4 Apr 2009

Another example of Rafa Benitez's defensive-minded approach...

Rafael Benitez is often accused of being a cautious, defensive-minded manager, and this has been proved again with his line-up against Fulham.

Liverpool have the chance to go top and really put the pressure on Man United, but instead of putting out the most attacking team at his disposal, he plays Andrea Dossena - a defender - on the left wing and leaves Albert Riera and Ryan Babel - attackers - on the bench.


Surely the most proactive and positive thing to do was play Riera or Babel, both of whom are more attack-minded and effective in the position that Dossena.

In his pre-match interview, Rafa stated that Riera was on the bench because of international duty during the week. Clearly, this is not the real truth - Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres also played for Spain during the week but they started the game.

It all comes down to the same thing: Benitez is so too defensive-minded; instead of going for the jugular and capitalising on the confidence and fear-factor Liverpool have created in the last month, he reverts to type and plays it safe.

Without question, Liverpool would be a far more potent attacking force with Riera or Babel in the team, but as Benitez has taught us, it's more important not to lose than to go all out for a win.

That's not to say Benitez sent the team out to play defensively - he clearly just wanted a bit more defensiveness in the team. Perhaps he thought Riera wouldn't be defensively strong enough on the left...?

The decision may not have any negative impact today, but there have been countless times in the past where such decisions *have* had a negative impact.

One thing is for sure, there will be more of these type of decisions in the future.

EDIT. For those people who cannot grasp the simplest of concepts:

1. I did NOT suggest that Liverpool were playing defensively

2. I merely pointed out that Rafa's decision to play a defender in a forward role instead of a dedicated attacked was a defensive-minded decision.

3. I did not raise this issue in the context of one game - I raised it in thew context of Rafa's entire reign, which is littered with defensive-minded decisions, many of which have had negative effects.


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  1. hit the woodwork 3 times, forced the keeper into 2 saves - we still playing for the draw?

    What an awful, awful, article.

  2. Address the issue: Should a defender being player on the left wing when we have natural wide-men on the bench?

  3. hit the bar again, and who is it?

    the defender you are moaning about!

  4. Where did I say we're playing for a draw?! I'm glad we've hit the woodwork. I'm just highlighting the fact that we have natural attacking players on the bench and Benitez chooses a defender for the left wing instead.

    This sort of thing has happened many times in the past and fans - including you I'm sure - have been frustrated by it. Just because we're playing well doesn't change the fact that a more positive choice on the left wing could have been made.

    You don't see United playing Evra on the left wing instead of Ronaldo in a must win game, do you?!

  5. Mate you should be posting on toffeeweb.com. Hit the wood work 4 times in 45 mins. Rafa's got it so, so wrong.

  6. It's the principle of it - playing a defensive-minded player instead of an attacking player on the left wing.

    Just because we're playing well does not negate my point. There have been plenty of times over the last few years where fans have moaned about players being played out of position. In today's game, the team is playing well; in other games, the team has played badly.

    As I've already said, surely you should play an attacking player in attacking position? Where is the logic in playing a defender in an attacking role?

    It may work today, but my point is, Rafa will keep doing this and like in the past, more often than not it will cost Liverpool.

    Riera has played well in the last few games - let him continue that! Let him keep his momentum.

  7. wow you really can't admit when you are wrong. Babel in my opinion does not merit a place in the starting line-up. He never chases back to try and win back the ball when he gives it away. Everytime he loses the ball he just puts his hands on his hips, and looks on, with a slightly dazed look, presumably trying to figure out the nerve of that pesky defender to tackle the great Babel.

    As for Dossena, he has scored two goals in the last 3 matches playing on the left wing. With a hectic fixture schedule coming up don't you think that Riera, being our only competent left winger, be kept as fresh as possible? So, seeing as Dossena has played well there in recent games and is high on confidence, shouldn't he be given a chance?

  8. Since when is Dossena a defensive player. Most of the red fans gripes have been about his defending. Besides he is on a hot scoring streak. Why not play a player who has scored against Real Madrid and Man United in the last month if you want to score goals?

