1 May 2008

Tactical naivete, inexplicable decisions and irrational stubbornness - how Rafa's mistakes cost Liverpool against Chelsea

Lady luck has lavished Liverpool with good fortune throughout this season’s Champions League, but it wasn’t bad luck that struck in the semi-final second leg against Chelsea – it was a series of catastrophic mistakes by Rafael Benitez that ultimately condemned the club to defeat.

Dodgy refereeing decisions have eased Liverpool’s path through the knock out stages of this season’s competition, with the club benefiting from crucial decisions against both Inter Milan and Arsenal.

As such, Chelsea presented the first real test of Liverpool’s European credentials; the players had a chance to prove they could progress without a helping hand from the referee, but sadly, over the two legs, it just didn't happen.

Rafa is often lauded as ‘the most tactically astute manager in Europe’ for his track record of outwitting top clubs in Europe, but last night’s defeat to Chelsea has, in my view, tarnished his reputation as Europe's premiere footballing tactician.

Let’s just take a look at some the decisions Rafa made that directly contributed to Liverpool’s downfall.

Baiting Didier Drogba

In the build up to the game, Rafa decided that he would have a go at Didier Drogba, and basically called the Chelsea striker a cheat in public. Drogba in turn issued a public retort rebuking Benitez for his comments – something he was well within his rights to do in my view.

Many Liverpool fans predictably slated Drogba for stating he’d ‘lost respect for Benitez’, but why should just stand there do nothing whilst he’s publicly ridiculed? Indeed, Rafa never wastes any time threatening people with court action whenever things are said that he deems to be offensive.

Rafa’s attack was totally unprovoked and completely unnecessary. Irrespective of whether he was right, his comments lacked class – a quality Liverpool fans have come to expect of the Spaniard.

It transpired that Rafa’s lame and counter productive attempt at pre-match psychological warfare failed dismally. Drogba was clearly fired-up by the personal affront and put in an excellent performance, which was capped off with two killer goals that basically dumped Liverpool out of the tournament.

Failed Formation

When is Rafa going to learn? The 4-2-3-1 formation DOES NOT WORK AGAINST TOP DEFENCES! The Gerrard/Torres partnership only works against inferior opposition, and this has been proven time and time again this season.

Examples: Inter Milan home and Away; Man U at Old Trafford; both Arsenal games at the Emirates; Both Chelsea games at Stamford Bridge this season. The list goes on.

I argued before the game that Liverpool needed to play 4-4-2 with Peter Crouch up front if they were to have any chance of winning. As per usual, Rafa’s irrational stubbornness led to yet another unacceptable snub for Crouch and persistence with a failing system.

Partly as a result of the formation, Steven Gerrard’s legendary positional indiscipline reared its ugly head again during the game, as he repeatedly deserted his post to go roaming for the ball in midfield, leaving Torres isolated up front.

Not that it mattered, considering Claude Makalele had Gerrard under his thumb for pretty much the entire game.

The system has to take some of the blame for Gerrard’s failure to register an impact in bother Chelsea games, but the fact the always seems to go missing against England’s top clubs should also be considered.

It took almost 4 years for Rafa to finally admit that his rotation policy wasn't working; Is it going to take another 4 years of playing the failing 4-2-3-1 formation before he finally admits it doesn't work?! Let's hope not!

Failure to play Peter Crouch

Given the FACT that the 4-2-3-1 formation has repeatedly failed against top opposition this season, Rafa’s refusal to play Peter Crouch is nothing short of dereliction of duty in my view.

Chelsea hate playing against Crouch! John Terry has admitted this, and whenever because whenever Crouch plays he causes Chelsea problems. Rafa should have capitalized on this, but instead he delivered an ignominious snub to a player who has score or created 41 goals in his last 46 starts.

I repeat:

41 goals scored/created from the last 46 starts.

What is wrong with this picture?! Why did Rafa ignore Crouch once again, especially when Liverpool needed goals? There is no logical or acceptable reason.

