24 Sept 2009

It's time for someone else to step-up at Liverpool FC, but who is it going to be?

As Liverpool transformed itself into an unstoppable juggernaut at the end of last season, one of the primary factors was the dazzling form of Yossi Benayoun. This season, it is crucial that someone else emerges from the pool of inconsistent and underachieving talent currently in the squad and follows in the little midfielder’s footsteps. The question is who will it be?

Realistically, attention focuses on three players: Ryan Babel, Albert Riera and Andrei Voronin. All are internationals and talented footballers, but not one of them is producing the level of performance required to give Rafa Benitez a much-needed selection headache. Goals and assists are the currency of any forward-thinking player and the area where an improvement is urgently required from this trio.

Whether they can do so is another matter.

Babel is the most infuriating. With pace to burn and the proven capacity to strike in big game situations, the Dutchman’s inconsistency drives fans to distraction. Presumably he has the same effect on his teammates, too, as they don’t have the slightest inkling of what to expect from him. With his ill-advised comments to the media rankling further, many would be prepared to cash in, even at the inevitable loss this would entail.

Perhaps a run on the right side is needed in an effort to encourage more crosses like the match winner against West Ham. On the left, Babel’s too predictable – opponents can easily neuter his strength and force him to use his considerably weaker left foot. Given the extravagant outlay he authorised on the winger, Benitez must be tempted to give him one last opportunity - to endorse his eye for a player, if nothing else.

Riera and Voronin are different. It seems less is expected of them. Riera pitches in with consistently middling displays, while the annual touting of Voronin to other clubs demonstrates Rafa’s true valuation of the striker. But if either could raise their game in a manner similar to Benayoun’s improvement it would go some distance in patching up the threadbare nature of the squad.

Of the two, Riera offers more hope. Other than a decent pre-season on arrival, Voronin has done little to make himself a genuine first team option. Riera, however, has tidy, quick feet, an explosive shot and gives the team balance. Despite these assets, the Spaniard rarely imposes himself on a fixture, instead frustratingly drifting in and out of games. It may be that a goal or strong performance is all that is required to coax a run of more incisive form out of him.

Fans will hope someone on the fringes of the first team accepts the challenge of becoming indispensable, as the stakes couldn’t be higher. Without improvement from within, Liverpool’s fate is too dependent on luck with injury. The groundswell of back-slapping which accompanied news of the recent record-breaking shirt sponsorship deal shouldn’t mask the relative lack of investment where it counts – on the pitch.


  1. While I think on the whole this is a pretty accurate article I would say that Riera has put in some excellent displays last season.  It was well known in Spain that on his day he can easily be the best left winger in Europe however he was inconsistant, the trend seems to be continuing.  So more than putting in one good display he has to find a consistancy with his displays.  I have some hope for Babel this season.. perhaps the world Cup looming will give him the extra impetous (SP?) to play the way we hope he can and bring forward the flashes of brillence we have on the rare ocassion seen from him.  As for Voronin...lets hope Hetha come calling in Jan.

  2. <span style="">Me, I'm old school. I still sit near to where I stood with my dad on the kop as 10 year old, back in 1964. Over the years I've stood and chanted the names along with everyone else on the kop, of all the new players making their first team debuts. I have had the privileged to talk to quite a few players over the years, mainly because I play golf. I've have ask them all the same question-how did you feel the first time in front of the kop. The most common answer was "terrified" but I "felt 10 feet tall" when they shouted my name. </span>
    <span style=""> Can't help thinking that since the late 80's and certainly the 90's we have not made players feel as welcome as we did back then. We don't even chant the names of some of the more established players except for the few Torres, Gerrard, Carra and Mascherano only sometimes get the call that must make them feel 10 foot tall. When over those glory years every player had their names chanted before the kick off. I think this would help the likes of </span><span style="">Babel</span><span style=""> and Riera who at least has a song, would feel accepted from the start, instead of them waiting to hear the groans. I think we need to get out the pubs a few minutes earlier and get back to giving all the players a shout before the kick off, and then maybe we will see the likes of </span><span style="">Babel</span><span style="">, Voronin, Dossena and Riera displaying their true potential. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"> </span><span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"> </span><span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"> </span></span>

  3. Babel will improve.

  4. Babel should be playing on the right, that way he can use his pace, as shown against Leeds. Only problem then is where does Kuyt go? The easy answer would be to put him up front with Torres have Yossi on the left and Gerrard in the middle with Masch just behind, and encourage the full backs to get forward often.
    Having Yossi on the left has issues with him being forced to use his left foot also but he cuts inside much earlier than the edge of the box even when he's on the right so i couldn't see that being too much of an issue.  Even if he does get forced out wide he is better than Babel at getting past players

  5. Personally I think it has to be Babel. Riera has put in a number of good performances (although I agree he could be more consistent) and nobody expects much from Voronin! Babel has to play either on the right or as a second striker alongside Torres and with Rafa not likely to change his formation I would stick Babel on the right, Kuyt behind Torres, Benayoun on the left and stevie in the middle with masch. Or if Rafa insists on using Babel as a sub he needs to give him a good 30mins like he did against West Ham in order to give him enough time to influence the game.

  6. I'd like to see another of the reserves break through - after Insua - maybe Pacheco?

  7. I hope Rafa would give more opportunities for player from the accademy.
    With Carra at 31 and Gerrard at 30, We should bring up a new Liverpool base player to continue the club tradition and history.
    Eventhough, some youngsters might not be a Liverpool's born, I still believe the player who came to Liverpool at his 15-18 would love the club.
    In my opinion Ayala performs better than Skrtel. I really think Skrtel is apanic-type defender. He usually loose his feet by throwing himself into tackle and many times his mistakes lead to goals for opponent.
    Ayala is more calm.