5 Nov 2009

ALBERTO AQUILANI is finally fit after 10 weeks yet he still doesn't get on the pitch. Why?

Why didn't Alberto Aquilani play any part of the Lyon game? Can someone please explain to me the logic behind keeping him on the bench for the full 90 minutes because I just don't get it.

Aquilani was on the bench against Lyon therefore he must be fit. He was even warming up at one stage. With Liverpool desperately needing to win, why was Aquilani not introduced into the game?

Lyon were poor all night, and like Liverpool, their team was also plagued with injuries. They were nowehere near full strength for the majority of the game and their collective nervousness was palpable.

Just the kind of environment in which you'd expect a player like Aquilani to thrive. After all, he is renowned for his passing ability and long-range shooting ability, is he not? Surely both attributes would've come in handy against Lyon at some point?

What would've been the problem with Aquilani replacing Lucas (or Mascherano) in the 70th minute? What is the point of having the player if you're not going to use him, especially when the team is decimated by injuries.

If there was never any intention of playing Aquilani then why not just leave him in Liverpool to work on getting fitter? Why drag him to France to sit on the bench?

Why must Benitez be so cautious? How is Aquilani supposed to get match fit if he's never played? Yes, he has a history of injuries but he's going to have to play sooner or later; he can't be needlessly wrapped in cotton wool all the time.

And it's not as if Rafa Benitez is saving him for the next league game, is it?! LYON was the game that needed to be won, and all of Liverpool's available assets should've been used to achieve that goal.

The game was there for the taking, and if more positive, attacking substitutions had been made earlier in the game then the outcome might have been different.

Instead, Liverpool paid the price for Benitez's caution once again.


  1. I totally agree JK. It was baffling why alberto wasnt introduced. We lacked creativity all throughout, with yossi being shunted to the left. Voronin ran his socks off but was still awful..ngog should have started. the lad's got better composure in the final third.

  2. Only Benitez knows. He is the coach for a reason and we spend time on forums for another reason. He knows better!!!

  3. totally agree, the game was crying out for some creativity. Thought he would even get 10 minutes. Benitez has ruined  the reds season by gambling and now his worst nightmare has come true with a catalogue of injuries to key players. I have to say Insua is turning into a nightmare . He goes missing and has no real pace, Could'nt believe his marking in the last four or five games

  4. Totally agree with this article why if rafa had no intention of playing him did he take him what is the point of having a 20 mil player sat on the bench when we need to win 20 mins might have made all the difference and like you said he has got to play sometime.

  5. Good question!! Not a clue, he was warming up from the 1st half!!! Anyways this game would have been ours if only Voronin had taken care of business in the 1st half. Why didn't Ryan start??? 

  6. i think he worried that he may got injured today because it was a harsh game in some times..i want people criticizing babel to shut their mouth for a while cause the guy showed again that he's got great skills..voronin should be offloaded back to ukraine..the guy is a FLOP!!!sell dossena,voronin and buy a starter in the january transfer window so we can save this season..i'm starting to realise that we'll be playing in Europa League this season and we must at last finish 4th in the Premierleague..it is not imposibble even with this sh*tty start in this season..rerember last year tottenham when they were about to finish last and finished one point away from Europa league..we can do it..LETS GO REDS..SUPPORT RAFA AND NOT THE YANKS..

  7. Thanks fotr your comments but please don't refer to the owners as 'Yanks' on this site please. (I've edited your post).  As fans we should be better than that, and that goes for all players/management: derogatory labelling is not the way to go.  Thanks :)

  8. He should have taken My Little Pony off much earlier. Aquilani would have been an excellent choice. Is he waiting until our season is completely gone before he plays him?

    I'm getting fed up with the same old same old from Rafa after every game. Chances this, chances that. Apparently "The main thing is the reaction of the players, they were trying to win". No shit

  9. Realy starting to lose faith in rafa now I can't figure his tactics out why didn't he start with babel and voronin has got to go the man is total garbage and like the article says why didn't he give Alberto a run out he needs match fitness and Lyon were there for the taking surely 10 mins would not have hurt we needed something and he just might have given us that something.

  10. I agree, I mean he's only a player.  Why not throw him in and put him in a high pressure environment? Of course he would have been able to score and get us through. Why not risk another injury? I mean, we have loads of cover and loads of other players who are not injured, so what will one more key player risking injury do? And he's not a new signing, so he's obviously able to slot straight in too.

    Oh wait, no.  I forgot, we are liverpool, we DO put players health relatively high up the list.

  11. What a defeatist view.  You can apply that kind of thinking to any match at the moment.  Every game is going to be pressurised because Liverpool need to win every game now.

    And risk another injury?!  I guess Aquilani should stay on the bench permanently then, huh?  That way, there's no chance of him getting injured

  12. Agree 100% with your article, and i just said the same on another website. $20 million on the bench, fit and raring to go, and not even a sniff. Instead we have players like Lucas, Voronin and Kyriagos on the pitch. What an embarrasement!

    when Babel came on it wasn't that he made the difference, other than the wonder goal, it was the fact that it brought Benayoun more central for that creative spark, which we could have also had with Alberto!

    Till next season as usual! Cheers

  13. If we'd drawn 0-0 I'd have agreed with you, but drawing 1-1 in the manner we did suggests rafa almost got it right. if kyrgiakos had played the percentages and conceded a corner instead of trying to hack the ball upfield we'd most likely have taken all 3 points, and i suspect you wouldn't have written this blog.

    breaking up mascherano and lucas would've been a mistake unless we were chasing the game - that bit is obvious.