Coming into the Chelsea game, Crouch had scored 3 goals and provided 1 assist in his previous 4 starts. He was on fire and confident, yet once again, Rafa failed to utilize this.

In the quarter final second leg against Arsenal, Rafa played 4-4-2 and paired Crouch with Torres. Liverpool won 4-2, albeit with assistance from the referee.

The point is, the formation worked during the game; Crouch caused problems and even provided his customary assist. The Crouch/Torres partnership WORKED, but this was not good enough for Rafa, who for some maddening and inexplicable reason, does not rate Crouch.

As I said above, this is management negligence of the highest order, but when it comes to Crouch, this kind of behaviour should be expected from Rafa.

And it is not the first time Rafa has scandalously ignored Crouch in a massively important game. Liverpool were crying out for Crouch in the CL final against Milan last year, and Rafa ignored him until the last few minutes.

It could fairly and reasonably be argued that Rafa's problems with Crouch are not related to football, because on a purely footballing level, Crouch ticks all the right boxes.

Perhaps it's personal? Who knows. What is clear however is Rafa's treatment and management of Crouch this season has been a disgrace.

Taking off Fernando Torres

The official explanation is that Torres had some ‘trouble’ with his hamstring. Well, believe that and you’ll believe anything. As a matter of indisputable FACT, Torres did not signal to the bench at any time to inform them that he had a problem.

So how did Benitez know that Torres had an alleged hamstring problem? Telepathy?! One look at Torres’ seething expression as he left the pitch is enough to confirm the truth: Rafa’s decision was tactical. For what tactical end I have no idea, but I firmly disbelieve that Torres was injured.

Even if he *did* have a slight problem, why take him off? Torres proved during the game with his excellent goal that he only needs the slightest chance to deliver the goods. Taking off a Striker who has scored 31 goals in the most important match of the season when the team *needs goals* was a suicidal decision.

I would almost go as far as to say that in the history of catastrophic Champions League decisions, it ranks up there with Gerard Houllier replacing Dietmar Hamann with Vladimir Smicer in the 2002 CL quarter final against Bayer Leverkusen – a decision that cost Liverpool a semi-final berth against...Manchester United.

Taking off Yossi Benayoun

With Gerrard neutered by Makalele and no other player providing any kind of creative threat, the removal of Yossi Benayoun was a major mistake. The Israeli provided a sublime assist for Torres and could have done the same thing again as the game wore on.

Many Liverpool fans have criticized Benayoun’s performance, but I can’t see why. Actually, I can – the fans don’t want to blame golden boy Gerrard for his latest no-show, so someone has to take the blame, and Benayoun (along with Xabi Alonso) is the chosen one.

Benayoun played much better than Gerrard, provided the assist and rarely gave the ball away. Furthermore, he is one of Liverpool’s more technically proficient players; and in the pouring rain, he was surely a much better option that ‘non-deadly’ Dirk Kuyt, who offered absolutely NOTHING for the entire game.

Wingers and no Strikers?

So Rafa took off Torres and Benayoun and brought on Ryan Babel and Jermaine Pennant, who are both (ostensibly) wingers.


It is beyond ridiculous. Playing Babel and Pennant with no Torres or Crouch defeats the object of having wingers in the first place! To whom was Pennant supposed to cross?! Who was the target man - Dirk Kuyt?! A player who has singularly failed to offer any goalscoring threat for the majority of the season?

This is why Peter Crouch needed to be on the pitch. At least then, the likes of Pennant and Babel have someone to aim for. And after The Pennant/Crouch super-show against Birmingham - which prompted Crouch to publicly sing Pennant’s praises - the partnership was definitely worth a shot for the final phase of the game.

Failure to buy first team wingers

Expanding the point about wingers – Rafa has been at Liverpool for 4 years now and the club still has no first choice wingers, i.e. specialists, not square pegs in round holes. Liverpool lined up with Kuyt on the right and Benayoun on the left, neither of whom were playing in their natural positions.

If Rafa had actually addressed this issue at any point over the last 4 years then the Liverpool team that lined up against Chelsea would have been far more balanced, and would not have been relying on a failed striker to provide a creative threat.