  9. I agree with Anonymous! About this article.

    In case you don't know it, Dossena is a natural left wing back. He's been poor playing at left back all season. Can't tackle for sh!t.

    However he does press forward and can deliver decent crosses.

    Stop dissing Rafa and get your facts right.

    And your right, Ronaldo won't play at left back for Evra! But Fergie red nose will play Rooney at full back. So what's your point?

    Your article doesn't appear to do anything but show that you have no faith in Benitez.


  10. It is just speculating to think that Riera has been dropped because Benitez is going more defensive. For all you know he may have picked up an injury. And Babel has barely started all season probably due to poor mentality and he needs to improve defensively.

    But your article is wrong in that Benitez isn't really playing defensively. If he were Liverpool would be playing far more cautiously. On the contrary, they are playing attacking football. He has adopted the same formation as normal. Dossena is not playing defensively, he seems to be going forward the same as Kuyt.

  11. It is nil nil mind. Dossena has played ok but he missed a header from 3 yards that Riera would have buried. He hasn't beat a man once for skill or pace. We've hit the bar guys. We may as well have hit the corner flag.

  12. Using your logic, shouldn't Torres as our only competent striker be left on the bench to keep him fresher?!

    No one is addressing the point: stop spitting your dummies out about ME and focus on the issue: When Liverpool are fighting for the title and need to win every game, is it the best policy to keep recognised attaking left-wingers on the bench and play defenders in their place?

    It may work in this game but it *hasn't* worked in amy other games in the past. Peter Crouch on the left wing anyone?

    My overall point is, at this stage of the season with so much at stake, why mess things around. Play aces in their places and allow the understanding that has uilt up within the team to flourish.

  13. your overall point, as the site guidance says, is to be negative, regardless of the actual facts.

    after the game, if we dont pick up 3 points, you might have had some justification for questioning the selection, but not 5 minutes before kick off.

    you seriously need to think about your mission statement.

  14. I have no love for this guy, but he is saying stuff I heard walking away from Anfield after the Stoke game and others. He is pushing it a bit mind. Jaimie, you can support us *a bit*.

    We aren't winning though. We might win, but we aren't right now.

  15. YES! Playing Dossena at Left Wing is not akin to playing Crouch at Left Wing. It makes perfect sense to play a player who has scored twice when played in a position , in that particular position. This is NOT rocket science. simple, straight forward LOGIC.

  16. ok, when i saw the team lineup before the game i asked myself a similar question, riera was tired after the spain games and was knocked around a bit. i am thrilled that dossena is playing well on the wing, one of the best liverpool players so far. but then after you see the performances youre still defending your article....now thats just stupid. i feel benitez picked the best team to win as well as nullify their threat. if he had picked an all out attacking team and if wed have been down 1-0 youd still be b*&^%ing.

  17. Anonymous - please stop blatatly lying! The site guidelines DO NOT say writers have to be negative. Please post a link to where it says that. You can't of course, because youre lying. In fact, the writer guidelines say the complete opposite, aas illustrated below:

    "Articles do not have to be negative. Far from it! Writers can be as positive as they like *as long as there is a critical basis for the positivity"

  18. You see - play attacking players and you get results. Great stuff Yossi :-)

  19. Bullshit man, Rafa is a master tactician, by now, you should know this better than anyone else. He is the one thinking about chelsea. Well if he think he can do the job with Dossena well it has been done. Rafa is a cautious manager not involved in emotional acts. Thats fine, let the fans be emotional while he does the job.

  20. Honestly mate, the proof is in the pudding. The reason why it's OK to play a defensive player in an advanced role is because it works. The way the game panned out is entirely relevant in that it shows that your over-simplistic analysis is just that: over-simplistic. It's not about attacking vs defensive, it's about putting players on the pitch to do a job. You get upset when you see a bloke on the team sheet who, in your mind, is tagged as a defender and yet you don't even entertain the idea that he's entirely capable of playing as an attacker. You also don't entertain the idea that strategy is not about labels or pre-conceptions. Only the manager truly knows what a player is capable of. For you to suggest that this has been yet another example of a defensive-minded approach is rediculous and says far more about you and other supporters who make similar comments than it does about Rafa. You just don't understand the game or the way he approaches it.