  14. A draw is not good enough.  the game needed to be won.  If positive substituions had been made earlier, perhaps Liverpool would've been winning 2-0 at the time Lyon scored.

    And even if we'd won 1-0, I would still have written the same thing.  Aquilani is fit; our team is decimated by injury; he needs match practice. Play him.

  15. What's wrong with Lucas? He's been one of our most consistent players this season? Are you actually watching the game or just reading Stan Collymore and the other "Experts"?

  16. what is the point of hsving a20 mil plsyer on the bench when your to scared to plsy him incase he gets injured our season is nearly in tatters now ok we are plagued by injuries at the moment but surley in a must win game you put your strongest team out or at least give a player a run out even if it only 15 mins he may have made a difference guess we will never know atleast we still got voronin what a waste offresh air that guy is got to get rid of him asap but we cant even give him away.

  17. Bikram,
    Lucas knows to do one thing and that is pass the ball backwards. He's
    a Jamie Redknapp! Lucas has no composure in front of goal, as we have
    seen a few times. he gets pushed off the ball easily. He didn't have
    his worst game tonight, in fact he stepped it up, but he's not a
    Liverpool player. At best he's a half decent squad player.
    I hate Stan Collymore and his articles. he hasn't a clue. But there
    are others like Terry Venables, Gary Lineker, Trevor Francis and Ray
    Clemence, all who were in the studio on the coverage i had, who can't
    understand Lucas!
    Nehme Fadlallah

  18. There's nothing wrong with Lucas. I've been singing his praises all season.  It's about removing someone who is play ostensibly a defensive role and replacing him with a more offensive-minded player.  it's purely tactical; nothing to do with the player's ability.

    In the Lyon game, Lucas is the only player who can be taken off.  With more attackers on the field, Masch needs to stay on to cover; Yossi and Kuyt need to stay on for obvious reasons; once Voronin has been taken off, the only option left (if you really want to win the game) is to replace Lucas (defensive-minded) with Aquilani (Offensive minded).

    Purely tactical as I said.  The team woulkd then have looked like this:


    Carra --- Kyrg --- Agger ---- Insua

    -------------- Masch

    Kuyt ------ Aqiuilani ----- Babel

    ------------- Yossi

    ----------- Torres

    Surely this would've been worth a try?

  19. Clarence Bricklyne10:50 pm, November 04, 2009

    Funny thing is that we lost against Fullham because Benitez took Torres off to protect him because of his injury. (At least we know that 2 or 3 Fullham players have admitted that once Torres was taken off, their entire team spirit was lifted as they are rightly petrified of an even half-speed or injured Torres.) And he also tool Benayoun off, the second most viable threat on the pitch that day, ostensibly with an ey to today's match. And not to Benayoun's great pleasure. It is reasonable to presume that had those 2 not been taken off, Fulham might not have played more openly and less cautiously, in a game that we were dominating up until that point, and we possible couldn't have fell victim to those 2 red cards, and that we possible reasonably could have at least gotten a point if not won outright.

    So today, at Lyon - where all the eggs in the basket where placed - Torres, doesn't score anyway (he also didn't get further hurt luckily), Benayoun doesn't play to his usual standard (probably worried about being taken off again anyway), and best of all, the 20 million acquisition whose apparently now healthy enough to play, doesn't.

    Benitez's calculus begins to confound me. Now we are nominally only out of the Premiership race, but also (contrary to Whelan's opinion) we're also techinically out of the Champion's league (barring a miracle, or rather and more accurately, a series of miracles), with only fourth place left to challenge for so that we don't end up playing Europa league next Season with whomever comes in to replace Benitez. I don't think we even have a good enough squad (outside of Gerrard, Torres, Benayoun, Mascherano - any or all of whom may be gone by this time next year) for Europa league.

  20. JK based on what was available tonight, I agree with the team selection you chose. Benayoun has to play behind Torres. WIth some pace on the wing in Babel

  21. trying to fathom how you can say "the game needed to be won" and "he needs match practise. play him" in the same passage. strange.

    and perhaps if we'd taken one of the clear-cut chances we created we would've won 2 or 3 -1.

    i'm new to this site - were you equally critical of rafa last season?

  22. i do agree with u fellas.. i was dancing like hell and almost naked when babel scored the goal.. its trully pain in the as$ looking at defensive mode by liverpool.. 

  23. I don't give a dam what benitez lovers say, the man is not a good manager
    gerrard and torres have got him out of jail far to many times for comfort, a
    manager has to trully earn his money when the team is struggling, he has make good decisions during a game, granted he made one by bringing on babel, now the manager has to help the team defend the lead, I said at the time we have bring on an extra defender because agger looked tired and our other central defender kyrgiakos was slightly struggling thru lack of match practice towards the end,at the time I said bring on ayala on and drop agger to sweeper or ayala as sweeper, instead he takes off torres and brings on ngos, from the word go lyon defenders free of torres started crossing the halfway line for the 1st time in open play, one them played his part in their goal in whitch agger and kyrgiakos struggled and failed to clear, £22 million of tha fans money benitez spends of tha fans money to have a fit player polish the bench with his bum, or if aqualini was'nt fit what a great managerial decicsion to have him there in the first place,either way it was bad management

  24. And keep him of the training pitch, too. Best we lock him away.

  25. If a player is on the bench then it means they are fit to play, does it not?  How does a player get match-fit?  By playing.  Aquilani is fit enough to play for 20 minutes - we saw that against Arsenal in the Carling Cup.  he may not be fit enough to play a full 90 minutes but how is he going to get to that level - or get used to his team-mates - without playing?

    Yes, if we have taken our clearcut chances perhaps we would've won.  However, when it gets to the 60th/70th minute and things are going stale, you need to change something. 

