Gerard Houllier - RIP :-(

5 Apr 2009

When was the last time a Liverpool Manager had the guts to make a decision like that?

Today's (regrettable) events at Old Trafford have highlighted the massive difference in approach between Rafael Benitez and Alex Ferguson when it comes to utilising young players.

With 20 minutes remaining in today's vital, must-win game against Aston Villa, Manchester United were losing 2-1 and didn't look like getting back into the game.

Faced with an unthinkable defeat that would further damage United's chances of retaining the title, Alex Ferguson replaced the comparatively experienced Nani with untested 17 year old striker Federico Macheda.

What happened next? This young player, who has never played a premiership game before, scored the winning goal that took United back to the top of the league.

For all Liverpool fans, that goal was like a knife in the chest, but would Benitez have taken such a bold step and thrown a 17 year old into the fray in such a vital game? Has Benitez *ever* had such faith in any young reserve/untested player?

Never.

The defensive-minded, protectionist thing for Ferguson to do here was to bring on Park Ji Sung, a vastly more experienced player. Instead, he threw caution to the wind and gave Macheda his opportunity, clearly because the player is more attack minded and Man U desperately needed a goal.

United bringing on Macheda today is analgous to Liverpool bringing on Daniel Pacheco against Fulham yesterday when the game was still 0-0. I know Pacheco wasn't on the bench, but you get my point: it would never happen in a million years.

Recently, I've been arguing that Liverpool's policy with regards to developing young players and giving them chances in the team leaves a lot to be desired. I just wish Rafa would take the slightest risk every once in a while and have some faith in one of our legion of young players.

So - when was the last time a Liverpool Manager had such guts? Twelve years ago in May 1997; Roy Evans was in charge and Liverpool were losing 2-0 to Wimbledon. In order to keep the heat on United, this was a must-win game.

Evans sent on Michael Owen with 16 minutes to go, and like Macheda, he scored a goal on his debut. Liverpool lost the game but the a new striker was born.

Owen went on to become a fantastic goal scorer for Liverpool, but just imagine what we'd have missed out on if he'd never been given the chance in the first place.

Of course, I feel sick after seeing United snatch their trademark last minute goal, but I can also appreciate the guts it took to take such a gamble with an untested 17 year old novice.

Sometimes, that kind of gamble and belief in young players is just what it takes to get the right result.

Does Benitez have it in him to make similar kinds of decisions? Clearly not at the moment, but maybe that will change over the next few years.

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89 comments:

  1. had no choice to put him on as far as i'm concerned..sure if all the big boy's were playing he would never even been on the bench.

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  2. To be honest I'd say that if Torres, Babel, Ngog and Gerrard were all missing and Kuyt was up front on his own, as I believe the equivalent would be, then Rafa would name someone like Nemeth or Pacheco on the bench because there was noone else. And if we needed a goal with 20 minutes to go then why not bring him on?
    I'm fairly sure Mr Ferguson isn't going to need praise from us over the next few days, as he'll certainly be getting enough from his fawning admirers.

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  3. Rooney was suspended and Berbatov injured. There was very little option, in my opinion. Had Tevez not played at 3000ft and only returned on Friday, or the other two been fit and available, he would never have made it on.

    If Kuyt and Torres were out, and we'd played Babel up front by himself and he'd been in Tevez's condition, I'm sure we would have seen N'Gog and another striker quite possibly.

    Even without Keane we have more players that are capable as playing as strikers than United do.

    Charlie

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  4. I find this incredibly amateurish. Man United did not have their strikers available and these were the strikers left available. And they had to win.

    Why draw that link with Benitez? When he put on a side against Fulham which obviously went for the jugular, you criticized him for defensive choices like Dossena etc.

    We do not fully know the situation with Liverpool's young players. Perhaps they are not good enough yet? If we ran out of strikers perhaps they'd be thrown in if really needed?

    The basic point is that you have a deep-seated bias and keep going on these lines.

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  5. one good shot, lucky shot does not make him a great player nor fergie a genius. a draw or loss and the papers would have slaughtered fergie for not utilising the right players. Villa were poor and tired in the last 15-20 minutes. the righting was on the wall. besides rafa has played insua, lucas, ngog, alzahar etc etc
    YNWA IRWT don't lose the faith!

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  6. When he subbed off Gerrard for Lucas against Everton October 20, 2007. Lucas took a shot which was going in the net until Neville handled the ball on the line preventing the goal. Then Kuyt scored the resulting penalty. Everton 1- 2 Liverpool.

    If subbing off your captain in a derby game isnt having balls then i dont know what is.

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  7. Anonymous - Tevez did play. He was substituted in the 87th minute.

    I appreciate that United didn't have Rooney or Berbatov, but they had Park on the bech who is very experienced and carries an attacking threat.

    Why not bring him on?

    What do you think Rafa would have done in that situation? Bring Park on, I imagine.

    Who was and was not injured is irrelevent - it's the *principle* of having the guts to ignore a more experienced player (Park), in favour of a 17 year old who's never been part of the first team before.

    I just think this spirit of adventure/calculated risk is missing from the current Liverpool set-up.

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  8. Despite the fact that Rooney and Berbatov suspended and injured respectively and Tevez isn't playing well at the moment, you're right.
    Rafa approach to youth players, sadly, is far from what it should be.

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  9. Brad - good point about Lucas, but I respectfully submit it's not really a good comparison. Lucas was 20 at the time, had played in the premiership before and was bought as a first teamer, not a reserve. But you're right, it was a bold decision, and one which I praised Rafa for at the time. yes, there was once a time when I was a fan of Rafa :-)

    Rafa the Merciless and his Steven Gerrard masterstoke

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  10. "Ryan Babel came off the bench to hand Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez his first-ever Premier League victory over Manchester United."

    One case of rafa bringing on a young player in an effort to win the game.

    You have in the past also critisised rafa for taking off robbie Keene and putting on Ngog. Not much different from taking off Tevez for a 17 yr old in a must win, which you know praise fergie for doing.

    Fergie gambled with his young player and won.
    Rafa gambled with his and lost as Ngog didnt score.

    I have now given you two examples THIS season where rafa has done similar things to the title of this article. One of which you had previously critisised him for doing!

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  11. Oh come on! Ryan babel cost £11m - I'm talking about young players coming through the ranks. Lucas and Babel were both bought for the first team, so there is a massive difference there.

    Re Keane and Ngog - completely different situation. I don't see how it's relevant here. I made the point that Keane - who cost £20m - was subbed or benched in 28 out of 33 games for Liverpool and was dumped on the bench in favour of Ngog.

    My point was that this is not the way to an experienced, proven premiership goalscorer on which so much money has been spent.

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  12. Do you ever write anything positive? It's fairly clear you can't stand Benitez, despite our best team and leaugue performance for nearly 20 years. You're really scraping the barrel using this as a stick to beat him with. Rafa's far from perfect, but we need all supporters behind the team and manager now. Maybe you're not really a Liverpool fan....