  21. You Don't really have a clue. Dossena is naturally a attacking wing back and has played better in this position than in defence. Babel replaced him and did nothing. Dossena was unlucky not to score twice

  22. I think the author wants to have an argument that is exactly like this : is it OK to use a player who is normally labelled as an defender played in an attacking role in an important game? The answer is a simple yes because this "defender" is in fact quite capable in attack. Also, team strategy is about instructions and intent and how those are effected on the field. If you tell a defender to attack more you have a more attacking strategy and therefore the exact opposite of a defensive-minded approach. A vague and over-simplified analysis of ONE player in no way means that the approach of the entire TEAM should be labelled as defensive. It's only one player and he is quite capable of doing a good job in any flanking role. There is no reason why you can't put Dossena on the field and still play a mostly attacking game. I think most of us just saw it happen.

  23. 2 crossbars for dossena, not so bad choice...

  24. Actually I don't understand what's the fuss about. We won, got 3 points, top of the table and injury free at the moment, what's the freaking whining about?

    Take personal issues out of this crap. I'm sure managers will know how to assess players. That is why he's given a 5 year contract while people like us use pussy forums to disregard his decisions.

  25. You can play five attackers playing pressing all the time. Is this an attacking team just because it has five attackers or is it attacking because it plays so? And after all, Riera is nowhere near "natural" winger, he's played as wing-back most of his career (also in Premiership). Does that make him a bad attacker?

  26. I wonder if you would be smart-ass if Aurelio played as a winger. Because, by the way, he's been a winger most of his career at Valencia (quite opposite of Riera).

  27. Dear Mr Kanwar,

    I fail to see how Dossena is a defensive player has he not scored twice in three games?has he not a very good cross and wilingness to get forward?Liverpool had 21 shots to fulhams 3!How can this be considered defensive.Liverpool created more chances at the cottage than chelsea arsenal or united.I would love to hear a response instead of just deleting the post!looking forward to hearing your reply my fellow red!

  28. Once again, the fickleness of some fans is exposed.

    Fans have been moaning about Rafa's defensive approach for years; how he plays 'not to lose' rather than going for the jugular etc. There have been countless line-ups/formations where Rafa has chosen defensive-minded players over attackers and subbed attackers for defenders when the reverse should've happened.

    Now, when I highight this particular issue, it's suddenly okay, and Rafa's a master tactician etc.

    You're all completely missing the point: there is a very real and proven context to this argument, as outlined above, and the question that should be considered within that context is simple:

    When a team needs to win *every game* to be in with a chance of winning the title, does it not make more sense to play your strongest possible attacking line-up as often as possible?

    In the Fulham game, Rafa wanted that extra bit of defensive certainty, so he played Dossena instead of Riera/Babel.

    Whether this worked is irrelevent because I didn't raise the issue within the context of *one game*. As desribed above, I posed it within the context of Rafa's entire reign.

    Surely there must be someone out there who can grasp this concept?!

    Fraggs - you say the proof is in the pudding; well, how did we win the game? With attack-minded players on the pitch. Benayoun and Babel made a difference, as attacking players invariably do when you *need to win*.

    And what do labels have to do with it? based on what we know of Rafa, which of the two scenarios are more probable:

    1. Rafa sent Dossena out with instructions to focus on attacking.

    2. Rafa sent Dossena out with instructions to defend first and get forward where possible?

    You all seem to be forgetting the countless times Rafa has played players out of position or taken very defensive decisions with regards to subs/formations.

    Today it went okay, however, I would argue that if Riera/Benayoun or Babel were playing from the beginning we would've wrapped the game up way before the 92nd minute.

    Stop focusing on ONE GAME and start thinking about the bigger picture - Rafa has already cost us games and points in the past with his defensive-mindedness - 23 league draws in the last 2 seasons is testament to that. If he continues to make such decisions in the future, he will inevitably cost us even more points.