    These are valid questions being asked about Liverpool's substitutions tonight.  Why is it whenever questions are asked there are always people moaning about how those analysing are being too critical?!

    Okay - you're right.

    Everything was perfect!  The performance was amazing!  rafa got it spot on and could not have done anything differently.  Rafa is amazing, he's the greatest manager that ever lived! In Rafa I trust.  Viva the rafalution!

    That better ;)

  26. gutted and pleased at the same time gutted we are just about out of the champions league pleased we are nearly out of the champions league because when we do get knocked out hopefully rafa will quit and we get a manager who can lead our team properly and get rid of the shite rafa has bought and buy decent players which this grea team deserves. eg voronin,degen and the likes andplay babel more he needs games to get his confidence up not be a bench warmer.

  27. No, everything was wrong!  The performance was terrible! all of rafa's decisions were wrong tonight.  Rafa is a joke, he's a worse manager than Souness, Evans and Houllier! Rafa has got to go - I'd much rather have Curbishley in charge. 

    That better?

    fyi - i too was getting desparate with 10 mins ago, and was hoping aquilani would get the nod, but in the back of my mind as i was also thinking;
    1. who would i take off - lucas or mascherano?
    2. but how would that impact the balance of the team?
    3. is 0-0 so bad? lyon may get something in florence. if we lose 1-0 because of the change then it would game over in the CL for sure.
    4. perhaps kuyt should come off, but he has scored some important late goals

    then babel scored: rafa appeared to make the right decision. however our true achillies heel this season reared its ugly head again - defending and the decision making of our defenders. defending is much about intelligence as anything else, and i fear we have some pretty stupid defenders.

  28. We all saw him on the reserves, he is fit to play yet why is Rafa not utilizing him?

    I agree with the view that, since Aquilani is a professional foootball player, he should make his best efforts to give 100% to the team AND stay injury-free. Not playing him because he may get injured again is an insult to Alberto's contract.

    Completely thrown off by the decision to start Voronin as well, he showed for the hundredth time today that he has nowhere near the class to play for Liverpool.

    One positive point to draw from today is that Babel can score goals in relatively important matches-Rafa should give him more chance in the coming games while players from injury recover. Like JK always says, nobody should be "untouchable," and if Kuyt or Yossi has a bad run of games then Babel should rightly get his chance to prove himself

  29. Kuyt has regressed after last season's peak. I would have replaced him with Babel much earlier but, don't we know that Kuyt is undroppable! As for Aquilani coming on, I'm not so sure. I'd only have swapped Mascherano for him in this game, Lucas was doing a fine (if unremarkable) job tonight - so stays on for me. But who would have provided the movement to keep Lyon guessing, and thus providing space for Aquilani to operate.

    I think that even when Alberto Aquilani does become fit, his passing abilities will only be noticed if he has someone to pass to. Our movement was not great tonight, and Dirk Kuyt was our main culprit, and had there been a more suitabel sub, I would have actioned it in a heartbeat. He'll be there on the wing to take the pass, but there is nothing too snappy about him to keep the opposition worried.

    I do feel that we were let down by a latter lack of defensive concentration, more than a lack of forward guile. The injury list is very oppressive, and can't be ignored by any real analysis - as our 'options' from the bench were ghostly<span>: Cavalieri, Aquilani, Babel, Ngog, Spearing, Darby, Ayala. </span>

    I would definitely would have played Darby, instead of Kyrgiakos (most knowledgable fans in t'world, it's not that hard to spell), leaving Carra and Agger central; aces the their places, and all that.

    Insua did well in this game - despite his (growingly) apparent lack of pace - he got some crucial blocks in. How more forgiving we are now of Riise and that own-goal. I would give it a moment's thought to bring him back!

    If I was to cut to the chase; give Rafa this season at least, to right the faultering course, and maybe next season to kick on...depending. He's in real hole now, and it's not the fairest of circumstances to judge. I'm quite critical of Benitez most times, but this is his first major crisis, and he should be stood by, as he's holding his head up high in this storm.

  30. Hi Jamie

    It's been more and more disappointing and I'm not able to figure out what in Rafa's strategies. I agree totally that we need to be attacked minded. When I saw Voronin on the line up and Benayoun was not playing Gerrard's role with the Fulham game, we were already not threatening and not easy to win. It happened again in the game with Lyon. I don't get it when Rafa can't see what we're seeing. The other thing, when we take  our threatening strikers out, the opponents will have a field of a time - allow the opponents defense to push on attack. He did the sam thing again for Lyon. .....sigh....

  31. Rafa is getting what he deserves, he has been far too lucky with his "Tactics".Yossi on the left Jaimie on the right, persisting with Lucas and Mascherano(who seems thoroughly disinterested),etc.

    And, his mistreatment of players is atrocious to say the least. I am sure Babel won't even be on the bench after scoring what was potentially the winner... You pay some 11mp for a player with potential, never give him a chance then start some Voronin instead of him, who doesn't have CL experience (which Babel has), I suppose he can be disgruntled. If he were in Arsenal he'd have been whatever he could have been, not a perpetual sub... And, why not take Martin Kelly (who had a good game on his debut) instead of Ayala(Agger and Carra could have been Centre backs)? He played in the RB position before, well, he never played after that...

    Don't even get me started about Xabi Alonso, Robbie Keane (Who'd have been so valuable in games like these), Crouch, Finnan, etc...

    As I said earlier, Rafa is getting what he deserves, Hope he gets sacked, Dalglish can manage till the end of the season then we can find some good positive manager... I just wish all this weren't at the cost of Liverpool...