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  13. Hmm - maybe I'm 'not really a Liverpool fan'. I can honestly say, I've never been accused of that before (!)

    So, 'I can't stand Benitez?'? A little overwrought don't you think? I am a *critic* of Benitez, and every time I criticise him, I lay out my argument and do my best to explain in detail.

    There is nothing wrong with being a critic of the manager. Those fans who always pop up and slam me for being critical should think about who *they* criticise on a regular basis and stop being so hypocritical.

    I would argue that ever football fan has players they like less than others, and those players get the brunt of their criticism week in week out. Why is that okay and me criticising Benitez is so wrong?!

    If I was just writing 'benitez is a c**t all the time, it would be a different story. but I don't do that.

    The points I make about Benitez all have validity, and just because a view is unpopular doesn't make it any less valid.

    And do I ever write anything positive? All the time, actually.

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  14. This is the most important point - rafa has never had to RESORT to having many 17yr olds on the bench in MUST WIN GAMES.

    fergie had NO choice today so he gambled and won.
    Would he have even been in the squad today if the others were all fit and available? The answer is most definitly no. I dont see how that can be argued. Hyperthetical at best.

    Rafa has "gambled" with the youngest players on his bench. It doesnt matter if babel cost 11mil he is still a risk over playing other, more experienced players.

    Keene started several games, missed several chances. If he had scored some more of those easy chances he might still be a Liverpool player. (But this is a whole different topic).

    So rafa decideds to give Ngog some experience in games earlier in the season, when they arent quite as much "must win" as at the end of the season. Which you critisised him for.

    Its only the fiasco of the whole keene situation ( which occured for whatever reason) that is muddying my point about Ngog.

    Ignore the fact that Ngog had replaced Keene and just accept that this season rafa has brought on a 19 yr old ( the youngest player on his bench),unproven striker in an effort to win games.

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  15. Roay Evans didn't 'resort' to Michael Owen in 1997 - he had him on the bench because he had faith in his ability.

    Souness didn't 'resort' to Robbie Fowler - again, he saw his talent and brought him into the team.

    The Keane Ngog situation is not relevant to this discussion.

    Babel is 23. He's a first team player (apparently). He's been at the club 2 years. He's had lots of experience in playing for the furst team.

    How is Babel a relevant comparison here?

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  16. Are you paul merson in disguise the most negative person out there, Why the hell are you complaining we won the game and your upset that it wasnt seen some from the youth team , If there good enough there old enough some players arent ready till there 20 or so and some players are

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  17. Ok, point made about the "not taking risks" part. Even if true, that is not what has been missing from our season. Torres and Gerrard consistently being fit, together. Finishing in the "easier" matches.

    We haven't been put in a position where we *need* to chuck on a 17 year old, unproven striker.

    Charlie.

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  18. Anonymous - What has this article got to do with whether we won yesterday? Where did I suggest someone from the youth team should have been on the becn?

    I made an analogy and used yesterday's game as my example. That's all.

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  19. It's not about needing to play 17 year olds - it's about being willing to show your faith in such players and bring them into the team more often. Historically, many of the premiership's most successful players were brought into their respective teams at very young ages. Just look at the likes of Fowler, McManaman, Owen...all of Man U's young players from the 90s...Fabregas at Arsenal...the list goes on.

    If a young player - even someone who is 17/18 - shows promise, don't leave them langushing in the reserves for another 3/4 years. ACT. Bring them into the team and maybe we'll uncover another Owen or Fowler.

    I appreciate that some youngsters need time to develop and are not ready at such a young age, but are we really expected to be believe that in the last 12 years, *not one* of LFC's dozens of young players has been good enough?

    I'm sorry, but I just don't accept that.

    What has happened is simple: Houllier and Benitez just do not have the same faith or belief in bringing through youngsters, and LFC has suffered as a result. T

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  20. 'Roay Evans didn't 'resort' to Michael Owen in 1997 - he had him on the bench because he had faith in his ability.'

    I think u'll find that the only reason Owen was on the bench was that one of Collymore or Fowler was injured (can't remember which but am 100% sure one of them was injured).

    Also how do you know that Rafa would have brought Park on? Didn't realize you are psychic. Park is a winger/attacking midfielder; striker was needed, when has Rafa ever played Riera up front?

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  21. Yes, which makes it the same situation as Ferguson-Macheda. If you watch the interview with Evans after the game, he lays out why he had Owen on the bench and how he's been wanting to bring him into the first team etc.

    I think another key thing here is, what happened after Owen scored that goal? Did he disappear into obscurity and get loaned out to Hull City to get first team experience?

    No - Evans kept faith with him and rest is history.

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  22. If you have ever read or listened to Rafa's interview with regards to young players, you would know that he doesn't believe in playing them too much before they're 20-21. His reasoning being that they are more susceptible to long term injuries if they play too many games before then.

    He has a point Owen, Fowler, Redknapp, had shown so much promise when they were young but never reached the heights they promised. There are other examples as well from many other clubs. Please don't reply using Wayne Rooney as an example, cos he never played as much as those 3 when he was younger.

    I must say all your articles about formations and tactics reek of someone who only watches Liverpool on TV. Tell me how many games have you been to this season, or ever for that matter?

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  23. Anonymous - I don't need to justify myself to you re number of games I've been to. Think what you like - makes no difference to me. *I* know how many games I've been to, and that's good enough for me.

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  24. Yes the history is that Michael Owen suffers from many injuries even more so than what he suffered at Liverpool. If you recall, he never amassed 20 leagure goals for Liverpool in a season, cos he was out injured a lot.

    Out of all our young players at the moment, Insua is pretty much a 1st teamer (LB slot is between him and Aurelio), and possibly Darby deserves a shot. Others are not ready. Nemeth has just started playing again after an injury hit season. Tell me which youngster would you play?

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  25. Souness and Evans probably didnt have a whole host of players to choose from and Owen and Fowler were exceptional talents, even at that age.

    What has that got to do with wether rafa takes chances or not? Totally different squads and situations. We dont know what rafa would have done with those players because he , unfortunatly, doesnt have the option of picking them. So that is irrelevant.

    We can only fairly judge rafa on the players he has at his disposal and how he has utilised them.

    Babel and Ngog are relevant because they are the youngest players that rafa has HAD to play.

    Fergie HAD to include whatsis name because he had no one left. fergie would not have included him if everyone is fit. It wasnt a master stroke, he had no choice.

    We cant judge rafa on situations that havent arisen and we havent been that short that weve had to include a 17yr old.

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  26. and the rest is history..we still didn't win the league..96/97 we came 4th in a 2 horse race..oh dear

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  27. All I'm saying is that you get a much better perspective of the game when you're actually in the stadium. Your defensive tone suggests that this is an issue with you.

    It's also brilliant how you only answer parts of post which you can make a comeback to. There were 2 longer paragraphs of text before the question of your match attendance.