We also had the usual Gerrard no-show and lack of real leadership when it mattered, but I’ve explored those issues at length recently, so I won’t do the same here.

All of this was compounded by the pre-match arrogance of Liverpool’s players, something that has become worryingly epidemic this season.

I am so sick of the boasting and inflated self-importance of Liverpool players. I want a return to the quiet dignity and modesty of the past, but I just can’t see that happening.

There are other things that contributed to the defeat, but Rafa’s mistakes are the main reason Liverpool are out of the Champions League.

If only Rafa had kept his mouth shut before the game, made sure his players did the same and played 4-4-2 with Crouch and Torres up front, then I am sure that today, we would all be looking forward to a once in a lifetime game against Manchester United.


  1. I honestly think that you sound like some attention seeking ,sensationalist football writer for some crappy newspaper ,more than a fan.
    I know your argument.
    YOU put things the way you see it.
    You put them differently.
    You don't give the readers the same regurgitated 'crap' that the other liverpool sites do.
    But that does not mean that you make sense.
    far from it.
    You look like a struugling writer trying desperately to get some hits to your site by posting something controversial.
    I mean,did you fail to see that the players who played last night were giving it their all and were outdone on this particular occassion?
    You did.You fail to find any positives and even if you do find them you decide to keep them as far away from this blog as possible.
    Critical realism?
    Not for the fans of livepool it isn't.
    Its just some more ammunition for fans of rival clubs to hit us with .
    serves your purpose doesn't it?
    Yes it does.
    I bet you get thousands of hits every day.
    And you got one from me aswell.
    Congratulations Mr Kanwar.

  2. If you don't like my views then don't read them.

    Liverpool were undone by their own arrogance, managerial ineptitude and the failure of big players to perform.

    Ultimately, this site is about being critical and realistic. My assessment is both critical and realistic, but it's only my opinion. I don't hold myself out as having a more credible view than anyone else.

    Indeed, I may well be wrong, but I'm allowed to be wrong and I can write write what I like because this is my site.

    As for accusations of not being a fan and just trying to be controversial - change the record already! My detractors are in serious need of some new, non-cliched material. I think it's clear that my views have remained consistent for years.

    You stated: "The players who played last night were giving it their all and were outdone on this particular occassion?"

    Please explain, with examples how all the players gave their all. Please explain how Steven Gerrard gave his all when his impact was negligible...

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Jaimie -

    This all seems to boil down to Rafa being the manager! I agree with you on some issues, not so much on others. Who do you think could replace Rafa and do as well/better in the league w/ the talent we have now and be as consistent in the Champions League as Rafa has been? I'm just curious as to who you think realistically could step in and take over for LFC?

  5. Liverpool were not "undone" by anyone. In a semi-final there is a winner and a loser--and this time Chelsea got the luck. Under Rafa, the club has won the CL, reached the final and now another semi. I say congratulations to Rafa and the team for keeping yet another season alive until almost the last kick of the ball.

  6. Top Kop - I don't think Rafa needs to be replaced. I'm not calling for his head as I think he is the right Manager for Liverpool. I'm sure there are others out there who could have done a better job in the league, but I'm still sure Rafa is the right man for the job.

    Yes, I have problems with some of his decisions, but as long as he learns from his mistakes, then great.

    The problem as I see it is he is too stubborn. As I said above, it took him 4 years to admit that perhaps he rotated too much. If he'd seen this two years ago, it's possible we would be closer to winning the league now.

    Rafa still seems to be trying to import his Valencia methods into the permiership in the hope they will be successful. The latest example is his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation - it doesn't work against top defences and this has been obvious throughout the season, yet he still persists with it.

    The worst example of hiss stubbornness is his frequent snubbing of Peter Crouch. I go on and on about it but this type of thing really bugs me. Why would you contnue to ignore a player who is an obvious asset to the team?

    It's maddening, and decisions like that can cost the team, and in my view, not using Crouch against Chelsea cost the team.