    There! done with my rant.

  32. I understand Rafa's preference is to observe and select players based on performance during training sessions. That philosophy has worked before most dramatically with the entry of Smicer in the 2005 CL final. Smicer wasn't playing much prior to that game but must have surely performed so well in training he was chosen to replace Kewell when the latter went off injured. The same philosophy perhaps have cost Liverpool dearly this season. That could be the explanation why Rafa has continue to play Voronin and Ngog. Aquillani should have come in as Torres' replacement to help the team keep the ball and spread it to wide areas. Ngog has never been able to keep possession of the ball for more than 5 seconds in any games he's played. Prehaps, had Rafa been a bit more bold, he would have brought both Ngog and Aquillani in, instruct the former to roam around empty wide areas and the latter assigned to look for those spaces when he gets the ball.   

  33. Rafa made the right sub. 

    Babel came on and did the business.  It was chronic defending in the final minute that cost us, and that of course can be levelled at the Yanks.

    Rafa had £2.5 mill to spend on a centre back...he bought the Greek (we all knew he was no good, but what other options were there?) and low and behold, he falls over and costs us our European run. 

    So once again our lack of spending power costs us again....

    You can bring in any manager you want.  No one can do better with these retrictions than Rafa has. 

    We need a change alright, but its at boardroom level that it is needed!!!

  34. The chap above me is bang on the money. Had Rafa been provided with the cash to bring in say Turner or Shawcross, rather than some over the hill Greek journey man its likely we'd be in a lot better position than we are now.

    Liverpool are in an institutional crisis and its futile persistently picking holes in Rafa's decisions when the real problems are at boardroom level. Sure some blame can be levied at Benitez but ultimately he is repeatedly forced to go for his second or third choice targets.

    We are destined for a fate similar to Leeds if H+G don't sell up soon. Moores and Parry should hang their heads in shame....

  35. I thought Rafa got everything right last night. But I think there are two players on the field that don't belong there. Voronin and Kyrgiakos, Voronin wasted the best chance we had of the game and Kyrgiakos was horrible at defending, I hope we get Upson in January and get rid of this guy.

    I hope we don't become like every other club and sack Benitez just because of this bad spell of games, Liverpool can bounce back and they will.

  36. Why do all you think Aquilani is amazing, we have seen in play for 20mins and that is enough to demand that he starts in crucial games.

    its not the selection, formation or tactics. its just that Liverpool are not playing well enough and have not been for some time,

  37. seriously??? insua was really good last night imo. the goal was conceded through uncharacteristic play by agger and kyroslipertipperoff going on his arse too quickly rather than muscling the player off the ball. For sure it is disappointing what happened last night but i find it more despairing to read silly knee-jerk posts like this which show little or no knowledge of football imo. LFC are having a terrible start to the season but things will change if we keep cool and keep working hard.

  38. so let me get this straight. you would have played aquilina who has played one game v. Arsenal reserves, has just got over flu, and has had no chance to gel with the other players? You know what, i think you should apply for Rafa's job when he eventually retires in 2020 - because you - quite simply - are a genius like JK.

  39. Lack of Spending power please,

    Since 04 Liverpool have spent somthing like 250million, Even Spurs have spent 260million and look what that has got them,

    if you go back to 1992 Liverpool have spent somthing like 415million, so the new owners have given Rafa more money than anyother manager,

    Its not about money

  40. Jesus - stop being so blinkered!  If he was so unfit to play then WHY WAS HE ON THE BENCH?!  Why was he warming up?!

    You can apply the same thinking to Torres - he IS injured.  He is carrying a gronin injury that may require surgery.  he is in a WORSE state than Aquilani but he still played 80 minutes.

    Aquilani is FIT.  He could've played for 20 minutes easily.

    Stop making lame justifications!

  41. Exactly, Guess. This lack of spending power nonsense is a complete and utter myth and so predictable.  Benitez has spent more than 260m since the 2004-05 season.  I've been researching transfer fees recently and that figure is accurate.

    Some people seriously need to get their heads out of the sand.

  42. Jamie, have you actually seen Lucas play for his country. His natural instinct is to score - like he almost did last night. Lucas is really maturing and i think last night had sensational game with the much maligned mascherano. The reason Babel didn't come on until 10 mins to go is because Benitez knew that he would be incapable of keeping the tight shape required between the midfield and attackers that Voronin could - that diamond was all important to our dominance last night. The big mistake last night was not Voronin but it was taking Torres off - it gave the French the opportunity to chuck their CBs up with abandon safe in the knowledge they could deal with Ngog who, while developing nicely, doesn't have the muscle or touch of Torres. I find your posts lack any real understanding of the game or of Liverpool Jamie - I really do. You are most definitely an Everton fan in disguise...

  43. Match practice????How did you get this job Jamie - seriously? How?

  44. This is a fine and balanced post. You should apply for JK's job.

  45. You are completely missing the point.  As I said in the post above yours, I advocated removing Lucas for tactical reasons only. It has nothing to do with his ability.  Furthermore, how he plays for Brazil is not relevant here; did he play for Brazil last night or Liverpool? As I've argued in the past, Lucas' attacking instincts are curbed by Benitez, who forces him to play a more defensive role.

    We did not fail to win the game because Torres went off - Benitez did not react to Lyon's capitulation early enough.  Lyon were on the rack, and if Benitez had been more adventurous and gone for a sustained attack from the 60th minute onwards, I have no dount Liverpool would've won.

    Aquilani, Babel and Ngo should've come on much earlier and Liverpool should've gone for broke.  After all, this was the most important game of the season so far.

    instead, Benitez just couldn't bring himself to lose one of his defensive midfielders, and Liverpool suffered as a result.