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  28. Jaimie, to be fair, Macheda wasn't brought "through the ranks" at United; he was poached from the Lazio youth system. Apparently it caused quite a furore because the compensation Lazio received was not deemed adequate for a potential Italy international. In any case, Ferguson said earlier this week that he would consider playing him so it's not that surprising, really.

    I don't think your argument about Benitez is tenable in this case. Last year when we played Arsenal in the league, Benitez gave Plessis his debut. This was an important game against a team who were above us in the Premier league at that time. Predictably, you will say that we were due to play them in the Champions League 2nd leg in the next game, and therefore Benitez did not consider the league match a "must-win game". I'll leave that to you to discern.

    Now you can argue that he was 20 and Macheda is 17 but that's a specious point. Age is not any indication of talent. If you're good enough, you will play. The fact is, they were both young and untested, having never been part of the first time before.

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  29. Anonymous - you need to seriously check your facts before making such inaccurate points about Michael Owen.

    1. Between 1997 and 2004, Owen was near the top of the appearance charts *every season*.

    2. He was NOT out injured a lot. The only season injuries had a sginificant impact was 99-00.

    3. He never scored more than 20 *league* goals a season that is correct, but what does that prove? His overall goalscoring record is superb:

    97-98 - 23
    98-99 - 23
    99-00 - 12
    00-01 - 24
    01-02 - 28
    02-03 - 28
    03-04 - 19

    Liverpool's top scorer for 7 years. Could you please explain what your point about Michael Owen is exactly. Thanks.

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  30. Anonymous - you make all the assumptions you like about whether I go to games or not. Whether I do or not is my business. Unlike you, I'm not so inscure that I need to validate my fan status my boasting in public that I go to x, y and z game.

    I'm well aware of the benefits of attending games - I don't need you to condescend to tell me.

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  31. Anonymous - I only answer parts of comments that need answering or I haven't answered already. Your point about Rafa only playing youngsters when they're 21 - personally, I think such a policy is complete and utter nonsense, but I've stated this over and over on other threads. I try and limit the times I repeat myself.

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  32. Kais Sabir - whether Macheda came through the ranks is not the most important consideration here. He is a 17 year odl player who has never played in the first team before, and was thrown on in a crucial *must-win* game for United at the expense of Park, a very experience, attack minded player.

    Yes, Plessis was brought on against Arsenal and he had a good game. Tell me, what has happened to Plessis since? He's disappeared into obscurity and has not been given any chance to build upon that. Great stuff!

    Yes, if you are good enough you will play, but are we to believe that in the last 12 years, not one of Liverpool's academy/reserve team has been good enough to establish themselves in the first team?

    I just don't believe that - the players just have not been given a consistent chance to make an impact. History has proven - especially at Liverpool - that if you have a policy of having faith in young players, even those betwee 17 and 20, then that faith will be rewarded.

    Such a policy is long dead though, which means young players in that age group with the potential are just not being given the same chances they were in the past.

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  33. "It's also brilliant how you only answer parts of post which you can make a comeback to. There were 2 longer paragraphs of text before the question of your match attendance."
    from anon comment above

    You always do this . Please try and answer the important parts of peoples comments.

    You brought up owen when he has no relevance to the debate. We dont know what rafa would have done with these players ,of EXCEPTIONAL ability, so whats the point in talking about them. Just to deflect from the original debate?

    You havent answered Kais-Sabir post which would be far more relevant to the original topic than arguing about how many goals owen has scored.

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  34. Anonymous - perhaps you missed the post above which starts 'Kais Sabir'. I think that constitutes a reply to his post, does it not?

    I think you also missed the post at 9:19, where anonymous raised the issue of Michael Owen. I responded - I did not bring it up.

    Perhaps you should read the posts properly before making inaccurate assertions?

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  35. sorry post crossed you have sort have answered Kais Sabir. but you do tend to ignore a lot of other peoples comments

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  36. Anonymous - read the comment guidelines above the comment box. Your posts were deleted because you're incapable of presenting your argument without resorting to insults.

    Post your views in a civilised manner and I will respond to them. Keep moaning about how my views are rubbish and blah blah blah and I'll keep deleting your posts. This site is for proper adult debate, not petty sniping.

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  37. Anonymous - I do not ignore comments at all. I answer everything that I haven't already answered previously.

    You state that I 'tend to ignore lots of peoples' comments'. This presupposes you have proof that I do this. Fine - Please post a list of of comments that I have apparently 'ignored'.

    Or is, as I supsect, just another case of rampant, unfounded generalisation?

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  38. michael owen blah blah blah..we still didn't win the league with him.

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  39. 8:53 Roay Evans didn't 'resort' to Michael Owen in 1997 - he had him on the bench because he had faith in his ability.

    I believe it was you that brought up owen. Perhaps you should read your own posts before making even more inaccurate assertions?

    Brining up owen ( fowler ,fabregas) and how his EXCEPTIONAL talent was utilised by another manager is not a fair comparison of rafas situation.

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  40. Cally - your IP is blocked, which means that every post of yours is deleted within a minute of it being posted. You are awaare of that, aren't you? But carry on, by all means :-)

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  41. You asked me to provide a list before of comments you were ignoring on another article.
    I provided the list and you ignored it.

    I`m not going to waste my time again, just read through the comments and you will see which bits you have ignored.

    The post above proves that you struggle to remember what you have written though.

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  42. Proper adult debate is one thing but cherry picking the debates that you think are worthy of your obviously higher inteligence is tantamount to censorship. I am amazed that a Liverpool fanzine that is run by Liverpool supporters can spread this ill thought out analogies as adult debate. You are building an argument against Benetiz on one strike by a substitute that would not have been made if the manager who made it had not been forced into it by injuries and suspensions. Now is that reactionary or well thought out debate. Hummm, I am sure that you werent preparing this article out when you woke up this morning. As fro the rules of the website, I will abide by them, and leave you to your cyber space empire. There are plenty of other websites that I can access to present my ill thought out arguments and petty snipping on (although, I would say that your article is petty sniping at Benetiz!) YNWA.

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  43. he just keeps baiting the hook and reeling them in.
    juicy bait this time mmmm.

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  44. I don't 'cherry-pick' debates at all! What nonsense. I try and respond to everything. I don't respond to stuff I've already answered in the same thread. Who has the time? If I did that, I would just repeating myself over and over again.

    Again, I pose the question for the 100th time: If you don't like the views on this site, why bother reading them, let alone wasting your time commenting? It really is mystifying to me!

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  45. its easy to say what a brave move it was in hindsight...but if united would have lost i'm sure everyone would be saying what a silly move it was to bring on an untried kid when a relitively experienced park was another option...

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  46. Its not mystifying at all.

    You are now linked from News Now which gathers all Liverpool stories in one place.

    A lot of Liverpool fans are seeing your articles for the 1st time and feel strongly about your views.

    Youve said yourself that your views are in the minority so you shouldnt be surprised when people dissagree.

    They then try to put their own ( mostly well thought out) perspective on your , mostly negative views, only to have their opinion either dissmissed or glossed over ( dare I say ignored). You very rarely agree with anyone in the comments, and when you do its always yes but...