  7. Who bought Crouch when most fans were calling it a crazy decision? Who persevered with him when he couldn't score a goal to save his life?

    Maybe you should give RB some credit.

  8. John- why did you delete your comment? I don't mind criticism, and if you feel all I'm doing is complaining and criticising then fair enough.

    To address your points - Why should I highlight the fact Liverpool have got to 3 semi-finals in 4 years? Everyone knows this and it's a great achievement, but that's not the issue.

    And as for Peter Crouch - So Rafa bought him. Big deal. Does that mean Rafa has the right to treat him like dirt for no apparent reason. I'd be interested to hear how consistently ignoring a striker with Crouch's creative return (41 goals scored/created in 46 games) is justified.

    Against Chelsea, Liverpool were desperately needed goals, and even though Rafa took Torres off, he *still* ignored Crouch. Why?! It makes no sense.

    With the watery conditions, Crouch's superb touch and hold up skills would have been invaluable, and with Chelsea growing tired, his freshness and nuisance value could have come in handy.

    The job of the Manager is to use all the assets available to him to do what's best for the team, is it not? Using Crouch is clearly best for the team, so why is he ignored all the time?

    If it was Steven Gerrard being dropped, ignored and being subject to 5 minute cameo roles all the time, I'm sure you'd have something to say about it.

    Rafa clearly has some kind of personal problem with Crouch otherwise he would have treated him better this season.

  9. Anonymous - what is your point? Why is the fact Rafa bought Crouch some kind of defence for his later marginalisation of the player?

    Rafa bought Crouch because he thought he could offer something to the team. He stuck by him at the beginning because he was a new signing and had no choice. You don't sign someone for millions then give up on them after five minutes.

    Crouch had a difficult beginning but then blossomed into Liverpool's top scorer last season. His confidence was high and he was making a superb contribution. Rafa should have capitalised on this, but what does he do to his top scorer? Dumps him on the bench and completely ignores him at many points in the season.

    It is to Crouch's eternal credit that despite this, he has STILL scored goals and created goals at an incredible rate. He could easily be demotivated and demoralised but it's a testament to his professionalism that despite playinig for a manager who treats him unfairly and ignores his contribution, he still does the business.

    As I often point out, Crouch has a goal creation record of almost a goal a game when he starts. No one at Liverpool FC has a better record, not even Fernando Torres.

  10. I agree with the writer on most of his comments.
    Peter Crouch would have surely caused Chelsea some major problems and possible distraction allowing Torres and Gerrard more space to move forward, no doubt about it and if anyone has any footballing cow-sense, would agree to this fact.
    Gerrard, its true, was not commanding, infact he only 'came alive' after Torres equalised.

    Rafa is no god, neither is he perfect. Lets all face it, he goofed! He is neither a humble man to acknowledge that, instead, subtly blames the loss to Risse's own goal in the first leg.

    To me, Rafa lacks maturity and humility and responsibility to acknwoledge his part in goofing up Liverpool's entry into the CL finals this year.

    Liverpool fans are too stoic and blind sometimes to the past achievements that Rafa has given to this club. Infact, we tend to boast a lot about our past achievements to other clubs as well reminding them of our 'rich' history.

    No one can deny us that, but glorifying the past is so empty when there is no present glory for the club (past 2 years trophy-less).

    Let me predict the future for us Liverpool fans within the next 5 years (as I personally see it coming) - Chelsea will be the second, if not the Top club (if they can replace Man U that is) in England and maybe all of Europe.
    Within 5 years, Man U may win the European Cup 4 or 5 times already, if not Chelsea would be 3 times winners by then.
    The EPL would see these 2 titans each year challenging for the title, by 5 years, Man U would have easily surpassed liverpool's record of 18 titles.

    As for Liverpool, we be struggling for the top 4 or 5 postions for the next five years.

    We can never compete with Chelsea or Man U, unless we have matching spending power - this is a fact we must acknowledge. Until then, all we have is a fading history.

  11. You definitely have strong and compelling arguments. For that, and for the way you built up your article to reach this conclusion I'm going to rate it as excellent. It's equally great that you've pinpointed specific mistakes and with your comments you're basically showing solutions as well as criticism.