  46. Stick to debating the issues. One more pointless post like this clogging up the discussion and I will ban you from commenting.

  47. While I totally agree with your assessment of the ownership problem at Liverpool i do not believe that we will go the way of Leeds as:

    1) we are a much bigger brand internationally and sponsors are interested in us

    2) the Yanks have cash in reserve and will bail us out if forced to

    One thing i would say is that if we fail to get through to the next round it could force the issue at board level. To my mind Gillette has been the weakest link for some time. I think it could accelerate his disposal of his share in LFC to the Saudis. That said it is small consolation and we desperately need more cash for acquisitions in the backs and the forwards. I'd also go for one more quality attacking midfielder.

  48. Agree about the Greek - actually - bizarely for me - less certain on your assessment of Voronin. Apart from the horrendous miss and the terrible touch, he was a key figure in keeping our shape up front with that nice diamond between him, Torres and Benayoun. It was that compactness that led to all those chances - that and serving us so well. Excellent interlinking play between Lucas/Macherano and the forwards.

  49. I think it's down to opinions. Rafa's opinions counts more than ours. I think he'd have preferred to give him a run out if we were comfortably leading but obviously that didn't happen. I don't think taking Lucas (MOM in my opinion) or Mascherano off was the right choice either, they were running the show. So that leaves changing players up front. Rafa chose to bring on Babel and N'Gog instead of Aquilani and his decisions was working till the 90th minute. Just unfortunate.

    So IMO Rafa tactically chose not to use him. If anything happened to Lucas or Masch, then he would have played.

  50. Good article Jamie. The problems for me are innumerable...but I'll number them anyway!!!
    1. Voronin should not have played as he's clearly lacking confidence and his touch is simply dreadful.
    2. Kuyt should have been played up top with Torres, Benayoun on the left and Babel on the right as Carragher and Kuyt on the right gave us nothing going forward.
    3. Kyrgiakos simply isn't good enough. Cardinal sin in letting the ball bounce 5 mins before the goal, and then got muscled off the ball for the goal.
    4. Why, why take Torres off for 5 minutes? Will that really keep him from being injured? Rubbish, it just invited Lyon onto us.
    5. With Aquilani on the bench, why not bring him on for 20 minutes to change the game? The hole behind Torres (where Kuyt ended up) would have been perfect for him.
    6. Babel is not and will never be a left winger!
    7. Kuyt for me should be dropped, his touch last night was aweful, and for me summed up everything I've said about him. His second touch is always a tackle and no matter what anyone says re him working hard doesn't make up for the fact that he offers next to nothing going forward.
    8. Benitez is so cautious it's laughable...taking off a striker for a 'winger' when we needed to win the game. If Ferguson was manager Kyrgiakos and Lucas would have come off and Babel and Ngog/Aquilani would have been thrown on.

    I just personally can't see the benefit of trying to be solid at the back in the 70th minute when we needed to win. Just go for it - I'd rather have lost 3-0 and us at least shown some adventure in the latter stages than what we got which was typical caution and reservation.

  51. Babel did 1, yes 1 good thing. The rest of his performance was typical Babel. Get a grip mate, Benitez was cautious in the extreme.

    And lack of spending power really does my head in. If he's only got £2.5m for a player, why spend it? Why not promote Ayala? Or is he saying that Ayala (a player he has brought in) isn't even good enough to be the 4th choice centre-half? Don't moan about spending power, he's spent a fortune and a hell of a lot has been wasted.

  52. How is Sir Alex Ferguson not working under those conditions? Last time I heard they were over £700m in debt (double the amount we are) and has just sold a player for £80m and spent almost none of what he re-couped. He also couldn't afford the cash for Tevez.

  53. Voronin ran around looking like a circus clown, couldnt pass, could tackle, couldnt shoot (when 1 on 1 with the keeper)!

    he even bottled taking a corner cos he was total *****! he was the worst player ever to wear red of LFC!

    how rafa could not use Aquilani last night was an utter JOKE!

  54. support the owners not Rafa more like.  Its not the owners picking the team or buying the players

  55. At one point during the game, at about 60-65 minutes I did think about whether Rafa would bring on Aquilani. I think that Rafa made the right decision not to bring him on. Lyon upped their game a bit in the second half and we needed to keep it solid which is why I think we stuck with the two defensive midfielders. Had we risked one of them, either Masch or Lucas, the scoreline could have been worse. Both Lucas and Masch had a very good game breaking up their attacks, helping out the defence. You say that Aquilani could have changed the game. He could have, we could have lost! When you play away from home in Europe the most important thing is to keep it solid. Sticking with Lucas and Masch gave us that solidity.

    Rafa changed it by bringing on Babel and it worked. He got us the goal that we needed. The problem was that we messed up in defence again which is the story of our season.

    I can understand your view about having a £20m player on the bench and not using him, but in my view our tactics and performance were spot on until the 91 minute, which is why the draw feels like a loss. We deserved to win that game. We had the better chances, Babel scored a stunning goal but a lapse in defence (again) is what caused the problem.

    You talk about being more ambitious, more attacking, but the downside to that is that we become more vulnerable at the back. The most important thing yesterday was not to lose. We had to win, but also we had to make sure we didn't lose. A draw still keeps us in although we now have to rely on others. A loss would have meant we were out last night.

    Had Rafa bought on Aquilani, who has more attacking prowess but less so in defense and we lost the game, we'd all be saying that Rafa wasn't cautious enough. Either way he can't win.