  29. once again I'm astounded by the apparent lack of comprehensions skills of some people.


    You're arguing a point that I haven't made. Where did I say that Liverpool were PLAYING defensively?!


    2. Consequently, he makes defensive minded decisions re formations, substitutions etc

    3. This was evident again in the selection of Dossena in the left mid position over the dedicated left-sided attaking player we bought in the summer.

    4. Rafa has made such decisions in the past and his not worked out. In fact, he is well known for making defensive substitutions/formation.

    5. Sometimes it turns out okay; most of the time it doesn't work.

    I did not say Liverpool were playing defensively, I said Benitez made a defensive minded decision.

    Are you incapable of grasping the distinction?!

    Thus, you going on about how we had 23 shots etc is irrelevent. I'm highlighting the latest in a long line of what I perceive to be defensive-minded decisions.

  30. Numair - read the comment guidelines: any comment that does not focus on addressing the issues will be deleted. I'm not interested in your childish dummy-spitting. if you have considered opinion to add to the debate then please do. Anything posted that is not about the topic will be deleted. if you don't like it, that's too bad.

  31. Fair enough rafa has been a little defensive in the past but he is now getting the side playing the football he was known for at valencia.We have scored 4 against united and 5 against villa 2 top premiership teams playing great football not to mention madrid.
    I think rafa told dossena to get forward did he not hit the post twice!!?We won the game by introducing attacking players at the right time.to win every game you need to look rock solid at the back and create lots of chances that is exactly what we are doing at present.Your argument is weak my friend!

  32. Ken

    My argument is not weak. The number of defensive-minded decisions that have hurt the team over the last 5 years *far outweighs* the number of times it has been a success.

    Again, how we performed today is irrelevent - it has nothing to do with my point, which is Rafa made another defensive-minded decision.

    Believe me, Rafa will make more such decisions in the future and they wil fail miserably, and you and lots of other Liverpool fans will be moaning about it.

  33. Numair - I thought you should know that your posts are deleted automatically. I have a piece of code that recognises the IP address of someone posting and deletes their post. So you're not wasting my time, you're wasting yours. have fun!

  34. its only sky armchair fans that want us to win by 3 goals or more who will moan and even when we do you still moan! Rafa said he had a five year plan to get things right and where are we now challenging for the league and flying in europe best goal difference and only lost twice all season and in most of the draws we were the only team that looked like scoring.we are getting better and better something not all fans can see.

  35. Ken

    Drop the cliched 'armchair fan' rubbish. I don't even have Sky! It's a waste of money, plus I don't want Rupert Murdoch getting any of my money.

    And what are you? Some kind of superfan who goes to every single game?

    No, I thought not, so stop talking nonsense. Whether people go to games or not has nothing to do with the level of their love for the club.

    And you still can't seem to grasp that I'm just pointing out the latest in a long line of defensive-minded decisions.

    All this stuff you're saying about 5 year plans and the team getting better would be relevant if I was actually arguing that we weren't getting better, but I'm not, so why are you so esperate to disprove a point I haven't even made?!

  36. i was merely stating that skys view of liverpool as defensive team is lapped up by certain fans but if you look at the stats if you look at the table if you look at our performances we are the best in england rafa is building a team that is a well oiled machine if you think its to defensive thats your perogative but im gonna get behind the man who has now made us league contenders and the most feared side in europe!

  37. Lauri Dalla Valle, remember the name...10:07 pm, April 04, 2009

    I cannot believe that despite having to shop around from the bargain bucket, Rafa keeps getting criticised. He has won the biggest club prize in the world with possibly the weakest Liverpool squad since Souness era. He has just been voted the best manager in Europe by 4 of Europes most well known football newspapers from Spain, Italy and Germany. Only part-time supporters, or ones with very little knowledge of the game criticise a team selection before the game. How much information do you think Rafa (and his backroom staff) has on each and every player? Form, fitness, injuries, ability to follow instructions and mentality. Rafa has a sports psychology degree dont forget, and a shed load of coaching badges. Question to all who criticise a team selection: How many qualifications have you got? Trust the manager, he knows what he is doing - or find someone else to "support".
    Some complain that we drop silly points in games we should win easily. Name a team in the Prem who dont...