    This can be anoyying so they probably start hurling insults, then leave never to return.

    But a fresh batch catches your next article on News Now and the cycle begins again.

    Not mystifying at all.

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  47. i understand that people have a right to be critical of a manager...some of rafa's decisions over the last few years have infuriated me...but i've read a few of your articles and it seems you are just waiting to have a pop at rafa at every opertunity. yes he does make some baffling decisions at times...but even you must agree we are moving forward.we are still in with a shout in the league and going well in the champions league..rafa has raised our clubs profile both at home and abroad dramatically and is slowly building a squad to compete consistantly on all fronts...i seem to see you praising man utd and ferguson quite abit and u never seem to have anything positive to say about liverpool even when things are going well...and that my friend is mystifying

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  48. Anonymous - In the last week, over a thousand comments have been deleted, most of which were *you're a c**t* type things. The comments that make their argument in the right way are the *minority* not the majority.

    And it's absolute fantasy to sggest I gloss over/ignore comments. Have you read *every thread* on this site that contains comments? No, so stop making pointless generalisations.

    The fact that i disagree with most comments is hardly surprising, considering my views are so different to most other peoples'. It's all in the way you look at it though - According to you, it's ME disagreeing with everyone else, when in actual gact, it's the opposite: everyone else disagreeing with me.

    But that's the nature of debate, so what's your problem?! If everyone agreed with each other life would be boring.

    So what are you moaning about exactly?

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  49. Anonymous - I see your point. I appreciate that it looks like I'm having a pop at Benitez, but it just so happens that many of the issues that interest me about LFC at the moment just happen to involve the Manager.

    If you look back through the history of posts on the site, you'll find months go by without any reference to Benitez. Things have come to a head this season with so many issues to discuss, and as I said, Benitez is involved in nearly all of them.

    And in these issues, it just so happens that I disagree with the manager and his philosophy. That is my right, is it not?

    Similarly, those people who love Benitez and are constantly praising him have the right to hold their views. You don't see me going onto another Liverpool site and saying 'You're too positive!'. Each to their own.

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  50. Er I can remember a few such scenarios:

    Neil Mellor v Arsenal.

    Pognolle & Mellor v Olympiacos

    Le Tallec v Juve

    Further back Plessis v Arsenal last year - that took real balls

    Hobbs had a few games

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  51. ok...of course everyone is entitled to their own views...i completely respect that..but i just don't understand how things have "come to a head" this season when its been quite a good season for us seeing as we are traditionally well out of the title race by now!

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  52. like every fan...i get angry with benitez when his decisions go wrong and he is a genious when things are going well...thats the nature of being a fan...its emotional..but even when things are going well u find something negative to say..usually comparisons to ferguson and united...i quietly respect ferguson as a manager for what he has acheived but you will never catch me praising him or united...these are our fiercest rivals!plus i despise the way the media/referees/pundits are constantly up his arse gushing over him..we dont need liverpool fans doin the same!

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  53. What a crap thing to say, there has been quite a few times rafa has put on in el zhar or ngog as a last throw of the dice even when keane was on the bench!
    Manure had a weakend side today so not suprisingly they had a bench full of relatvely unknowns
    he got lucky!!!

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  54. I do not gush over United - In fact, in the 18 or so months this site has been online, there are only about 4 or 5 articles that reference Ferguson in a positive way. Out of 180+ articles, I don't find that to be too bad.

    I just don't see being a fan the same way you do. I can't be bothered wasting energy hating our rivals, and the notion that you cannot praise a rival manager is ridiculous to me.

    Bill Shankly himself repeatedly praised rival managers, including United manager at the time Matt Busby. Shankly called him 'the greatest manager that's ever live' If it's okay for Shankly, then it's okay for me.

    if people can't hack that, that's just too bad!

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  55. Mellor - 22 at the time of the Arsenal game. Previous 1st team experience. A promising player. Dumped from the club by Benitez.

    Pongolle - 21 at the time of Olympiacos. Previous first team experience. A promising player (who is now doing quite well). Dumped from the club by Benitez

    Le Tallec - 21 at the time of Juventus. Started the game, not a sub. Dumped from the club by Benitez.

    Hobbs - Played a handful of games in 2007-08 season. Received praise for good performances. Dumped from the first team by Benitez. Sent out on loan twice. Last seen at Leicester city.

    Hmmm - I see a pattern emerging here...

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  56. I`m not moaning about anything.

    You were mystified why people commented on your site and I gave my opinion as to why they were. And I still stand by that opinion.

    I havent read every thread but I have read quite a few, several in fact.

    Ive seen the way you answer comments, even the way you answered my last post comes across as a little aggressive.

    And ive been involved in several threads where you just stop answering to move onto the next, in many peoples eyes, sensational article.

    I am sure you do delete a lot of posts for swearing , but some people have strong opinions about your views and , unfortunatly, cant express them any other way ( just look at the comments in the republic of mancunia blogs to see the level people will descend to)

    I dont quite understand the point you were trying to make with who was disagreeing with who?

    My point was that some of your views are in the minority (something you have said yourself) so you sholdnt be mystified why people would try and question them.

    I am not saying people shouldnt have diferent opinions about subjects just trying to explain why people are coming to this site and posting comments.

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  57. the truth is don't fix something that isn't broken. in fact, the machine that is Liverpool right now is in full throttle and everyone's calling us world beaters not without a reason!

    mancs are broken. or at least they have been recently. bringing on youngsters and keeping his fingers crossed that they would turn the tide is one of the many tricks that have seen fergie through the ages. call it luck or belief in his young players but i'm pretty sure he would've brought on berbatov (or rooney for that matter) if he was fit.

    what would've happened if macheda hadn't scored? are you saying mr. alex prophet would carry on playing him more even when berbatov and rooney return from injury?

    there's a thin line that separates courage/guts from stupidity and thankfully Rafa didn't cross that line. call me a fair weather fan or a cynic but i honestly doubt Nemeth/ Pacheco could have done what Yossi did.

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  58. that being said, i agree that Rafa could've experimented with young players (not in the mould of El Zhar whom i feel is NOT good enough for Liverpool. period. i confess to moaning each time Rafa brought him on.)

    in the boro game for example, there was nothing much to lose considering how we were playing so badly that most of us who call ourselves fans were on the verge of tears. Rafa could've brought on Pacheco or Nemeth. again, this is all hypothetical and no one really knows what goes on at Melwood.

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  59. Anonymous - so you're suggesting that there is such a rampant lack of self control in the world that people are incapable of posting in a message board without swearing and insulting others?

    I don't care how compelling someone's comment is - if it starts off with 'you're a f***ing idiot and full of sh*t', then it will be deleted.

    If they want to have a proper discussion, they can repost and just focus on the issues.

    Anyone who doesn't like that policy can go and snipe to their heart's content on the hundreds of LFC message boards out there that are plagued with spam.

