Benitez Beaten by a Beach Ball!

We were absolutely atrocious against Sunderland at the weekend. You’d have thought that after the game at Stamford Bridge, the players would be fired up and ready to make a statement that Liverpool are serious about winning the title. You’d be wrong.
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Firstly, the beach ball situation. Yes the goal should not have stood, as the rules state that in occasions such as that, a bounce-up on the edge of the area is the correct course of action. However, the fact remains that we got exactly what we deserved from that game. Nothing.
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I am struggling to find the words that accurately describe how pathetic that performance really was. I would say that that was the worst I have ever seen Liverpool play, but that doesn’t quite cut it. There was no passion, no fire and worryingly with Torres and Gerrard missing, nobody stepped up.
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I played in a pickup game a few days ago, where I only knew a couple of the other guys on my team. We played a team who regularly play together, were organised, knew all the strengths and weaknesses of their teammates and as a result we got absolutely destroyed. Defensively we were a total shambles, regularly being caught short at the back, and were being overrun by the other team on a regular basis.
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As we were a group of strangers, this was understandable. Where it is entirely unacceptable is when it is a team of experienced international players who play like they have never met before. Remember the bad-old days, defensively, of the Roy Evans era? When we were shipping goals at an astonishing rate and every corner was the equivalent of a penalty, such was our inability to defend?
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They were better than our current back line. Jamie Carragher has been taking a bit of a beating in the press and by some fans lately but I’m far more concerned about Martin Skrtel. What the hell has happened to him? He was absolutely all over the place on Saturday, getting out-muscled, out-jumped, out-paced and out-thought. His judgement was terrible, and kept presenting the ball to opposition players.
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What is going on with the communication in the team? In every single game this season there has been an instance of two of our players jumping for the same ball and only succeeding in impeding each other. It’s not just that, we had players chasing the same ball, not working hard enough to get into space to receive the ball and defensively we were all over the place.
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We had some bad news before kick-off, with Mascherano and Insua unable to start after arriving back late from international duty, in addition to Torres and Gerrard being injured and some even worse news with Lucas able to make the starting line-up.
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With Torres and Gerrard out, Benitez looked to replace them with other attackers, then remembered he hadn’t bothered to buy any sort of attacking players, despite the yawning chasm in our squad, preferring to spend our entire summer budget on a right wing-back (when we don’t play wing-backs) and an injured midfielder. This meant we got to see a formation akin to the back seven we played at Fratton Park last season. Our squad is appalling and there is only one man to blame for that.
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We lost the game in midfield, where Lucas showed just why Liverpool fans get on his case by putting in a woeful performance, missing tackles and giving the ball away far too often. Jay Spearing was given a start, and floundered badly. Let’s hope Benitez hasn’t done any long-term damage to his development because it is one thing putting Spearing next to Mascherano, another entirely asking him to continually bail out Lucas. Cana and Cattermole completely dominated the middle and stopped us in our tracks, reducing us to long balls that nobody could win. This midfield also meant that the “attack” were totally isolated.
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Ah, the attack. We had a striker, who has been so successful up front he plays right midfield mostly, in Kuyt, on his own. He was supposedly supported by Ryan ‘I-never-get-a-chance-despite-playing-absolutely-shit-while-putting-in-no-effort-every-time’ Babel who was shockingly poor, and Benayoun, who showed why he cannot be relied upon to play a leading role in the team, by completely shying away from the game. He had about as much affect on the game as me. The man didn’t even break sweat.
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One incident sums Kuyt up for me. The ball was played over the top of the defence to him and instead of taking the ball down and having a shot, he tried to chest it backwards to a teammate and it was easily cleared. He just doesn’t have the instincts of a top striker and despite his high levels of effort, is just not good enough.
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Our best attacking option was Glen Johnson, who while regularly unsuccessful, at least showed some positivity and tried to make something happen, which is more than can be said for anyone else. We didn’t have a proper shot until 84 mins and that was a weak header by Voronin. That is just not good enough for any professional team, let alone a team with supposed title aspirations. We didn’t make Gordon make a save until injury time. We got 7 minutes of injury time but it could have been 70 and we wouldn’t have scored. We were disgraceful.
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We looked to the bench to make something happen. We got Voronin, the man too fat to play for the Ukraine. He fitted right into the game, playing just as badly as everyone else. N’gog came on late but he’s never going to strike fear into the opposition. We had no viable attacking options on the bench; a half-fit Albert Riera is not an option.
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The worst was after the final whistle when Benitez has the gall to blame that performance on the international break. Every Premier League team will have had players on International duty, not just Liverpool. Other teams lost players to injury too, Man United lost Rooney. The diference is that Alex Ferguson is aware that its generally a good idea to have more than one striker and one attacking central midfielder in your squad. Yes, he didn’t get all of his players back until later than he would have liked and we had a few important players injured or not available but this team looked like it had been cobbled together at the last-minute. At least he had the good sense not to blame the balloon for his and his team’s failings. It’s interesting what his excuses will be; now he doesn’t have Rik Parry to blame for his squad.
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Benitez is known for his thorough preparation so I find it hard to believe he didn’t have any sort of contingency in place for Mascherano and Insua not coming back in time. There seemed to be no discernable tactics and playing with three centre-backs completely imbalanced the team. He could have moved Carragher or Agger into a defensive midfield role to keep the usual formation. He seemed so obsessed with finding a way to nullify Jones and Bent, which totally didn’t work, that he forgot once again you can’t win a game 0-0.
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He had this shell-shocked ‘what the f*** do I do now?’ expression on his face all game, and it was obvious he had no clue how to change things for the better. This is a huge flaw with Benitez; he has no Plan B if his initial tactics do not work. He just tries the same old tired ideas that don’t work.>>
Benitez has ruined the squad with his short-sightedness and stubbornness, refusing to buy in positions because everyone has said we need more attacking players, his ego ruined our chances of winning the league last season and he has completely destroyed the youth system, either loaning out or selling any young prospect that looked to have any sort of promise. As a result we have no real options to bring in.
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We have probably blown our title chances already. You can’t win the title in October, but you can lose it. To have any hopes whatsoever we need to beat Man Utd next week, which looks highly unlikely, despite United being far from their best.
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We look no closer to winning the league, which is the competition that all Liverpool fans want, than we did 5 years ago, despite all the money Benitez has spent. For that alone, any potential new owner must look to replace him, as we will never win the league whilst he is allowed to run our club into the ground.>>