    I've noticed a theme in your articles when we lose. Why didn't we play Benayoun and Aurelio in this game; why'd didn't Riera play in this game; why wasn't Babel played from the beginning; why didn't we bring on Aquilani. There is absolutely no way of telling whether playing these players would have changed the result; its completely subjective thinking. Would Aquilani coming on last night have changed the fact that we let in that goal in the 91st minute; probably not as he would have been higher up the pitch and it was a defensive error.

  56. FYI - Martin Kelly is injured. It's amazing how a lapse in knowledge can lead to such distorted viewpoints. It's not your fault you didn't know this, but the foundation of any football debate is almost always due to differing levels of football understanding. The reason why fans fail to understand Rafa's decisions is simply because we're not experts like he is. Us fans base our viewpoints on information released through the media whereas Rafa and his backroom staff make their decisions based on first hand information. For all we know, Aquilani may have been approached by Rafa before the game and questioned on his availability. Aquilani may have only agreed to a place on the bench as backup to Masch or Lucas, i.e. in case they sustained an injury.

  57. You can apply this logic to any player who has never made an appearance when a sub. I doubt that Rafa had any pre-defined substitutions going into this match, he simply picked the change he thought best as the game unfolded - Babel for Voronin, which very nearly paid off. If Lyon hadn't scored a last gasp equaliser many of the people would have been lauding Rafa's super-sub change.

  58. You can apply this logic to any player who has never made an appearance when a sub. I doubt that Rafa had any pre-defined substitutions going into this match, he simply picked the change he thought best as the game unfolded - Babel for Voronin, which very nearly paid off. If Lyon hadn't scored a last gasp equaliser many would now be lauding Rafa's change.

    Unfortunetly our weekness in defence (Kyriagos) was expossed, if he hadn't have lunged in and rather ran with the players who had the ball I very much doubt they would have scored. Aquilani would have had absolutely no impact on this event.

  59. My own personal belief is that if you need a win, go and get it. If you are drawing 0-0 then you may as well lose 4-0. Go and get the win, which we needed, and stop being so cautious. So what if we had conceded after throwing the kitchen sink at them, at least we could stand up and say 'you know what we tried everything and we weren't quite able to do it'.

    I agree, fist 15 minutes you've got to be solid and silence the crowd, but away from home, needing a win to have any (realistic) chance to go through, just go for broke. Then we can be proud of the performance and the bold decision making. What are we left with now? No real chance of qualification and further questions regarding Benitez's team selections, tactics and use of substitutes.

  60. FYI - Martin Kelly is injured - How do you know that? Surely not by information released through the media ? You could be right and I could be wrong, still that's only one player, what about the others? Just because we are not privy to all the inner dealings of the master "tactician" that is Rafa, doesn't mean we as fans don't have the right to question him!

    Before you start taking cheapshots about differing levels of football understanding I suggest you try to stick to the debate and tell me how Rafa is beyond reproach and can get away with all the stuff he did/does as mentioned on this site so many times...

  61. 1. Couldn't agree more
    2. Benayoun is no more a left wide man than Babel so not convinced this will work.
    3. Agree
    4. This had absolutely no influence on the outcome - bringing on a striker for a striker did not 'invite Lyon on to us'
    5. Instead, Rafa brought on Babel for 20 mins, who did change the game. So he got it right. Who's to say Aquilani would have done the same.
    6. True.
    7. Kuyt scores goals (as many as Rooney last season) and plenty of assists (3rd overall last year, i think.)
    8. 'Taking off a striker for a winger' - As you say Babel is not a winger and was not deployed as such, also Voronin is not a striker (I'm not sure what he is) he was deployed as a central forward (i.e. Gerrards role.)

  62. In the case of Martin Kelly, Rafa has said so a number of times via video interviews and press conferences. So we need to consider this as reliable. In the case of not playing Aquilani, we, as fans, honestly have no idea why Rafa didn't bring Aquilani on, so how can someone like JK validate an argument when we they don't know all the information? I suppose I am aiming the Aquilani point at JK and the others, and the points you make in your original post I do actually agree with. We all make mistakes, and Rafa will admit himself that he's made a few, I'm sure. But on the case of Aquilani, we can't go about flinging accusations when we don't have access to the evidence. The only reason I answered your post in the first place was because I felt a need to correct your point on Martin Kelly. The remainder of my point is concerning Aquilani, which as it happens, is what this thread is all about.

  63. I totally disagree. A vital game that we needed to win, and he was so frustratingly but predictably cautious! I think he does plan his substitutions before the kick-off, absolutely he does, and I really feel he cannot react to what is in front of him unless he is forced by injury.

    I do agree however that Kyrgiakos isn't good enough, why not promote Ayala rather than buying a mediocre player? Is he saying Ayala isn't even good enough to be 4th choice?

  64. Benayoun is much more competent a left winger than Babel ever will be. Not ideal, granted, but surely a better option?
    Are you then saying that taking off arguably the worlds best striker and replacing him with a kid doesn't allow the opposition to play with less hesitance and push more players forward?
    Sorry but I don't care what Kuyt does he is absolutely no more than a squad player. His touch is just god-aweful and he misplaces so many passes it's absurd.
    My point re Aquilani was more around offering more going forward than Kuyt was doing, as for me when he went into the CF role he seemed to go missing.
    Okay Voronin isn't a striker, he's a CF but Babel isn't a CF, he's a right winger for me, and yes he was deployed as a winger last night, unless wide on the left replacing where Benayoun was isn't the wing anymore?!?!

