There seemed to be a full armoury of ammunition to throw at Rafa about his signings only a month ago. Yet despite him having to shop at the charity shops and not Harrods he has once again delivered the goods, or is certainly showing signs of being able to. The Greek has been an immovable mountain of late, while Lucas remains consistent and reliable. Maxi and Aquilani both need games and a period of settling in – both have shown glimpses of what is to come. All of this begs the question – who are these bad signings that Rafa has made?

Things are, however, unsettled at the moment. Talk of Juventus turning Rafa’s eye and rumours of an impending resignation are worrying to say the least. We are on a long-term plan and probably only about half way towards where we want to be. While there are a few who would be happy to see Rafa on his way to Italy, I am in no doubt – for the most important cog in the machine to fall out now could well see us head into the meltdown we’ve reportedly been in since the start of the season. I suspect (and really hope) that Rafa is simply playing the power game to get what he needs and we want – a major injection of cash into the playing squad in the summer. Despite the number of rabbits Rafa has pulled out of thin air to date there is little denying that the quality of our squad has shown through like a beacon in the night. Our team can compete at the top of the premiership, our squad sadly cannot. Rafa should not be expected to enter into a second summer with debt repayments his top target, rather than improving his squad.

Ironically, despite the naysayers, We’re not a million miles away from where we need to be. We’ve had a poor half of a season through injuries, bad luck and form. The injuries have shown the fragility of our squad and investment is desperately required in the summer. If Rafa does go though, and let’s be honest who can blame him – no manager should have to deal with the turmoil above and around him, get ready to take one almighty step backwards in a league which has been harder this season and set to get ultra competitive next.

  1. Peter A says:

    Hi Taf,

    Great article once again. Keep up the good work.

    It is obvious to all that we need more investment in the team however the need to build the new stadium (which we are told will lead to money for transfers) will hinder player purchases for the next few years.

    I just read an article from Guillam Ballague saying that LFC insiders have told him a long term plan based around a GBP100m investment (probably what Christian Purslow was referring to recently) is in place. The author was quick to point out that even if this investment comes in by the end of the season as expected there will not be any great difference to the amount of investment available to Rafa for transfers.

    Can you blame the Manager if he was to leave for a club which can meet his expectations and ambitions? This is in no way a rant against H&G but they need to recognise that following two transfer windows of relative inactivity the team is in desperate need of funding. They need to show their commitment to the club and perhaps dip into their pockets to fund the next transfer window. The stadium will yield extra finance but by the time it is built and is profitable there’s a real chance we will be left behind. And with other teams (Man City, Spurs, Villa) now exceeding our transfer budget and player wages we will struggle to compete for top players and success on the pitch.

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