Congratulations Liverpool. The pathetic end to a crappy season.

Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Chelsea on winning the league title. They’re not a club I particularly like or respect, but I will say they deserved the title.
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Congratulations are also in order to Liverpool for finishing a spectacularly bad season on a truly crappy note.
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Liverpool today travelled to Hull. That’s the same Hull team that has been already relegated. The same Hull team with the appalling defence, not much better midfield and the total inability to score. The same Hull team that Burnley, who are about as effective away from home as your front door keys, managed to put four past. The same Hull team that Liverpool beat 6-1 earlier in the season.
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Liverpool needed a win to stand any chance of getting into sixth place. Whilst that is an extremely depressing sentence for any Liverpool fan, there is actually a significant consequence of finishing sixth rather than seventh. Seventh place doesn’t actually automatically qualify for the Europa League; they have to go through a qualifying round.
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With Villa facing a potentially tough final game against a surprisingly resurgent Blackburn Rovers side, Liverpool surely were going to go for the jugular against Hull, weren’t they?
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Well, not with Benitez in charge. As ever, he refused to alter his formation or tactics one iota and as such we were set up with our usual away objective; draw 0-0, do nothing adventurous and hope we can bore the opposition into a mistake.
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In the first half there was only a Nabil El Zhar shot and Aquilani hitting the crossbar worth mentioning and Hull probably should have scored, with our uber-defensive tactics not working.
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In the second half, one team was trying to win the game and one team had mentally packed their bags and headed to the World Cup training camps or the beach. It will not surprise you to know that the latter team was Liverpool. Frankly, it was embarrassing watching most of the players half-arsing it around the pitch and playing football about as appealing to watch as a Hugh Grant movie marathon.
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Hull should have scored when Mark Cullen headed wide. Liverpool were putting up about as much fight as the Italian Army, and didn’t try anything at all in the second half until Steven Gerrard decided to do something and ended up hitting the post. However that was in injury time and a truly shocking season petered out into a suitably lethargic end. I really cannot understand the rationale in a game we have to win, of persisting with a back 4 and two holding players. I really don't.
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From the outside looking in the players basically couldn’t wait for the season to end and looked totally dejected and demotivated. The have been many occasions this season where the players look like they just don’t want to play for Benitez and his smothering system anymore. I think he’s lost the respect of the players and once that happens, it’s virtually impossible to get it back.
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I was reading World Soccer magazine recently and there was an interview with Alvaro Arbeloa. The following passage struck me as being very appropriate: “Liverpool follow Rafa's instructions very closely. What Rafa wants, the team does. Rafa works hard during the week and a lot of the time the team plays on memory. That's very good in certain situations, but there are moments that you need to think for yourself and do something unexpected. If the opposition works you out, you need another option. Sometimes within [Benitez's] framework, doing something unpredictable is hard. Every player knows what he wants. The 1-2-3 your work on in the week is the 1-2-3 you produce in the matches. At times that can be a bit robotic”>>
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That’s my biggest criticism of Benitez. He’s far too rigid, too overbearing and has completely stifled the natural instincts of his players. Towards the end of this season it looks like some of them have rebelled and pushed back. I’ve heard a few rumours about certain players, star players at that, have refused to play under him anymore.
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After the game it was announced that Benitez was going to do a press conference instead of doing individual press, TV and radio interviews and would not take questions. That lead to huge speculation he was going to announce his resignation but alas, it was not to be. All we got were some weak assurances that "If I stay I am not thinking about selling Gerrard and Torres - just in case 'senior sources' say different things," he added. "It is very clear. The chairman was clear, he doesn't want to sell. The manager is clear, just in case you see any exclusive interviews with ‘senior sources’.">>
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He mentioned ‘senior sources’ 5 times in his interview, implying that some people at the club are trying to force him out via the press (I have heard rumours to that effect too, involving a very senior member of the staff who I don’t want to name). Of course it could be another one of his deflecting and diverting attention away from his own failings. >>
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Note he also said, “If I stay” meaning he may not. He’s expected to meet with the chairman again this week to discuss his future. There were reports that Benitez asked for certain conditions in order to stay. The club agreed to some but not to others. It seems that there is some posturing on both sides. >>
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Villa lost their game so Liverpool would have got sixth if some of the players had actually broken sweat and tried. Once again, it was only the defence and Reina who looked like they cared. So thanks to the manager’s negativity, and the players’ horrible attitudes, Liverpool’s season will now start in late July rather than August, probably somewhere in Eastern Europe. As many of the squad will be at the World Cup, the normal procedure is that they get time off to rest after the tournament and arrive at pre-season training later than the other players.
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That in turn means that we could be playing that game without Torres, Gerrard (that’s assuming they’re still here), Reina, Mascherano, Agger, Johnson, Lucas, Kuyt, Babel etc. If reports are to be believed then Carragher may even be going to South Africa. Given just how bad the fringe players of our squad are, can we be confident of even qualifying? I’m not.
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On a positive note Liverpool gave a debut to youth player Jack Robinson, who at 16 years and 250 days, became the clubs youngest ever player (if you knew that the previous record holder was Max Thompson in1974, I’m impressed!). Robinson is a left back, so of course Benitez didn't play him in his correct position, instead being played out of position in left-midfield.
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While its always good to see a young player being given a chance, Robinson hadn’t even played for the reserves before that game so that to me begs the question of if he van be on the bench, why can’t some of the players who have impressed for the reserves have also been brought in? Would it have killed anyone to bring Dani Pacheco on sooner? Why weren’t Lauri Dalla Valle or Gerardo Bruna considered?
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I think it’s fair to say that 2009/10 won’t be remembered with any fondness by Liverpool fans. We were meant to be title challengers this season but instead fell faster than Kermit Cintron on Saturday. Things can only get better. We hope!