  38. jaimie - you just said in the 9:50 comment - "if I was actually arguing that we weren't getting better, but I'm not."

    You wrote several comments in "the calm before the storm" article argueing exactly that - Liverpool, in your opinion ,have made no progression this season.

    Changed your mind?

  39. Anonymous - answer me this: Was I arguing that we weren't getting better in this particular discussion thread?


    So how is what I wrote in another thread relevant?!

    In this thread, Ken kept arguing how we were getting better etc. I wasn't arguing otherwise in the above article, so he was trying to disprove a point I hadn't even made, hence my comment.

    And no, I haven't changed my mind. We'll see how things looks at the end of the season.

  40. You say that you shouldnt have to go to every game to be able to have an opinion on Rafa and his tactics. I agree.

    However, if you dont have sky, were you watching it online or listening to the radio?

    If you were doing either you would have seen/heard Dossena was playing in a very advanced position .

    Therefore you wouldnt have had to ask what Rafas instructions were to him, it was obvious. Get forward as often as you can and try and get the early goal.

    If he had got a bit of luck on the day he could have scored 3 himself in the 1st half ( the shot tipped over, the diving header against the bar and the flick header from a shot that also hit the bar)

    Just because you percieve Dossena as a devensive player rafa , obviously, dose not.

    If you didnt watch it or listen to it either I cant see how you can even ask the question about rafas instructions to Dossena.

  41. "All this stuff you're saying about 5 year plans and the team getting better would be relevant if I was actually arguing that we weren't getting better"

    The sentence implies that you wouldnt argue the fact that liverpool were getting better.

  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. Sorry about the above two posts! When I post articles on the site from other writers on the site I sometimes forget to log out of their ID before posting comments!

    I watched the game, just not through Sky.

    You interpret Rafa's probably instructions one way and that's fair enough. I base my interpretation on 5 years of Rafa being defensive-minded. I find it hard to believe that all of a sudden he's changed.

    The bottom line is, he played someone with more defensive tendencies in an attacking position rather than playing someone with more attacking tendencies.

    And I perceive Dossena as defensive because for the the majority of his Liverpool career, Italian league career and Italian national team career, he has played *in defence*. Riera and Babel on the other hand have always played in offensive positions.

  45. Anonymous - I don't think it does imply that. Besides, I wouldn't argue that the team wasn't progressing on the basis of one game. That would be ridiculous.

    In the 'calm before the storm' thread, the debate was about progress over a whole season.

  46. I know what the 'calm before the storm' debate was about.

    The implication is clearly there.

    The guy here was disscussing 5 year plans . Who was talking about progressing on the basis of one game?

  47. I don't see what the big deal is - whether the implication is there or not, what exactly is your point?

  48. Kuyt was a forward until rafa converted him into an effective right wide man ( playing regularly for his country in that position which he wouldnt be as a striker)

    Gerrard was a defensive midfielder until rafa turned him into a 20 goal a year support striker.

    Maybe rafa brought Dossena to play as a left wide man? He showed enough today to prove that he could possibly do it quite effectivley.

    So it doesnt matter at all how you or anybody else percieves him only how rafa percieves him.

    Dosenna has scored 2 in less games than
    Babel - has scored 3
    Benayoun - has scored 4 and was supposed to be injured so probably couldnt have managed a full game anyway. So not much worse in the attacking sense than some our other "percieved" attackers.

    So , to rafa ,it may not have been a defensive move.

    You also say why would he all of a sudden change his overly defensive policy he has had for the last 5 years.

    Maybe because we are in with a shout of the title for the 1st time in those 5 years.

    It doesnt even matter what rafa has done in the 4 previous seasons, they are history. He is reacting to what is happening now.

    That is why I think he gave Dossena really attacking instructions. This is bore out by how far forward Dossena actually was.

    Do you really believe he would have been in the box having at least 4 attempts on goal if rafa had given him defensive instructions?

