The price to pay for perfection is very, very heavy.
There has been plenty of criticism for Rafa in the past 3-4 months, with Liverpool showing awful away form (the sort of form normally associated with mid-table club) and no signs of fixing their problems.
Benitez promised that Liverpool would fix their form by November, but November is almost over and Liverpool are in mired in 9th place, feeling lucky that Fulham lost and hoping that Wigan lose today.
Liverpool are 16 points behind Manchester United, 13 points behind Chelsea, but only 4 points behind Arsenal and 5 points behind Portsmouth. The Premiership is a two-horse race, and Liverpool now have to play for 3rd and 4th place scraps with Arsenal, Portsmouth, Everton, Bolton and Aston Villa.
Rafa Benitez, in his quest for perfection at the helm of Liverpool, is learning, first hand, the problems encountered in a league that actually improves every year. He’s learning (actually, Liverpool and its fans are learning) that rotation does not always work, and that it takes special type of players to make it work, that it works only when there actually are matches day in and day out and that players are being rotated because of sheer exhaustion and not becuase you want to find your best team.
Fact is – Liverpool are in a mess. They need to start playing their best 11 day in and day out until the key players – Gerrard, Carragher, Alonso, Reina – start performing. They need (as much as I hate to say this) Crouch on the pitch from the start, because he is, for all his faults, still likely to create chances and make assists if not score himself. Kuyt needs Crouch, not another headless chicken like himself that Bellamy is.
Keep Bellamy on the bench, make him an impact player, use Garcia in Europe and Crouch in the Premiership. Play Gerrard in the center, Pennant on the right (the boy will learn, or he doesn’t, stick Garcia there), Gonzalez on the left (Aurelio, anyone?), and get this bunch a few games together.
The top teams – United, Chelsea, Arsenal – they don’t switch around the good players. United played full strength away to Sheff Utd – FULL STRENGTH against relegation fodder, are we’re top of the table!
Liverpool benched their best striker from last year in a game they HAD to win.
Theories and tactics and strategies are all good, but results matter, and right now Benitez can’t inspire his team to put down Boro, let alone a real team, like Everton 😛