21 Apr 2009

POLL: Ryan Babel and Robbie Keane - who is responsible for their failure at Anfield?

Hot on the heels of Robbie Keane being dumped on the scrapheap by Rafa Benitez, Ryan Babel is seemingly on the way out of Liverpool after failing to hold down a first team spot. Who is to blame for these two expensive players failing to make the grade at Anfield?

I recently argued that Benitez is to blame for the failure of Keane and Babel to fit in at Anfield; the crux of my argument was based on the following facts:

1. Babel subbed/on the bench in 90% of games since 2007
2. Babel dropped to the bench 10 times after scoring goals in his first season
3. Keane subbed/on the bench in 85% of games for the club.

But what do you think?


  1. Rafa Benitez. I'dont believe his man management skills to be the best. After Keane left he commented on how distant Rafa was from the team, never engaging himself with the players. People say that Keane was Parrys buy but Keane would still have been on a list of potential targets compiled by benitez. Keane was then used as an expensive political pawn by Benitez.

    I also believe this to be an issue with Babel, a player with huge potential that will never be realised at liverpool. This is unfortunate coming from a liverpool fan but i think Wenger would have developed babel into a superstar.

  2. Why exactly has Babel got such 'huge potential'.
    He has no left foot, has an incredibly poor first touch, needs too long to get the ball under control, is highly predictable, is completely unaware of the position or movement of any of his team mates, has very poor decision making (game intelligence) and bottles every challenge he is near.

    He may be good enough for another European league where he will have enough time and space on the ball to make an impact, but in the Premiership he has been completely found out.

    To make things worse, he believes he has a divine right to start every week ahead of others and mouths off about it at every opportunity.

    For his good, and ours, he needs to go. So, Jaimie and Anonymous, get a grip on yourselves and realise that Babel came with promise but is not at the level required to be a Premiership and Champions League contender.

    It's about time you gave up this anti Rafa agenda. It is starting to get very tedious.

  3. obviously the player's themselves..rafa's the manager and he know's best.certainly better then you,me or anyone else who like's playing.."i could do a better job then rafa."

  4. Nik

    If Babel did not have huge potential then why spend £11.5 on him? Are clubs in the habit of spending that amount of money on such a young player with no potential?! I think not.

    I think it is beyond argument that Babel has potential. You say he has no left foot; well, does Torres?! No. Doesn't make him a crap player though.

    And I think you fail to acknowledge the impact of never getting a regular run of games and always playing out of position. Given the fact that Babel is ostensibly a striker, is it not normal that it will take him time to adapt to a new position?

    The key point is how can he adapt/get comfortable/learn positional sense/build up an understanding with his team-mates when he's never given a proper chance to do so?!

    And you also gloss over something else very important: Last season, babel scored 11 goals despite being on the bench or subbed in almost 90% of games. For 10 of those goals, Babel was dropped to the bench for the next game.

    Once or twice you can understand, but 10 times?!

    Is this fair?

    Is this the proper way to manage and motivate players?

    Would repeatedly ebing subject to this type of behanviour not have an impact ona players's confidence?

    Such things cannot be ignored, so I would suggest it is you who needs to drop the tunnel vision and get a grip, not me.

    And there is no anti-Rafa agenda - It just so happens that many of the things I generally dislike about football happen to Rafa-related recently, i.e. dragging club business into the press; pointless public spats with other managers; mistreating quality players; favouritism for inferior players etc.

  5. I don't think one can turn a complicated issue into a few voting buttons. I suspect the true answer is a combination of all of those options above and then some.

    Clearly when Rafa bought them he must have felt that they had the potential to be great at Liverpool. He may also have bought them for roles that were not what the two players were used or were comfortable with. Rafa may also have disproportionately sidelined both players when what they needed was more time on the pitch.

    Equally though both players may just not have been good enough or good enough for the positions Rafa had in mind. Furthermore one shouldn't forget that Liverpool is a huge huge huge club and not all players - even the ones that come with big reputations and potential can cope with the expectations and the standards set at Anfield.

    In addition there is no excuse for any player joining one of the top four sides to not know that he will be part of a rotation system. All 4 teams use this system now and even the best will have to spend some time on the bench.

    Finally, we should put this into perspective. Yes Keane and (possibly) Babel have failed at Liverpool, but players in all clubs at whatever division fail. To single out these two seems somewhat designed as a means of having a go at Rafa

  6. I haven't just singled out these two - I've highlighted Benitez's mistreatment of other players in the past, including Peter Crouch, Jermaine Pennant, Yossi Benayoun and going all the way back to Stephane Henchoz. Babel and Keane are the two most recent examples.

    Benitez has a history of treating players badly on a regular basis, and this is something irritates me in the extreme, which is why I highlight it whenever it happens.