    I'm not mystified when people question my views - stop muddying the issue - I'm mystified as to why people keep coming on here and saying things like 'I hate your views, you don't know what you're talking about, I hate this site!'

    And many of the same people keep coming back to say the same things, which is the mystifying part.

    People are more than welcome to question my views - I welcome it - but if they can't control themselves and stay out of personal attack territory, then their comments will be zapped. End of story.

    And re answering comments - stop being so churlish. Do you know how many comments I reply to every day?! Hundreds sometimes. Is it not possible that maybe, just maybe, I might miss some out by accident sometimes?! What am I, frickin' robot?! ;-)

    I think I do pretty well when it comes to responding to comments actually. I don't diss people, I try and respond to every comment and I always try and explain myself.

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  60. I have to hand it to you, Cally - 'Insufferable little maggot' made me laugh. It's not as good as 'Debased Hack' though, which is my favourite insult of the last week :-D

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  61. I can't be arsed to read through ALL the previous comments but has anyone mentioned the Wigan game at home when we were trailing 2-1 and Rafa brought on El Zhar? Within minutes he helped set up the equaliser, so I don't think your article is completely accurate my old mate !

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  62. you have glossed over the point that fergie was forced into playing the lad today. He was losing and had Park and an unknown striker to choose from.

    Park has only scored twice this season ( as many as Dossena) so probably not going to snatch you a winner.

    the young lad , however, has just scored , i must say, a fine hatrick ( the 3rd was a really nice goal)in the reserves earlier in the week.

    so a coin toss really.

    Answer truthfully please, would he have been on the bench if everyone else had been fit?

    and
    If he hadnt have scored would you have written the same article?

    You say hobbs got a couple of games and disappeared so lets see how many games Macheda plays between know and the end of the season.
    Bet it wont be many.

    You glossed over the owen point by just saying you hadnt brought him up ( when you had ) and didnt answer the important bit of the post.

    You brought up owen ( in the 8:53 comment) trying to say that rafa wouldnt have given him his chance. None of the players you and others have listed ( mellor etc) are anywhere near as good as owen. So how can you say how rafa would deal with players of such talent?

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  63. I didn't gloss over the Owen point at all - clearly missed my post at 9.29pm in which I responded to the earlier post about Michael Owen.

    Fergie was not forced into playing him - he played him because he's a promising player who , as you say, scored a hatr trick for the reserves recently. His form elevated him into the first team.

    Nemeth has scored lots of goals for the reserves. Has he had a sniff of the first team?

    Whether he would;ve been on the bench if everyone is fit is irrelevent! Ferguson has a history of giving young players a chance, so with that in mind, I have no doubt that Machedo would've got his chance sooner rather than later.

    And yes, I WOULD have written the article if he hadn't scored because to me, the underlying point remains the same: bringing on an unproven, 17 year old player in place of an experienced player ina vital must-win game.

    This aspect of it is far more intersting to me than the actual scoring of the goal. I'm sure this is evident from the article, considering I spend one line talking about the goal and the rest of the time discussing the risk aspect and why it's so refreshing.

    Re Owen and Rafa giving him a chance - in considering whether Rafa would've given Owen his chance we have to look at the available evidence.

    Q. Is there any evidence whatsoever to suggest that Rafa *would* give a young player of Owen's quality a consistent run in the team? NO. If there is, please outline it.

    Q. Is there any evidence to suggest that Rafa *would not* give a young player of Owen's quality a consistent run in the team? Hell yes! Pleanty of evidence! 5 years of evidence in fact.

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  64. The difference is that ManUtd have no other striker on bench and they are on losing (1-2)position. ManUtd are playing at home when playing Villa. And United's senior players are lacking in confidence after the hammering from Liverpool and Fulham the weeks before then.

    Anyway, what is there to compare when Rafa is making the right decision at the moment when Liverpool is in the winning streak with his right decisions.

    YNWA

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  65. I didnt miss the comment at 9.29pm. That was answering someone elses point I hadnt made.

    You brought up owen, implying that rafa wouldnt play him if he had him in his squad. I pointed out the desparity in skill between owen and the youngsters rafa has today.

    Q. Is there any evidence to suggest that Rafa *would not* give a young player of Owen's quality a consistent run in the team? Hell yes! Pleanty of evidence! 5 years of evidence in fact.

    Owens quality? Fowlers quality ? Really ?who are these players that rafa hasnt given a chance?

    You mention nemeth but he has been injured for most of the season. Couldnt play him. Who else?

    Manuchos form did not elevate him into the 1st team for this game.

    You can not seriously believe that it did? So having all his other attackers either injured or banned had no bearing on the descision?

    He had to have him on the bench ,then he was forced to gamble on him to keep their season alive. Lets see how many more games he plays this season.

    He certainly hasnt had a run of games yet. Can you name me all the other youngsters that have had a consistent run in the manu team this season? Not too many.

    "the underlying point remains the same: bringing on an unproven, 17 year old player in place of an experienced player ina vital must-win game

    the very thing you critisised rafa doing with Ngog. You cant have it both ways.

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  66. Actually I`ll save you the bother.

    Manucho played 0 sub (3)
    Danny Welbeck 5(5) Ngog has played more Fraizer Campbell 1 El Zhar has played more
    Zoran Tosic (2)
    Anderson 22(6) Lucas slightly less
    Nani 20(5) about as many as babel
    Rodrigo Possebon 3(4) plesis has played 4
    Tom Cleverley 0
    Fabio da Silva 18(3) mostly due to injuries
    Fabio da Silva 1 Insua 8(1)
    James Chester 0(1)
    Jonny Evans 21(4) mostly due to injuries
    Ben Foster 5 Cavalieri 4 i know hes not young but he is our reserve.

    I havent even mentioned Darby or Spearing.

    So we can see by this that fergie has made no more use of his younger players than rafa has his.

    The only players that have had a consistant run in the team are ones that were covering for long term injuries to all of the senior players in that position.

    ie. right back.Rafael da Silva has covered for wes brown and gary nevilles long term injuries.

    We havent had to deal with that situation . Insua has filled in for Doss and Aurelio but they both havent been out long term at the same time ,like the manu players. We have 4 top class centre backs, why should Hobbs play ahead of them? Fergie wouldnt do it consistently so why should we?

    To sum up it doesnt seem like we are doing anything different to manu regarding developing youngsters.

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  67. Jaimie, surely you must be able to concede that if Rooney and Berbatov were available, then Macheda would not even be on the bench. As I said in my last post, Fergie had already stated his intention earlier this week for Macheda to make an appearance on account of the fact that he didn't have many attacking options. Whether he would have brought him on if United were not trailing is a matter of conjecture.

    The point is, there were no recognized strikers on the bench, bar Welbeck, and the decision to bring him on was a tactical choice; because by all accounts he is strong in the air, holds up the ball well and is a good finisher (as he proved today). But the only reason Fergie could *make* the choice to bring him on is because both his other first choice strikers were missing.

