Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
For those of you who might not know, the man yelling directly above this text is Rafael Benitez, Liverpool's currently beleaguered manager. Why is Rafa's job in trouble? Well, for starters, English clubs have decided recently to begin treating their managers like contestants on Survivor. With Newcastle, Tottenham, Fulham, and others all giving their managers the boot this year, it appears as though the grace period for growth or improvement is practically nonexistent. Like the managers of the aforementioned three clubs, Benitez is about to fall victim in part because of unreasonably high expectations. Unlike them, though, he will also be sacked as a result of his own tactical genius.
It's true that this season in particular has seen Benitez spend vast amounts of money and still fail to keep pace with the Big Three of Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United. Part of the reason for this, some claim, is his unwillingness to deviate from his notorious rotation policy. According to detractors, this policy prevents his players from reaching their best form because they don't have consistent opportunities to reach it, and that he outsmarts himself by sometimes benching his better players when he thinks other might match up better against a side. Sort of like soccer's Tony LaRussa, but better, and a whole lot cooler.
This might not be the best policy, but the fact of the matter is Liverpool are not underperforming this season, they're playing exactly how one should have expected. What was unexpected was that in the last few years Liverpool would go to two Champions League finals (winning one) and win the 05-06 FA Cup, knocking off Man U and Chelsea along the way. The reason they've managed to do this is because of Benitez's tactical ability to exploit matchups, because essentially, they've been a two man team (then: Gerrard and Carragher, now: Gerrard and Torres) for the entirety of his tenure. This isn't his fault, either; Benitez has never had the opportunity to bring in talent he can develop due to the incredible pressure for immediate success. Instead, he's stuck grabbing mediocre established players and praying they'll play to their full potential. [Note: And his big money signing, Torres, has been sensational.] Because of the unrealistic expectations created by the early success of his tactics, he would have been in a more secure position now had he never won the aforementioned competitions.
At any rate, people are still speculating about whether or not he'll be fired this season. I, for one, would bet the house on it. The whole Klinsmann thing sounds a lot like the Jol/Ramos fiasco without the overt lying. At any rate, Real Madrid could get a fine manager out of this.