  65. <p><span><span>I hope that we fail to qualify for the knockout out stages because maybe Liverpool fans can stop being greedy and appreciate what have got and just support the team. I thought that the team put in a bloody good effect last night. Everything was in place for another great Liverpool away win but we are not getting the rub of the green at the moment but that will change<span>. I didn’t see a need for Aquilani to come on the pitch as Lucas and Mascherano had fantastic games. Aquilani has been out for a long time so the home game against Birmingham city on Monday will be perfect time to for him to make his debut. Like JC said last night, If we get knocked out we will just have to bounce back because that what Liverpool FC do the best… come back from adversity. <span> </span>From the last two proper games that I’ve seen (man u, Lyon) I’m sure that we can still pick up a trophy and top four finish at the end of the season.</span></span></span></p>

  66. Thats a ridiculous statement. We needed to win, but we also needed to make sure we didn't lose which is why there was a reason to be a little cautious. Even with a draw we can still get through if Lyon beat Fiorentina and we win our last two games. Its a slim chance to get through but its still a chance. If we had lost yesterday then we'd be out.

    How can you query the substituion? he came on and scored. What else do you want him to do? The other substitution doesn't really matter as he only had 5 minutes.

    How can you query the tactics. For 91 minutes it worked. We had better chances than Lyon, their keeper was worked harder than ours, we scored and we were 2 minutes away from getting a very good victory. A momentary lapse in concentration is what allowd them to score. Rafa can set up the tactics, the substitions etc but he cannot do anything about a lapse in concentration or a mistake.

    I also have to stand up for Kryiagos. It wasn't just his fault that we conceded yesterday. Agger got under the ball and was completely out of position. That meant Kryiagos had to try to make a last ditch tackle. I would say it was Agger's fault more than Kryiagos'. Plus the choices in defence were forced on us, we had no-one else. Would you rather play Ayala, a good but inexperienced defender or Kyriagos, who has 50 appearances in Europe. I know who I'd choose.

    Yet again, some fans are picking on the easy targets. Its easy to blame Kryiagos and Lucas. I've heard people blame Lucas today when I thought he had a very good game yesterday.

  67. I feel people are forgetting that this was an AWAY game to Lyon. Even though we needed the 3 pts it was still an AWAY game to a vey good Lyon team. His "cautious" approach got us 2 good chances in the first half and had us up 1-0 in the 90th minute. What argument could u possibly have with that. Torres and Voronin take there chances as they should have in the first half and its a very different game isn't it. The man had a plan and it worked for 90mins. Dodgy defending, our achilles heel all season is what got us in the end.

    As for Aquilani, i too thought he would play at some point. He didn't. What the big deal is I don't know but consider this: He's just coming back from injury and the manager has to decide if to bring him on or not. The team is doing OK up to midway in the second half. Babel comes on and scores. Do I bring on Aquilani at that point where I'm all about defending? I don't think so. And that is further reinforced by the full training room we currently have with injured players. That would give pause to any manager.

  68. Thanks fotr your comments but please don't refer to the owners as 'Yanks' on this site please. (I've edited your post).  As fans we should be better than that, and that goes for all players/management: derogatory labelling is not the way to go.  Thank you

    Damn, does that mena I can't refer to Raffa as a fat spanish waiter :(

  69. aquilani had swine flu and had only recently recovered - hence why he didn't play against fulham. i reckon he'll start against fulham. it's hard to believe that this website is run by liverpool fans.

  70. Jaimie, would you have even brought this up if Lyon hadn't equalised?

    Probably not, and if Aquilani had played and then suffered an injury you would have written a different article slating Rafa for playing him unnecessarily.

    With bloggers such as yourself he will never be able to win.

  71. Grow up for god's sake! 

    If you can't hack views that challenge the status quo then you seriously need to broaden your mind and stop acting like the world is ending every time the club or rafa is criticised.

  72. Grow up for god's sake! 

    If you can't hack views that challenge the status quo then you seriously need to broaden your mind and stop acting like the world is ending every time the club or rafa is criticised.

  73. I'm sorry, there is no way that Benitez pre-plans his subs before a game, that is a ridiculous comment. No matter you'r personal opinion of the manager you have no evidence to back that up. Basically, if that were true we wouldn't be so suprised by a large majority of his changes.

  74. I can hack Rafa and the Club being criticised no problem if it's warranted.  But last night we played well and were unlucky IMO, if Voronin had taken his chance it could have been a different story. I have openly criticised Rafa over Voronin as he's a poor player and I'd have preferred Nemeth getting a place in the squad ahead of Voronin.

    What I can't understand is criticising Rafa for not bringing Aquilani into the match when there was no requirement to, Lucas and Mascherano were arguably the best players on the pitch for much of last night so why unbalance the midfield by bringing in Aquilani when they were both playing well together?

    For the sake of argument it's possible that in taking Lucas or Mascherano off it may have weakened the midfield which was our strongest area last night.

    If Aquilani had played and been injured with us still drawing the match it would have been a far worse night for us, sometimes it's better to be cautious than bull-headed, especially in football. In saying that he has taken gambles before, he gambled on Torres' fitness and played him against United this season, one which paid dividends. You can't get in right all the time.

  75. Exactly a fortnight ago Rafa was quoted as saying that <span>Aquilani is two to three weeks away from premier league start (I assume premier league is more physical than say the italian league and all that ), </span>
    that statement then at least made some sense however that fact certainly ceases to exist in  CL where a continental player like  <span>Aquilani  should be better off .</span>
    <span> I dont want to get started on Rafa's pragmatism but however I try to look at it I  fail to reach anywhere else</span>

  76. Aquilani would have been useful for the final 20 mins as we, like most teams do when becoming desperate for a goal, started lumping the ball up field (though we did that far too often from the start) and he would have brought some composure and qualty to proceedings and may have been able to pick some holes in their defence. You'd have thought rafa would have played the percentages and put kuyt up with torres with babel on the right rather than voronin who clearly has no confidence playing for us (rightly so). And don't say voronin was crucial to keeping our shape, we were only 10 mins into the match when mash gave him a bollocking for not tracking back. I'm sick of hearing what he might show in training, we have his whole reds career to show that this has never translated into performances in the first team.