    I also fail to see your point with respect to Plessis. The reason he has not made too many more appearances is because of the rather trivial fact that the Argentinian captain and a Brazilian international are direct competition for his position. But Plessis still played in the league cup against Crewe in September, where in fact he was named captain, despite the presence of a certain Sami Hyypia in the side. Call me demented, but I think that's an example of giving young players a chance.

    Also, Macheda has (obviously) only played one game for United so far, so your comparison between him and Plessis not featuring since is a vacuous one. The only way your eristic theory will be reinforced is if Macheda continues to play in the first team, despite the return of Rooney and Berbatov. Let's wait and see what happens.

    Furthermore, your argument about Mellor, Sinama, Le Tallec, and others being "dumped" is the most preposterous stuff I've heard since Sepp Blatter last opened his mouth. The reason they were disposed of is because they were simply not good enough. Have these "dumped" players reached the pinnacle of success that might cause any Liverpool fan to regret their departure? I think not.

    Predictably, you will aver, as you have in the past re:Baros, that Benitez "ruined" their attacking instinct and "destroyed" their confidence rendering them incapable of achieving their potential. Again, this is utter tripe. If he was such a Malevolent, Destructive Force of All Players That Are Attacking and Creative as you incessantly claim, then surely a support group would have been formed by now. I googled "Rafa F****d up my Finishing Ability - Help!" but unfortunately nothing came up.

    Bentley, Sidwell, Upson and others were not considered good enough for Arsenal and were subsequently let go, only to find success at less accomplished clubs. Most of the Liverpool youth players that were sold/released by Benitez have not succeeded in this respect, which reiterates my point that these youth players "not given an opportunity" were just not good enough.

    The unequivocal truth is that Houllier's record of buying youth players was deplorable. For someone who putatively had such vast knowledge of the European talent market, he made some egregious choices with his youth policy. Apparently he was instrumental in France's 98 win because he had identified/nurtured many of those players. Yet his signings from France were woeful - Bruno "Zidane" Cheyrou, Vignal, Traore, and countless others. The fact is that since Evans resigned, our success rate with youth players ascending to the first team has been terrible, and this is a damning indictment of Houllier's youth policy, not the fault of Benitez.

    By the way, Nemeth was injured for three months at the beginning of the season and then was sent out on loan to get match fit and first team experience, only to get injured again. Pacheco has not featured in the team yet because he is not fully physically developed. If you watched him in preseason, he had brilliant skill, but was muscled off the ball too easily.

    And seriously, why would Rafa deliberately not play quality young players? You make it seem like he has an agenda against "taking risks" by playing youth. I would bet my foreclosed home that in the future, we will see more of Rafa's youth signings, in addition to Insua, Plessis and the like, featuring in the team. It is economically prudent to buy players when they are young and cheap, so I can't for the life of me understand why Rafa would have some ulterior motive for excluding players who are good enough from the first team squad and waste money on subpar older players instead. It's counter-intuitive to behave this way, and surely you must be able to appreciate that.

    Finally, I think you make you a spurious leap of logic when you speculate about Benitez's potential decisions had he been in Fergie's position. There are so many vagaries to consider that it's completely to futile to even contemplate.

    By the way, I don't mean to be a pedant, but since you are being accused of selective debate, might I point out that you have still not responded to my lengthy post regarding your comments to the Republik of Mancunia website (despite promising to do so).

    Cheers.

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  68. Anonymous - Are you serious? Ferguson is renowned for giving your players a chance at Old Trafford. Look back through his entire history as Man U manager, not just one season. Even looking back over the last 5 years reveals this to be true.

    To suggest that Rafa and Ferguson have the same policy on youth is clearly wide of the mark.

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  69. So jaime.. Are you suggesting he was on bench because he had no talent?
    This guy had scored a hatrick early on in the week in the reserves..

    Be him 17 or 27.. fergie or any other manager would rather bring on an available striker, rather then a midfielder or winger in context with what was going on in the game..

    I must i question your true intentions with these articles. Or maybe your just s very difficult LIVERPOOL fan to satisfy?!

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  70. Kais - subtle snidery aside, Good points. I'll address them one by one:

    Macheda I do not concede that Macheda would not have been on the bench if Rooney and Berbatov were fit.

    Look at United's bench today: Welbeck, Foster, Park, Gibson, Macheda, Eckersly. If Rooney and Berba were fit, then 2 players who did play would drop to the bench. The question is, which of Gibson, Macheda and Eckersly would drop out of the squad?

    Is it not probable that Gibson and Eckersley would drop out and Macheda - given his hat trick for the reserves - would stay on the bench? Of course it is! If not, why not?

    Plessis - Signed for Liverpool in August 2007. Since then, he's managed just 7 appearances in the first team. In the other 100+ games LFC have played in his time at the club, he hasn't even made the bench! Yes, this is clearly an example of giving the player a chance.

    I made no comparison between Plessis and Macheda. I merely stated the fact that after Plessis was given his debut, he disappeared from first tea, consideration. There was no link to Macheda on this point.

    Mellor, Sinama and Le Tallec So they're not good enough just because you say so?! Mellor did well for Liverpool; he scored some vital goals *when given the chance*. He ceased to be given the chance and thus could not make an impact.

    Sinama was a perfectly good member of the squad, and a far better option than the likes of Voronin.

    Le Tallec I agree with in part, but then again, he was barely given a run in the team by either Houllier or Benitez.

    Are any of the young players Rafa has brought to the club any better? If so, who?

    I agree with you re Houllier's youth policy, and with the fact that it has been failing ever since Roy Evans left, but Benitez is just as much to blame as Houllier, as he has brought in some woeful players, overstuffed Liverpool's squad with young players that are never going to make it *and* does not bring enough youth players through the ranks.

    Nemeth + Pacheco Nemeth was injured for the first 3 months of this season. Fine. He was signed in Summer 2007, and ever since he arrived he has been playing well, scoring goals and earning rave reviews. Why was he not given any opportunities last season?

    And Pacheco is *not fully developed*?! Says who? Michael Owen is slight in build and height, yet he played in the first team when he was 17. Furthermore, Nabil El Zhar and Jay Spearing are the same height as Pacheco and both have been on the fringes of the team,. The *not developed* argument does not hold water.

    Rafa playing young players - Whatever way you spin it, one pertinent fact remains: In his 5 years in charge not one player from the reserves has become anywhere near to being established in the first team. Furthermore, not one has even been given a consistent chance to impress. Like Hobbs, Plessis, Spearing etc, they come and go. Play one or two games then disappear for 8 months or go out on loan for a few years then get sold.

    Benitez doesn't deliberately exclude, however, it is clear that he does not have faith in the young players at LFC, most of whom he has brought in. He prefers cheap imports to fill out the squad instead of promoting from the reserves. Is it too much to ask that one or two reserve players are given a consistent chance?!

    What possible logic is there in bringing players like Degen to the club when we have players in the reserves who can play that position?! This is the main difference between Ferguson and Benitez: Ferguson DOES promote from the reserves to fill squad places. Benitez invariably does not.