    It has nothing to do with the fact it's Benitez - Houllier was the same in some ways and I highlighted the same type of things during his reign.

    And if Kenny Dalglish returned as Manager tomorrow and treated players like Benitez has treated keane/Babel/Crouch etc then I would still highlight it.

    It's not the manager - it's the man-managament/treatment of players, and a this time it is Benitez who is treating players badly.

  7. Jaime thanks for the reply. I understand the point you are making about man management. But why have players such as Torres, Kuyt, Masch, Skertel and Alonso to name a few seem to have thrived? Clearly the success or failure of a player must be down to more than a single factor.

  8. Yes, I agree - success/failure is probably down to more than one factor, but the 'Benitez factor' is a major reason why certain players have failed.

    Robbie Keane for example. A model pro for his entire career. Very experienced. Proven quality. Always scored goals, especially recently - top scored in the league throughout 2008. Every other manager he's played under has had nothing but good things to say about his attitude, dedication and commitment.

    All of sudden, he goes to Liverpool and he's a failure?!

    It doesn't compute.

    I would argue that Benitez has been the main facor when it comes Keane being transformed from a success into a failure.

    Based on Keane's career thus far, what is more probable:

    a) Keane suddenly developed a bad attitude and lost all his talent?

    b) Benitez cruushed his confidence by showing him no respect; playing him out of position; constantly subbing/benching him; dropping him every time he scored; not allowing him to develop within the team...

    I was against the Keane signing from the start - not because he wasn't good enough, but because it was obvious that Benitez would misuse him. I wrote an article at the time arguing that very point.

    With Babel, there are probably more factors at play, but again I would argue that the Benitez factor is most to blame.

    Every keeps ignoring this point but the ultimate example of what I'm talking about is this:

    In his first season, Babel scored 11 goals. He was dropped to the bench for the next game after 10 of those goals.

    Come on! How can this be justified?!

    Is this not strong evidence of Benitez's horrible mismanagement of the player?

    You encourage a player to score goals and reward them by dropping them *10 times*?!

    Just imagine if Babel had been rewarded for scoring his goals by playing from the start in the next game. It's entirely possible he would've scored/created more goals; his confidence would have increased and it's probable he would have developed more.

    But no.

    The way Benitez has managed Babel is a prime example of how *not* to do it in my view.

  9. And there is no anti-Rafa agenda - It just so happens that many of the things I generally dislike about football happen to Rafa-related recently, i.e. dragging club business into the press; pointless public spats with other managers; mistreating quality players; favouritism for inferior players etc.

    What club business?
    Inferior players such as...?

    I think Benitez is just doing his job as a manager; picking the the players who will make the best team for a given match. Just look to Real Madrid for evidence that throwing a bunch of talented individuals together doesn't necessarily give you a world-beating team. And let's not forget Istanbul. Benitez won the Champions league with a team largely made up of so-called "inferior" players.

    And just because he's a football manager, doesn't mean he has to have the best man management skills around. A lot of the top managers from past and present have had this problem, and with teams having larger squads for the modern game, it's a problem that will be on the increase for sure. You can't keep everyone happy. Play a season of Football Manager and you'll know what I'm talking about.

  10. Yes, Babel scored 11 goals last season, nearly if not all from the bench! I don't think there has ever been a game where Babel has done well when played from the start.

    It is good to be able to bring out a pacy and strong attacking player when your opponent is knackered. Thats what Babel has been proven to be good for.... a super sub unfortunately.

    Babel, as with Keane have both been completely infuriating, not contributing enough to the cause in the games that they did play. Thats why they leave or are going to leave.

    All these comments about Keane being a model pro etc is irrelevant. I dare say most or all our players that we bought but then sold are model pros and arguably are the best or among the best players in their clubs ie Murphy, Crouch, Bellamy, Zenden, even Diouf. That doesn't mean they fit here, although they all had their moments.

    Keane is/was a mistake, as Benitez ominously stated "the club bought Keane". In all fairness, Rafa played Keane quite a bit at the beginning of the season. Didn't do well at all. I have no regrets with selling him back. I only feel uncomfortable with the politics in the background where he was bought in the first place

    Lastly, yes! Potential world class young players cost 10mil +. Babel is one, so are Anderson, Nani, Walcott, Nazri, Queresma etc etc. Some will make it, some won't. But you have to take the risk if you have the money, in case they are a success.

    Silly to hang this on Rafa's neck when Wenger and Fergie have tons of players this price range that failed, and only the very few made it and they are praised to high heavens.

    I am only glad that Rafa did try to buy in this range (10+ and above), that we are in the market for potential world class, rather than bargain basement good pros. I think with Alonso, Mascherano and Torres, his record is decent. Failures is so far only Keane. Babel.... we'll see

  11. the supposed mistreatment of babel by benitez is ludicrous. Babel's attitude is the problem and nothing else!