  77. Like many have stated before, ppl have no issue with criticism that makes sense but on this site the majority of the criticism stand on shaky ground at best and hides behind the designation of opinion.

    Fact of the matter is that against Lyon, the manager played the quinticential away game (with a truly depleted squad)strategy and was succeeding with it till the 91st minute where our weakness all season long (defence) made us pay. If u think that having Aquilani on the pitch would have helped is retain possession then that is a valid argument but the view of what the manager did also is just as valid an approach for the AWAY game vs Lyon.

  78. That's one more good thing than Kuyt.  Typical Kuyt.  Yet Kuyt will inevitably be right back in the starting line-up come Monday.  As usual.

    It's funny how some players have to prove themselves in EVERY single game that they play (i.e Babel and Rieira) and any mistake that they make is highlighted and exaggerated, while others are automatically considered Man of the Match contenders, regardless. As Jamie has pointed out before, Benitez's favoritism needs to stop, but unfortunately it seems that most Liverpool fans blindly adopt any Rafa stance.

    Did anybody even fault Kuyt at all for Fulham's goal?? If that was Babel, there'd be a hundred blog entries bemoaning his uselessness.  But as it was Kuyt, obviously it must have been the right-backs fault. 

    Against Lyon, a clearly frustrated and emotional Babel scores a great goal, wastes one good opportunity and takes a comical free kick (which Ronaldo did regularly for Man U but that's another story).  If that had been Kuyt's performance (or Gerrard, Torres or Benayoun to be fair, who do also miss good chances and have some poor performances) all the talk would have been about what a big game player he is and how he ALWAYS strikes at the right moment, with the rest of it forgotten.

    On an aside, it's amusing to me how everybody praises Kuyt's defensive abilities, yet every time that we come up against a good attacking left back, they're still able to get to the byline countless and pose the same threat that they'd pose against anybody else

  79. It's the fans that were acting like shameless paupers, begging for handouts that should hang their heads in shame.  Aside from money for a new stadium (which hasn't materialised and seems further away then ever now) I honestly believed that Liverpool were in a good financial state and did not need to send the family silver to remain competitive.  The money just needed to be better spent.  Instead we've moved to the state of being dependent on outsiders now

  80. When the great Rafa can make mistakes, so can I. I admit my ignorance about Kelly's injury, but there was no need for such invective from your side.

    I never mentioned Aquilani in my OP, but re him, I don't know if he is going to change our fortunes much if the rest of the team is not up to the mark. I brought up the other players and tactics to point out what I thought was poor management from by Rafa which is also pertinent to Aquilani according to Jaimie.

    Even if my level of football understanding differs from yours' or is any lesser, it still doesn't bar me from having an opinion, does it? I still feel Rafa ought to go, we need a manager who is positive like Wenger, Guardiola, Rijkaard, etc. To me results are less important than the fashion in which we get them.

  81. I believe the reason that Aquilani was named on the bench was due to the injury crisis in the squad. I mean, we had to name 7 subs so and apart from naming an untried youngster who would never have been brought on, Aquilani could at least have made a contribution for 10-15 mins in an emergency (such as an injury to Lucas or Masch).

    The likelyhood is that he could have been brought on with about 15 mins to go (like at Arsenal) but at that time in the game, Lucas and Masch were very influential and we were donimating enough to keep them both on (culminating in the goal by Babel).

    Obviously, if Aquilani was fully fit and match fit then he would start but I think the reason for his presence on the bench lay more to our injury crisis (not being able to name any other alternative subs) than by how much he could have an influence of the bench.

  82. First off very disappointed with the result, even playing like a bunch of retards at times, we were still the better team and the match was very winnable. I cant understand how voronin was rewarded with a start after his limp display at craven cottage last weekend, the man is not a footballer in my opinion. Our lack of cunning in the middle of the park was evident throughout the match as when our centre halves were in possesion they were passing to and fro between each other, there was no movement in front of the back four and too often again we resorted to long balls over the top, most of which either ran out of play or ended up in the arms of their keeper. This game was crying out for aquilani and i, like the writer of this article can not understand how he was left on the bench. Maybe he is not match fit but he has been in full training for 3 or 4 weeks now, so he must be getting close to some level of fittness, besides we are playing a 70% fit fernando torres.

  83. Benetiz has had the time and money given to him that should have insured a better outcome for liverpool fc. yes, expectations are high, very high. howevermuch a tacticle genius and footballing guru to some, he has failed, and he has consistently failed. he like the players, are contracted to preform a task for liverpool fc. he has not and can no longer pretend he needs time?, or money !. time liverpool fc limited the damage now, bite the bullet and REBUILD FOR  09 / 10.

  84. Becasuse we struggled to put together a full champions league size bench! Jeeze. You just don't get it do you!

  85. Then why refer to every argument from Rafa as a 'Rant' then Jaimie? We should be beyond that shouldn't we?

  86. Why did you delete my comments and also the other fans comments?? :-D
    Do you only accept the comments that backup your view and not the opposite ones? You said that you respect Shankly's philosophy but you cannot admit you're doing the opposite way.

    There's still the other scottish manager in the league perhaps you are better supporting him and not Shankly or Dalglih, OR You ARE? :)