    Benitez's decisions in Fergie's position - Why is the logic 'spurious'. People speculate every day about football, even you. There is nothing wrong with my logic on this issue.

    *Based on Benitez's past and present history in relation team selections/formation/approach etc, is it more probable that in Ferguson's position he would have:

    a) Brought on Machedo
    b) Brought on Park

    You can dismiss the point all you like but any objective observer would conclude that based on Benitez's history, he would have chosen Park.

    And re your other post - My apologies, I just forgot. I reply to hundreds of comments a day, and I miss some. Is that so surprising?

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  71. Point being it was hardly a gamble...he no choice but to do the common sense move and bring on the only available striker as tevez looked terrible.. And that he did, with reward.

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  72. It was a throw of the dice for Ferguson, he had no choice with the other strikers injured/suspended. Park is crap so that's why he didn't put him on, he's not likely to score at any stage, never mind at the end of a game which if lost could totally derail the title they had supposedly in the bag. If Liverpool were in the same position Utd were in, Rafa probably would have had Nemeth on the bench and brought him on, however, we'll never know.
    The day before, Liverpool were 0-0 which at this stage of the season like been a goal down and Rafa showed he has balls and put on Yossi to get the winner. That'll do me.

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  73. Anonymous - Macheda came on for Nani, not Tevez. Wellbeck replaced Tevez in the 87th minute.

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  74. Rafa is Rafa, Ferguson is Ferguson so who cares what the F Ferguson do? Rafa knows what he is doing, so let him do it his way.

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  75. you have once again missed the point.

    look at my list of how many games the manu youth has been played THIS season.

    I dont care that fergie brought through giggs, beckham and scholes over 10 years ago. Its not relevant to how he uses youth TODAY.

    It took 5 years of fergies reign before giggs appeared anyway and another 2 ( 7 years) for the others to be regularly played.

    Compare this season and you can clearly see that rafa has , IN FACT, used MORE youth players than fergie has. Indesputable.

    After chelsea out spent him and won the league twice fergie said they have had to react to that and do things differently.

    this has resulted in him not playing youth players as often as you insist that he does.
    Why did he spend 30 odd mill on Berbatov when he has all these brilliant youth players?

    he already had ronaldo,tevez and rooney, why would he spend so much on another attacking player if he had so much faith in his youngsters?

    What youth player, in the last 5 years , has established himself in the manu team? NONE

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  76. You say the last minute goal was a knife in the chest, just how we felt when Liverpool got one the previous day then :-)

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  77. "call me a fair weather fan or a cynic but i honestly doubt Nemeth/ Pacheco could have done what Yossi did."

    Not just the manager that doesn't think they're not good enough then? ;-)

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  78. Jamie - most mancs dont like Rafa - scousers and the media know that - get over it son. You still have the officials in your pockets... 5 mins anyone..

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  79. How many players in the last 12 years have been given a chance and been successful at Man U? Or Chelsea? And i'm talking about after the Beckham/Chuckle Brothers/Scholes etc era.

    Arsenal are the only team that give youngsters a chance. And not all those that play well stay on. Rafa doesn't need to select his young players as he has older more experienced players.

    Rafa has not had to decide whether to put on a 17 year old striker or an experienced winger to win a game. So there's no comparison to draw here.

    This kid could quote as easily have done nothing and the gamble backfired. But as it always seems with United, it doesn't (oh, except for Fergie's masterstroke in leaving Rooney on the bench against Fulham).

    Personally i'd prefer to not have to rely on a 17 year old to win a game in the 93rd minute, so i'd more than happy if a Rafa 'comparison' never has to happen. But no doubt, if it did, if he thinks the player is right, he'll put him on.

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  80. I found it slightly amusing when Jaimie stopped replying in the comments on the other article about rafas youth policy.

    I had asked him to give me a list of the youth players that had consistenly played for manu in the last 5 years and recieved no reply. It was the last serious post in the thread and he had replied to something else right below it. So he must have seen it.

    Anyway, after having compiled a list in this thread detailing the amount of playing time the manu youth has got compared to the liverpool youth, I now know why he didnt reply.

    He probably went to make his list and then to his horror realised that there arent any manu youth players that have had this consistent chance.

    therefore proving that rafa is doing pretty much the same as fergie when it comes to the amount of playing time that youth players get.

    As ive said even with his golden crop. Giggs took 5 years, the rest another 2 before they were played consistently.

    7 years to bring through some of the best players to have graced the premiership ( not just any old youth player - Luke Chadwick anyone.)

    So rafa has been here 5 years, how many players is he expected to have brought through the ranks in that time? Bearing in mind that this year he has ,at least, matched fergie in how much playing time young players have been given.

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  81. Get over yourself, Anonymous - I'm not responding to your post because I don't need to. I've answered these points endlessly on this thread and others. I don't need to come up with a list of young players being given a chance at United because the answer is OBVIOUS.

    You're trying to twist this from YOUNG PLAYERS into YOUTH PLAYERS. My point has always been that young players get far more of a chance at United than they do at Liverpool. That includes players coming through the ranks and young players brought to the club.

    This is beyond dispute. I don't need to make a list to prove it because it is fact.

    And you completely miss the point *again* as usual, though I suspect that is deliberate.

    1. In the last 12 years, not one YOUNG PLAYER has become established in the Liverpool team. By youngn player I mean an inexperienced player between the ages of, say 16 and 22/23; players who were either in the reserves of brought to the club.

    Rafa has bough dozens of young players; none of them make it. As I argued in another article, the only young-ish players who have made it are those that already have vast experience, i.e. the likes Torres and Mascherano.

    I'm not going to repeat myself any further on this issue.

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  82. "Of course, I feel sick after seeing United snatch their trademark last minute goal,"

    Fulham
    Chelsea

    What are you talking about last minute goal...

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  83. Mellor clearly wasn't good enough and was never going to be no matter how much playing time Rafa or any other top manager gave him whilst playing. That is why he hasn't made it elsewhere - he has found his natural level in the Championship plenty of heart but not good nough to oust Cisse nevermind Torres.

    He had barely any first team experience at the time and was brought on in similar circumstances because all our strikers were out injured.

    As for Macheda - who knows how good he his. He's played 15 mins a scored a single goal. It was a good goal - but come on! Football is littered with kids who've looked great over 15 mins.

    Le Tallec had the talent but clearly didn't have the mentality. Another who has found his level. Pognolle did ok for recreativo but is struggling at Atletico again he simply wasn't good enough.

    You say these players aren't given the games but seriously how can you? No doubt you'll point to Wenger but Wenger is only in a position to do it because he has over a decade under his belt and enough success to buy the time to develop these players. If Rafa had not won anything for the length of time that Wenger has failed he would not have been awarded a new contract and if he had there would have been more than enough socceram fans moaning about it.

    You say he has developed a single youth player in 5 years as if that is somehow unusual. How many youth players have wneger, fergie and mourinho brought through in the last 5 years?