  49. The Doss played as a Wing Back/Left Winger whilst at Udinese and has played well the last couple of games when he came on in that position both offensively and defensively.

    Where's the controversy in that?

  50. To sum my opinion up -

    All a manager can do is pick a team HE thinks can win the game before him. HIS opinion.

    They win, mission accomplished.

    I know you will say hindsite is a wonderful thing, he was lucky this time etc.

    but how can you judge him on something that might not happen in the future? Of course he will lose games, every manager/team does, but wait and critisise the actual event , dont just condemn him for what "might" happen.

  51. Rafa always picks his team based upon physical/mental fitness, he has endless amounts of staff dedicated to this. Maybe he played Dossena because Riera wasn't upto the levels he wanted after playing mid week?!?!??!?!?

    For all you critics of Rafa, as a life long pool fan, he is the best manager by a mile that we have had for a long time, the fact we are still pressuring Man Ushited for the title is amazing. Even if we don't win it I'm proud to be a fan and at least we have been up there pressing them as far as we can. Rafa has done amazing!

    In Rafa we should trust.......................

  52. Anonymous

    Rafa converting Kuyt into a midfielder isn't a good thing. It works every now and again but Liverpool could definitely do *much* better in that position. And I'm sure you've criticised Kuyt in the past for his lack of creativity and goals. It's not such an issue at the moment because Liverpoola are winning, but there have been *plenty* of times in the past where Juyt has been a major target for LFC anger.

    Kuyt's conversion just adds weight to my contention in another article that Benitez should not buy another top class striker like Eto'o. Benitez has a habit of messing strikers around and always playing them out of positions: Baros, Cisse, Morientes, Bellamy, Crouch, Keane etc - the list goes on.

    Dossena being in the box 4 times is just by-product of him playing in a more forward role. Obviously, if you're playing on the left of midfield, you will get into the box occasionally.

    Once again, how Dossena played is not the issue - the defensive-minded decision to play (ostensibly) a defender in an attacking position instead of dedicated attacking players is the issue.

    If Rafa bought Dossena to play as a wide man then why has he been played as a defender in 95% of his games for LFC. Check the games he's played in and the positions and you'll see that figure is pretty much correct.

    So, for all intents and purposes, Dossena is a defender for Liverpool. Rafa's decision is tantamount to Man playing Evra on the wing today v Villa and leaving Ronaldo on the bench. It might work for United but it's still the wrong decision.

    Liverpool didn't win because Rafa played Doss on the left - we won because we had more attackers than defenders in forward positions in the last third of the game.

    Going for the win always makes the difference. We didn't score with an defender in an attacker's position whwn Dossena was on the pitch; we did score when he went off.

    Liverpool may have dominated the game but the addition of extra attacking players made the difference in the end.

  53. At the beginning of this season, if Rafa had gone to Real Madrid, I'd have been fine about it. Rafa, in my opinion, is one of the best tacticians in the world and a strong manager.

    But to win things you need a little more than that... you need a little luck, a surge of confidence that carries you past the finish line.
    The miracle of Istanbul proved that he was definitely a lucky manager - but I felt that Rafa sometimes was too tactical and cautious and that held us back.

    Even in Istanbul, the changes he made had no right to work - essentially defensive minded - how could we or he know how that would change the entire balance of the game? But we got lucky. We weren't the best team... but a combination of strong tactics, inspired players and a healthy dose of good fortune saw us become champions of europe! If any of those three things had been missing we would have gone home dissappointed.

    This season is unfolding in a similar way... and we're going to need all three of those things again if we're going to win a thing.

    What we know we definitely have is the first two: Rafa's much maligned rotation policy has resulted in a strong, fit squad and inspirational players coming into form at exactly the right time.

    It remains to be seen if we have the third... the little bits of luck that are the difference between heroes and also rans.

    Rafa is a cautious man... a 'feet on the ground' kind of person. When Liverpool were regularly champions, when league titles were won back to back the story goes that the medals were handed out in the dressing room from a cardboard box along with the message when training for the next season began. Rafa is this kind of manager.