    HOWEVER, for a club that's not as rich as ManU, Chelsea, AC Milan and many others, Liverpool has been consistently having great results over the past few years. They were all achieved by the same coach and most of the same players who were on the pitch last night. Moreover, reaching the Champions League semi-final is an excellent result itself. So what more do you want? If you look at the bigger picture, in football it's natural to have ups and downs and good seasons as well as less fortunate ones.

    In my country, football is surounded by people who think they know it all and as a result club owners often get involved in coaching decisions or they change coaches as often as SIX times per season (see Dinamo Bucharest). The outcome of that is that our teams seldom qualify in the Champions League and when they do they put on very poor performances.

    My conclusion is that I like your article and I like the fact that it's professionally written and well documented. But had I been a Liverpool fan I'd have been more than proud of the team and had Liverpool won the game last night Benitez would have (once again) been considered a hero.

  12. the Yossi substitution was baffling - why take off a player who had just unlocked a resolute Chelsea defense? it should have been alonso or deadly.

  13. It's true that RB has done a good job over the last few years--but it's also true that Liverpool are still failing to make up ground on the 2 or 3 biggest teams. To be honest, Rafa has a hideously difficult job on his hands. Paisley, Shankly and Dalglish frequently used to win the 1st Division with a points total that would be totally inadequate today. English football has become Scotlandized and there are only 3 teams currently in the picture to win the title. These 3 teams win nearly all their games, so Rafa can only unseat them by doing the same thing himself and then picking up the points in the head-to-heads.

    As for Crouch, I don't think it's anything personal. RB has just decided that he doesn't want Liverpool to play direct route football with a tall front man. Maybe he liked Crouch when he was unable to spend much money, but now believes he's in a position to pay for something better.

  14. Jaimee

    Once again you are hitting the nail on the head. They were all tactical mistakes by Rafa, especially the formation and the Crouch fiasco. I feel sorry for the 6 foot 7 hit man - Crouchy deserves better. Every time I see him play he does the business.

    John Wallen - I disagree that playing Crouch means that you automatically resort to long ball football. Crouch, like Niall Quinn before him except far better, is not just a target man. He has sublime technical skills, holds the ball up exceptionally well, brings others into play and is an intelligent player. He would be a great foil for Torres. Rafa seemed to turn on him when he scored Abbey Clancy, started doing the robot dance and when he became successful with England. Maybe Rafa thinks it’s all gone to his head?

    My solution for Liverpool is to: offload the dead wood - Riise, Voronin, Finnan, Kewell and Alonso; cash in on the loan players like Scott Carson; and buy in some world class stars.

    There is no point in buying mediocre players anymore, let the promising youngsters fill up the squad. Assemble a quality first 11(with 2 or 3 proven high quality replacements), end the rotation system and silly formations.

    I'd buy in Phillipp Lahm, David Bentley and Santa Cruz if the price was right.

    The Merseyside Mojo

  15. Your argument that Crouch has been woefully underused this season, in general, and in the second leg, in particular, bears alot of merit. However, I believe Rafa's hand was forced by the Skrtel substitution. If he had three unenforced subs to make, I have no doubt that Crouch would have been brought on. Rafa's intuition behind bringing on Babel and Pennant was simply their pace.

    The Chelsea defenders were tiring in the rain and the impact of Babel's speed and Pennant's industry was most probably what Rafa was endeavouring to do. Don't forget, Babel did score. Fortuitous, yes. Bad substitution, no. Benayoun and Torres had simply run themselves into the ground. Giving their all for the cause. Committed to Liverpool. It was not as tepid a performance as you suggest.

    Crouch may or may not have made a significant impact against Terry or Carvalho. We can speculate all we like. But to suggest, in your laughably sophomoric but quintessentially reactionary manner that Rafa's reputation as a tactical mastermind in Europe has been diminished by one defeat is not only fallacious but unequivocally foolish. No other European team, apart from Milan has been as consistent in Europe in the last few years as Rafa's Liverpool. It's very easy to forget how poor we were in Europe under Houllier, regularly getting taught footballing lessons by the likes of Barca and (Rafa's) Valencia.

