The long red road ahead

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The drivel written since the mid-week defeat against Besiktas has been laughable.  It’s been written in the media – spoken about on Sky – and worst of all written by reds fans on most of the Liverpool FC forums.

It’s been pretty amusing stuff.

Back in August I don’t remember discussing the importance of the Champions League with a great many people.  In fact, whenever the discussion about our priorities for the season ahead it was always about the Premiership.  We went a 21 year wait without the European Cup until Rafa landed it in his first season in charge.  If you can’t remember as far back as May then you may remember we were in a position to land number 6.  Benitez has a European record second to nobody in recent times. 

Meanwhile, the 19th Championship has eluded Liverpool for what will be 18 years by May.

That is where everybody insisted our focus should be and that’s where our priorities should stay.  Wednesday’s game in Istanbul wasn’t pretty – but on reflection we were by far the better side.  They scored a lucky own goal and our own luck had deserted us in front of goal.  Their supporters were fantastic – and we all know ourselves the power of a passionate home support in the European Cup.

The fact is that Benitez is acutely aware from listening to the clubs supporters and no doubt the directors at Anfield, that while Champions League progression is an important part of our club (and we do still aim to win every competition we enter) the ‘bread and butter’ as Shanks used to call it – is what we crave above all others.

To this end Liverpool have enjoyed their best start to a league campaign for years.  Surprising because we have been playing some pretty poor football but we have still managed to save some results from the fire and even taken our share of bad luck in the process (as well as some fortunate luck).

The team that Benitez picked in Istanbul proved to me that he too has realised that our priorities lay with the Premiership.  Alonso was not risked even though he was on the bench and Torres was left at home to continue his recuperation – all designed with an eye on the Sunday game.

Rafa is thinking about Arsenal, and most sensible reds are thinking about Arsenal.  They have had a fantastic start and we are also unbeaten, and something will have to give.  Even if Arsenal do take all three points we will still be well placed for a title challenge, and a victory will provide a much needed boost of confidence.

The media may try to stir up the issue – but Benitez’ gameplan is most definitely on the right track.  At this point last season the title had disappeared over the horizon – this time round nobody dare write us off.

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  • dan

    this part of the year has always been abit difficult for rafa but he always seems to fall in sh*t and comes up smelling like roses lol, but as was said rome wasnt build in a day. but enivitably that day will come and hopefully this season.

    L.F.C for life

  • REDS FAN 4 LIFE

    It’s not anybody’s fault,Rafa is under pressure and all the fans are still behind Liverpool whatever the matter

  • magnumopus

    Agree mate. Good article considering all the drive that can be found on many forums.

  • Graham Agg

    Subject: Rafael Benitez
    I have read the article in today’s Daily Mirror(Saturday 28/10/07, Brian Reade column) and although I agree upto a point with his view about the Premiership and winning the league, I don’t know how he can say that qualifying for two Champions league finals has camouflaged our league form.
    What you have to remember is the fact that Rafael Benitez inherited what was arguably the poorest squad of Liverpool players for about 50 years. To actually finish fifth in his first season and win the Champions League(!!) and League cup final, and let us not forget the horrendous injury list Rafa had to contend with, was an amazing achievement.
    That season, 2004/2005, he had the worst injury list that I can remember in the thirty odd years that I have been supporting the Reds. It was so bad, against Juventus, he had to play Antony Le Tallec up front alongside Baros as everyone else was injured. Carson was in goal, and against Olympiakos in the group stages he had a combined front two of Mellor and Pongolle!!
    Yet, not once did I hear Rafael Benitez moan and complain about injuries – the man is truly amazing.

    The following season, again with little funds and also having to buy his second choice players with the little money he was given, he achieved a record points total for Liverpool in the Premiership of 82 points and finishing 3rd in the Premiership and won the FA Cup(!!).
    Last season, again with limited funds he finished 3rd, and again took us to what for Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, is the holy grail of a Champions League final.
    Yes, after 18 yearss it would be great to once again win the Premiership, but remember United have again spent far more money than Liverpool. Benitez is the man to take us to the Premiership, but it ain’t going to happen overnight. Ferguson took 7 years to take United to the Premiership title. Yes, Mourinho won it in his first season, but don’t forget although he is an outstanding manager, he had the added bonus of having £500 million to spend!!
    The problem for Rafa and the Liverpool board is that because it has been so long without a Premiership league title, the fans are becoming impatient for the title to being won, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
    We have the best manager in Europe here at Anfield, we are lucky he isn’t at the Bernabea in charge of Real Madrid, who would just love to have him as their manager.
    In 2004/ 2005, Chelsea at home and abroad were taking all before them, and were the bookmakers favourites to win both the Premiership and the Champions League.
    In the last 16 of the Champions league, Chelsea played Barcelona, Chelsea scored 4 at home and 1 away. in the quarter-finals they were drawn against Bayern munich, and again they scored 4 at home and 2 away over the two legs. In the semi-final, they faced Rafa’s Reds and in the two legs, home and away, they had 1 (ONE) shot on target(!!), that was Frank Lampard’s shot at the Kop end that Dudek saved.

    That was only down to Benitez and his astute tactical acumen in the way he laid Liverpool out tactically to play against Mourinho’s Chelsea, it was quite simply a tactical grandmaster at work.
    I have noticed in Brian Reade’s column, he has quite rightly, in the past, praised Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger for the superb job he has done at Arsenal, but remember, in Benitez’s three full season’s at Anfield he has finished above Wenger in the last two, and that alone tells you the genius of the man.

    Have trust in Rafa, he will bring us the title, of that there is no doubt.

  • Les

    Superb John well said. These people should take a few minutes to think where we where at the end of the 2003 / 2004 season, and ask themselves could they have dreamed in 3 years to have attended 2 Champions League Finals, winning the greatest final ever. Winning the FA Cup and gaining a record number of points in the Premier League for Liverpool? I think not, yet they still moan. Maybe they should move to Kirkby with the Bitters, then they would have something to moan about. Support your Manager and your Team, that is what Support means, it doesnt mean just support the team when they are winning things…………