    Yes, he's defensively minded... and sometimes that's absolutely right. Fulham are a team that at home have regularly beaten teams that didn't give them the appropriate respect.

    Playing Dossena was a protectionist move aimed at keeping an eye on the midweek Chelsea game and at the same time ensuring that his philosophy of 'keeping clean sheets means you have more chance of winning games' remained intact.
    A late goal won a difficult game... which is much more important than a late goal to equalise...

    The team he fielded was more than good enough to beat Fulham... and but for the woodwork, Yossi's miracle strike wouldn't have been needed.

    Rafa is 20 years younger than Ferguson but already he is voted the worlds best. And he still has much to learn. As we all do.

    It seems that he's learning it, though. Maybe going top and then seewing it slip away has forced his hand. Allowing his team, when the chips are down, to express itself... and learning to trust his players to deliver.

    And God knows, with a bit of luck... they may just deliver the biggest prize of them all.

    People change.... situations change. Sometimes situations change people. And belief changes everything.

    And you know what? Opinions can change too. Mine has.

    I didn't think Rafa had what it took to win the league... what this season has taught me is that maybe, just maybe - he does.

    A new manager with new ideas could take years to get us back to this point.
    So at the end if this season... win or lose... if Real come knocking for our manager I'll be at the front of the Shankly gates with a pitchfork.... :-)

    I like your ambitions for this site, Jamie. A space for critical analysis of our beloved football club. But critical analysis does not always need to be critical.



  54. Apologies for spelling mistakes... seewing should have been seeing and Jamie should have been Jaimie.

  55. I probably should trawl through the comments to see if this has been posted before, but there's so many of them I reall can't be ar$ed. I have to disagree with you Jaimie on one point, and that is that just because Dossena is used to playing at left wing-back, doesn't make him a defensive seletion. I mean look at the right wing, Kuyt used to be a striker so does that make his selection overly-attack-minded?

    Dossena made his name as a wing-back in Italy, not a full-back. He was reknowned for being an attacking hug-the-line player who would bomb up and down the touchline from corner flag to corner flag all game long. The fact that Rafa signed him with a view to playing him at left back doesn't make him a defender - indeed, Dossena has admitted he has struggled to adapt to playing a traditional full-backs role in England, and claims that this is the reason for his difficulties so far this season.

    I admit, just like you and probably most Liverpool fans out there, i saw Dossena's name on the teamsheet at left wing and groaned in relative bemusement at why he was there, but then ends justify the means - he hit the bar twice, had another great opportunity saved, and generally provided a pacy line-hugging outlet until he was subbed. Both Riera and Babel are players who like to cut inside regularly, though Riera less so, and Dossena is not, and in tight narrow pitches like Craven Cottage you need your wide players to stay as wide as possible as often as possible.

  56. Ah, I got through all that and still failed to mention the fact that he's come off the bench and scored good goals on the left flank against admittedly already-defeated opposition.

  57. I personally have never critisised Kuyt, you dont know me so you can not say what I have or havent said in the past.

    I think Kuyt does more than an effective job on the right. He is no tricky , dribbling winger but he regulary gets in the Dutch side ahead of such players. The managers that play him there obviously see something in him that you dont.

    You said you thought rafa would have given Dossena defensive instructions. This can not be the case because of how forward he was playing. There is no other grounds with which to argue/debate this point. He was attacking because he had been given attacking instructions.

    If he had a bit of luck he could have scored 3, surely you can recognise he was trying to play attacking football? Doesnt matter that he is a "defender" he wasnt playing as one.

    Yes the addition of forward players AT THE RIGHT TIME finally made the difference. Your arguement is totally hyperthetical - we would have won earlier if Babel/benayoun/Rierra had started instead of Dossena. No bassis in facts.

    You would never accept that maybe Rafa knew what he was doing.

    He picks a team - team dominates and wins. He can do no more and still you critisise.

    Going for the win doesnt always make a difference. Didnt fergie throw 3 players on in one go at us in an attempt to go for the win. How did that turn out - oh he lost.