    So I exhort you to put it into perspective, Mr Kanwar. Yes, Rafa's tactical choices may perplex you to no end. But perhaps you lack the cognitive ability to understand his decisions. Just maybe;)

    I do not blindly believe in Rafa Benitez. I, for one, cannot understand his persistent selection of Dirk Kuyt. His first touch is abysmal, but his work rate is phenomenal which is why Rafa rates him.

    As far as your blatantly contrived criticism of Gerrard drifting into midfield and leaving Torres isolated up front, you are once again exhibiting your tactical naivete. The whole point of Gerrard playing in the whole is so that he can take on a free role, drifting into space and pulling the holding midfielder out of position. Granted he had a quite game, but to write him off completely is archetypal Jamie Kanwar.

    Critical realism? Blinkered sensationalism if you ask me.

  16. Anonymous

    I loved your post but for all the wrong reasons. You are obviously using a thesaurus to make yourself sound more intelligent. You failed I’m afraid. Real intelligence is explaining complicated ideas in a simple way so that everyone can understand. What you are doing is putting forward simplistic argument and hiding it in seemingly complicated and impressive language (or as you might say – ‘erroneous verbiage’).

    You use words such as “Blinkered sensationalism”, “blatantly contrived”, “quintessentially reactionary”, “laughably sophomoric”, “fallacious but unequivocally foolish” etc. But you also ruin it by using nouns in the wrong context:
    • Bears are four legged mammals living in the woods, surely you meant ‘bares a lot of merit’ rather than “bears alot of merit”
    • Whole means entire or complete. You are talking out of your ‘whole’ when you say “Gerrard playing in the whole”. I believe you meant ‘Gerrard playing in the hole’
    • Quite means very or completely. I believe you meant ‘he had a quiet game’ rather than “he had a quite game”

    Your criticisms of Mr Kanwar are entertaining but you would be better off coming up with better arguments and communicating them in simple language.

    The Merseyside Mojo

  17. Anonymous - Crouch has scored and created more goals that Pennant and Babel combined over the last year/year and a half, so when Liverpool are desperate for goals in the most important game of the season - AND with no Strikers on the field - surely it makes more sense to bring on a player with Crouch's creative record?!

    Furthermore, what is the point of bringing on two wingers but having no one in the centre to aim for? The bottom line is, Liverpool needed to score goals and Rafa decided the best way to proceed was to have no strikers on the field.

    Contrast that with Chelsea - at the final whistle, they had THREE strikers on the field: Drogba, Anelka and Shevchenko. Surely common sense dictates that when you're chasing the game and scoring goals is *imperative*, having at least one striker on the field is essential?! Or am I missing something?

    Rafa's reputation as a tactical mastermind *has* taken a battering in my view, and it's not just because of one game. He got it wrong in last year's CL final too, another game in which he failed to utilise Crouch, who was Liverpool's top scorer at the time.

    This season's CL campaign has not been one long display of tactical genius. There were some atrocious displays in the group stages, and Liverpool scraped through the knock out stages thanks to dodgy penalties and two laughable red cards. This culminated in the tactical mess against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which led to Liverpool going out of the competition.

    You say Liverpool were poor under Houllier in Europe, but in 2005-06, Liverpool were equally as poor under Benitez in the CL. And like Houllier, Benitez's decisions cost Liverpool a dream meeting with Manchester United.

    You can condescend to me all you like and accuse me of not understanding Rafa's 'perplexing' tactical decisions, but the reality is it's not rocket science. Football is not a difficult sport to understand, and tactics are not difficult to understand either.

    People try and make out that football managers have some kind of special knowledge of tactics that can only be attained if you actually play or manage, but that is a load of nonsense. Rafa got it wrong, pure and simple. He played the wrong formation, played the wrong players and made the wrong substitutions.

