Saturday, March 07, 2009

Show Benitez The Money

By Gareth Freeman

he Liverpool players and Benitez might claim they still have a shot at the title but I think deep down they know they’re chasing a lost cause now. After that great start I think the last couple of months have demonstrated why the board need to put more money into the team to get them challenging for the league.

In terms of a best eleven Liverpool are probably on a par with Chelsea and Manchester United but in terms of squad depth they’re a long way behind. I think the tiredness is starting to show on a lot of the Liverpool players and it was almost a good thing getting knocked out of the FA Cup as it means the players have the weekend off to prepare for the Real Madrid game.

Rafa is an absolute master when it comes to European football and the Champions League is Liverpool’s last chance to pick up any silverware this season. With Benitez in charge there is always going to be a decent chance of winning a cup competition but in the league tactical ability can only get you so far. When players are tired and a similar level of quality isn’t there to back them up the side are going to suffer and that is what is happening to Liverpool at the moment.

Whether the board will back Benitez remains to be seen. They wouldn’t fork out the £18million Aston Villa wanted for Gareth Barry, which may seem like an inflated price but when you consider the impact he has for Villa it is probably quite reasonable in the modern game. I also couldn’t imagine the Man Utd or Chelsea board telling the manager they couldn’t have that amount of money for a player the manager obviously feels will benefit the team. The fact is if Liverpool had won the league this season it would have been a mammoth achievement and Benitez needs the backing of the board to give Liverpool the best chance of taking the title.

If you’re planning on having an online football bet on the FA Cup action I can’t see any upsets and I expect Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton to progress. There is only on Premier League game this weekend between Sunderland and Tottenham so whatever the outcome it will have no bearing on Liverpool, though you should get decent odds on Spurs winning at the Stadium of Light so it might be a worthwhile soccer bet.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Funniest Football Argument to Date

During Man Utd's 2-1 win over Newcastle last night, there were reports stating that Utd's prancing Portugeezer winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, was involved with a 'heated exchange' with Newcastle's hand-ball-on-the-line expert, Steven Taylor.

The transcript is as follow:

Ronaldo: You're a rubbish footballer.

Taylor: At least I'm not ugly.

Ronaldo: But you're a rubbish footballer.

Taylor: I know, but you're still ugly.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

It's Bright, It's Yellow and It's Cool

"Wow, that jacket looks cool!" commented one. "How much was it?!", asked one of my friend, who swooned when I put on the brand new Brazilian National Team apparel.

"Well, it's free actually.." came my answer and I could see that growing disbelief from their faces.

Actually, it wasn't a lie at all. Indeed, I got this for free thanks to who else but my great pals over there at Soccerpro. I've mentioned before that when it comes to online shopping, I do not really know who to trust until Soccerpro came knocking on my door.

I didn't have time to take photos of the real deal (which is nicely folded in my closet now) but as awesome as it looks there in the photo on the right, the product that was dropped at my door step was exactly that.

I was impressed with the quality of it. After all, it's Nike. Make no mistake about that. The logos were there, the Brazilian crest was beautifully woven onto it and most uniquely, there were 5 stars on the right sleeves of this jacket.

Another reason why I loved this is because it is not too thick. As I'm living in a country where it's summer all year long, there is not much of a need for a jacket that makes it hotter than it already is.

It is useful for probably rainy days and also if you're intending to sit in an air-conditioned room all day long, this will definitely be more than adequate for you and at the same time, makes you look cool in the bright yellow!

So if you're considering buying sports or football apparels online and have no idea where to head to, SoccerPro should be the first and only destination you should be heading for!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Same Old Liverpool – Heights of Bernabeu to Depths of Riverside

Middlesbrough 2 (Alonso OG 31, Tuncay 63)
Liverpool 0

After a comprehensive and important 1-0 victory over the might of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, you would’ve thought that Liverpool would kick into gear and fired up for the Middlesbrough game.

After all, with Man Utd. involved in the League Cup final this Sunday, it is a golden opportunity for Liverpool to cut their rival’s lead at the top to 4 points with a win.

Yet the same old Liverpool syndrome hit again and a 2-0 defeat at the Riverside left Liverpool’s title hope in absolute shambles.

Never a happy hunting ground for the Reds, ‘Boro looked much more interested and fired up in the game than their counterparts. Their fighting spirit paid off, together with fresher legs and resolute defending. The visitors never had a chance and were simply swept away.

How ironic, from the heights of defeating a giant at the glamorous Santiago Bernabeu to being reduced to a pulp at the Midlands. It all happened within 3 short days and it summed up the inconsistencies and shortcomings that plagued Liverpool.

With Fernando Torres out with an ankle injury, Liverpool had to rely on Steven Gerrard for inspirations while Nabil El Zhar was given a rare start. It was a total reshuffle from the victory in Madrid as Benitez might’ve sensed tiredness in his squad.

The new-looked team started the game brightly with several chances but their profligacy was apparent. And in a world of football, punishment for wastefulness is often cruel.

Just ask Xabi Alonso. He performed in his high standards in midweek but was brought back down to earth through an own goal. A ‘Boro corner was deflected off the Spanish midfielder and the home side took the lead.

You would expect Liverpool to hit back like they always did throughout the 08/09 season. Comebacks were a norm and conceding first was not a rare sight. But without the firepower of Fernando Torres and adding to the fact that there were tired players on the pitch, they failed to put up any sort of fight thereafter.

El Zhar did have a fantastic opportunity to put them back on level terms but the inexperience of the Moroccan winger showed through when his shot went high and wide when it was easier to score.

It definitely did the damage psychologically for both the player and the team.

With Liverpool still hardly out of their first gear, Middlesbrough was able to hit the sucker punch which KO-ed the visitors as Sanli Tuncay was on hand to slot home from a Gary O’Neil cutback.

Worse was yet to come for Liverpool as Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, the 2 leading figure of the team, were then withdrawn with the latter suffering from cramps.

It really wasn’t meant to be their day.

Despite the introduction of the midweek hero, Yossi Benayoun, they just couldn’t find the chink in the armour of Gareth Southgate’s men. And all we can say are they only have themselves to blame.

It surely brings about the déjà vu feeling to the Liverpool fans, the highs and lows of supporting a rollercoaster team. Sometimes we have to wonder how they could come up with 2 performances that are as further apart as the east is to the west.

The utter inconsistency is hurting Liverpool big time. Is it a problem with the mentality of the team? Or is it Rafa Benitez still has yet to come to terms with the hustle and bustle of English football? I for one have no answer to that. It’s just puzzling.

And as long this puzzle is unsolved, I don’t think Liverpool could possibly lift their long awaited 19th title. This can’t go on for long and Benitez knows that. These Jekyll and Hyde performances will only put further question mark on Benitez’s management.

And as we are saying this, United already have a brand new sparkling Carling Cup in their cabinet and the 18th league title probably already in their bags. How would Rafa respond to this?

Many changes are needed and it needs to be addressed soon.