    Its not all about just putting on all your attacking players and you will automatically win the game. Football doesnt work like that. You need a balance to win most matches.

    Dont compare leaving Ronaldo out of their team to leaving babal/benayoun/rierra out of ours. That just makes you look a little silly.

    You said " It might work for United but it's still the wrong decision" - how can something be the wrong decision if it works? Your logic is baffling.

    You keep banging on about decisions rafa has made over the last 5 years. Havent all those decisions led us to we where we are now? Top of the league in April 2009, ranked number 1 in europe.

    I take it you think that if rafa hadnt made all of his "mistakes" or we had a different manager we would have won the league by now?

  58. Good points, Gee.

    I agree with you - using Dossena was a protectionist move, which was all I was trying to suggest. That we dominated the match is not in dispute, but it still took a late goal in the 92nd minute to win it.

    I would argue that if Benitez had played Riera or Babel instead of Dossena and really gone for Fulham without the 'but we should still fear Fulham a little because they beat Man U' attitude, we would have had the game wrapped up long before the 92nd minute.

    This type of protectionist decision has hurt Liverpool in the past; everyone is understandably happy that things worked out this time, but mark my words, the next time Rafa makes such a decision and it fails, Liverpool fans will be moaning.

    I still don't believe we'll win the title this season; it's all too little, too late. Defensive-minded decisions throughout the season have hurt us and 10 draws in the league is not good enough.

    I still don't think Rafa will win us the league - HOWEVER, if he continues to let the team off the leash next season and allows creativity to triumph over unnecessary caution, then maybe it's possible.

    Then again, this season was/is Liverpool's biggest chance in years to win the title. Chelsea, Arsenal and Man U have not been at the level they've been at in previous years, and all three teams have made mistake after mistake.

    I'm sure that next season will be totally different; all three teams will strengthen, learn from this season and will much more of a threat I'm sure.

    And Gee, you're right - critical analysis does not always need to be critical, which is why I've recruited new writers for the site, all of whom offer a different perspective on the club :-)

  59. Naoise - The selection of Kuyt on the right is overly attack minded because Right midfield and striker are both attacking positions to begin with.

    Fair play about Dossena's position, though it is true to say that in almost all his games for Liverpool he has played as a defender, which is why I view his selection as defensive minded. Where he played in Italy has no real bearing considering Rafa has not consistently utilised him in that position.

    Good point about hugging the touchline - If Rafa's intention is to convert Dossena into a left winger/midfielder then I'd mush prefer to see him pay that position every time he's in the team from now on, and allow Insua and Aurelio to cover the left back slot.

  60. Jaimie - Yes, those protectionist decisions hurt us in the past... but they have also helped us. In Athens his protectionism cost us the cup... but in Istanbul they won it.

    His protectionism means 10 drawn games which is not good enough... but it also means only 2 lost games which is excellent. And it also means a fully fit (nearly) squad at the business end of the season... which is also excellent.

    Yes he could have played babel or riera instead of Dossena... and maybe they would have scored and won the game earlier. Or maybe they would have had quiet games and Dossena would have had come on to score. Who would you rather have coming off the bench with half an hour to go and a goal needed? Dossena or Babel?

    This way Dossena got some much needed playing time and we still got the result we needed. Win-win.

    It's just as possible that Fulham (who are a strong counterattack team) could have profited from weakness down the left channel and scored themselves. Results suggest that they would have.

    I understand your point that his defensive mindedness has cost us and will cost us... but I balance that against what it has brought us. At the moment it's about even... let's see what the end of the season brings.

  61. Please delete this:

    Shite article!

  62. Dude, your so deluded.
    If Dossena is on form, and attaking wise, he played better than Babel and Riera have been playin, it would make more sense to start him. Your arguments are so biased.

  63. The thing about Riera and Torres/Alonso and the difference. if you notice Riera rarely plays a whole 90mins and therefore its not hard to suspect that he was unfit to start on Sat.

    And in hindsight Dossena did a fine job on the left wing, and always posed a threat. i think hes better there than at Left back, being defensivly weak

  64. Cmon it is only a game after all