    Lets take Wenger - he payed Southapmton £10m for a raw 17 yerar old Walcott (Rafa probably wanted him but somehow I doubt parry would have been willing to splash that sort of cash on 17 yr old), he poached Fabregas from Barca's youth team - and played him in the first team almost immediately, Denielson and Vela ditto. Diaby bought for a few mill from a french outfit the list goes on. My point is Wneger hasn't genuinely "developed" anyone from their academy system in over 10 years. The latest crop - who at last have been i.e. Wilshere et al look good but have hardly indeed even his latest super kid to be purchased - Ramsey has barely played. Others like Gibbs are out on loan. Do you spot a pattern here?

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  84. Jamie, I apologise if my post above came across as snide. It appears that the more expansive my post gets, the more impassioned I get. No offence intended.

    Now, in response to your points:

    I argued that if Berbatov was fit, and Rooney were not suspended, Macheda would not have been on the bench, much less played on Saturday. I think I was proved half-right today. Macheda and Tevez were the two strikers on the bench today (Berbatov is still injured) and when United required a win today, Tevez and Giggs were brought on. The more experienced players, one of whom admittedly had a terrible game on Sunday, instead of the prodigious youngster who single handedly earned his team 3 points. Evidently, the decision to play Macheda on Sunday was one that Fergie was compelled to do, simply because he had no alternatives, just as I had suggested.



    Plessis - I stated that Plessis has not made the squad on a regular basis because Alonso, Mascherano, Leiva are competition for his place. You asked why he hasn't made the bench. Typically, this is what Benitez's bench has looked like this season:

    1.Goalkeeper (Cavalieri)
    2. Fullback (Dossena/Aurelio/Insua depending on who is starting)
    3. Centreback (Hyypia or Agger since Carra/Skrtel have started most games)
    4. Central Midfielder (Lucas - since Alonso/Masch have started most games).
    5 and 6. 2 wingers or attacking midfielders (Babel/Benayoun/El Zhar - 2 of the 3)
    7. Striker (Ngog)

    So please tell me which of these players should have been replaced by Plessis on the bench, and if so, would this have unbalanced our options for attacking or defensive substitutes in any way?


    Mellor, Sinama and Le Tallec - I never asserted that these players weren't good, "because I said so". What I contended was, had these players possessed sufficient quality, they would have subsequently been signed by teams who discerned their alleged pedigree after having been unceremoniously "dumped" by Rafa.

    The fact that none of these players have made it in a team that is comparable to the quality of Liverpool justifies my argument. The closest, Sinama, has been unable to cement his position in Atletico's first team. This is a team that is not even in the top 5 of La Liga. QED.

    You asked which young players Rafa has brought to the club that would be described as "any better" than the three mentioned above. Insua is one (although unlike the 3 mentioned he is a defender).Sissoko - who was essentially replaced by a superior alternative in Mascherano, Lucas and Babel are a few others, but you will argue that all were a couple of years older than Sinama and Le Tallec when signed.

    However, the ages that all of these players made their debut for the first team - that is when they were deemed good enough to play for the first team - was between 20 and 21 for all of these players. I would argue that Babel has scored more important goals than Sinama and Le Tallec, and Lucas (and Sissoko) has shown himself to be more capable than, say, Cheyrou or even. Insua, is undoubtedly a better defender and full back than Traore was.


    Nemeth + Pacheco - Last season was Nemeth's first at a new club, in a new country. Did you seriously expect him to be thrown straight into the first team? That would be foolish. Not even Macheda played in his first season in England.

    Anyway, when I referenced Pacheco's physical ability, I did not say anything about his height, I made a judgment about him being "muscled off the ball" too easily sometimes during pre-season. He just needs to become stronger in order to compete at the top level, in my estimation.

    If you read Piet Hamberg's interview on the official website which was made a year and a half ago, he said that developing a player is analogous to building a house:

    1. The first step, he says, is the foundation, where management sets goals and inculcate youth with the philosophy of the club.

    2. The second step teaches young players about having the right mentality.

    3. The third step is technical coaching.

    4. The fourth step is tactical development.

    5. The fifth step, or "the roof", as he describes it, is the physical part.

    Evidently, Pacheco is somewhere between stages 4 and 5. According to the Rafa's management philosophy and youth policy, he simply won't appear for the first team until "the house has been built" properly. I don't see how this is unreasonable.

    I agree with Charlie Bibby when she says that we need to be patient in order to judge Rafa's youth policy.

    Benitez's decisions in Fergie's position - really we could argue for days about what Rafa would have done, but it is all conjecture. There is really no point arguing about this. On that note, however, I concur with one of the posters above who claimed that replacing Gerrard with Lucas in the Merseyside derby two seasons ago is as audacious as it gets. That would be akin to Fergie replacing Ronaldo with Fletcher in a must win-game. It just wouldn't happen.

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  85. Jamie - by the way Steve Gerrard born in May 1980 made his debut in 1998 at the age of 18 for the first team,,,He's been there ever since and that is only 11yrs ago. I think you got your selective 12yr cut off point wrong mate.
    Carl.

    "<span style=" color: #3a3a3a; line-height: 16px;">1. In the last 12 years, not one YOUNG PLAYER has become established in the Liverpool team. By youngn player I mean an inexperienced player between the ages of, say 16 and 22/23; players who were either in the reserves of brought to the club."<span style="color: #000000; font-family: Verdana; line-height: normal;"> </span></span>

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  86. Jamie, any LFC fan worth his salt would have known Gerrard came through the youth policy, making his debut in 1998..I really hope this is just another oversite on your part,,maybe you mean't the last 10 yrs lol....

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  87. Oh and Jamie before you say ok that's only one, here is another one for you, and notice it was Rafa who gave hime a new lease of life...
    <span style=" line-height: 19px;">

    Carl

    After being very much on the fringes of the Liverpool squad before Rafael Benitez's arrival at Anfield, Warnock suddenly found himself thrust into the Liverpool first team when the Spanish manager arrived ahead of the 2004/05 season.
    If there was ever the perfect example of a change of manager giving a young player a new lease of life this was it.
    Warnock first began to be noticed at Anfield in 2001/02 with Liverpool's reserve outfit, winning the man-of-the-match award several times
    </span>

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  88. You have - as usual - missed the point of the article.  it is not about youth players coming through; it is about a manager throwing on an untested young player in a MUST WIN GAME SITUATION, as evidenced by the line "<span>So - when was the last time a Liverpool Manager had such guts?'</span>


    Furthermore, Gerrard was not established in the team in 1998, a year in which he played only 5 games.

    The point is, as I said above: when was the last time a Liverpool manager had faith in a young, inexperienced player when the chips were down?

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  89. Warnock was almost 23 when he got his first start for Liverpool.  Again though, you're missing the point: this is about Liverpool managers throwing a young, untested player into the action when the chips are down, like Ferguson did with Macheda, and Houllier did with Owen.  Keep trying though ;)

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