    And I disagree with you about Gerrard's role. The point of his role in the hole is to get forward, support Torres and provide an attacking, creative threat. Indeed, both Rafa and Gerrard have publicly stated this to be the case. His job is not to drift deep all the time and try and get the ball because the ball is not getting to him fast enough.

    Torres was isolated for most of the game because Gerrard deserted his post. Not that it mattered anyway because there was zero creative anyway - apart from Yossi that is, who became the first Liverpool player to carve open Chelsea's defence at Stamford Bridge for about 5 years.

    But of course, Rafa's tactical genius dictates that you take off the only player who could provide a Luis Garcia-like piece of match winning magic.

    And spare me the 'but Yossi was tired' excuse! He's been warming the bench for most of the season, which means he's probably fresher than most other players. He wasn't tired and he should have stayed on.

    And where did I write Gerrard off completely? I didn't at all - I just pointed out that once again, in a game against one of England's top clubs, Gerrard was a no-show as a player and as a leader.

  18. We have to say that in Europe Rafa gets it right more than he gets it wrong. Apparently you didn't read Torres' recent revelations about how a lot of his success this year is due to RB. He says that Rafa has told him about how many feet--or meters--to stand from the ball when coming into the penalty area, resulting in goals. He says that RB even studies flight simulations of the ball on his computer.

    Try to get the balance right, Jaimie. Criticise RB by all means, but try not to make it sound like he's a complete bone head!

    Context is everything.

  19. In response to the grammar policeman, who quite admirably criticised my spelling mistakes and strategically avoided my arguments (epitomising the straw man fallacy, of course):

    - I did not use a theasurus. The first time I heard of a theasurus was when Jurassic Park came out. I may be verbose but googling synonyms is not one of my hobbies. freerice.org is a lovely way to improve your lexicon, because it has a philanthropic facet to it. I exhort you to do this.

    - A word is a unit of language, but "blinkered sensationalism", with more than one language unit, is generally referred to as a phrase. Get it right.

    - "Bears merit" is a correct and acceptable phrase. Bear is not just an animal. Evidently, your knowledge of nouns with more than one meaning is "bare". I simply can't bear your insufferable pomposity, which is quite misplaced. See how I used bear and quite appropriately?

    I misspelt "quiet" as "quite" and for that unforgivable error I apologise most profusely. Oh, Grammar God, I repent. Shower your benevolence upon me and pardon me. Ditto with "whole" and "hole". A rather egregious oversight. I was typing quickly.

    Merseyside Mojo, you have no idea what grievous pain it gives me to have to defend my grammar on an opinion blog. Thank you Mr Kanwar for responding to my arguments and not the conduit of diction that I used to convey them. I will respond to them shortly.

    Yours sincerely,
    Linguistic Diarrhoea.

  20. Jamie, I agree with virtually everything you've said here.

    And I fail to understand the constant intellectual blindness from fans who comment on this site.

    How can anyone defend Steven Gerrard, after yet again going missing against a big team? How can anyone defend the tactical mistakes of Benitez? I have no idea.

    I think it's time for Liverpool fans and the club itself to take a long hard look in the mirror and realise the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes.

    I'm not saying sell Gerrard; I'm not saying get rid of Rafa - but let's not kid ourselves that we're better than we are, or that our squad is world class, or that we have the best manager in the business.

    This team talks the best game I've ever seen. Shame they can't play the same way. We are miles behind United and Chelsea, and even a bit behind Arsenal. Until we stop kidding ourselves (especially our players and manager) this won't change.

  21. Linguistic Diarrhoea

    Thank you for your apology. However, I am not advancing myself as the Grammar God so you can simply refer to me as the Merseyside Mojo from now on.

    I look forward to reading more direct, powerful, argument-centric posts from you in future (rather than the weak ass, error strewn, grammatically imprecise claptrap you have previously propounded).

    Once again you reject the opportunity to put your views across and concentrate on showcasing your lexicon. No one gives a damn about your lexicon.

    The Merseyside Mojo

  22. classic armchair critic.
    benayoun was useless except that assist...stopped reading after that..