quoted from forumer named Fowi..nice view of him..
“First of all, I?ve been meaning to put my opinions into words since new years, but I haven?t had the time to do so, mainly because of the exams. I have been feeling the pain of this hard season as much as any other Liverpool supporter, I have also been posting on regular basis on the MB, engaging in some great discussions along the way. I have exchanged views and opinions with most of you and no matter what people say, our MB is still a great place to come to. I will try here and analyse our transfer policy, the manager, players and our future. It could be a bit longish but I hope you enjoy the reading, and reply.
Before I start, I?d like to tell you just a bit about myself and my so called ?football knowledge?. I?m 23 years old and live in Denmark. A few of you know me personally, but most of you don?t (although I?d gladly buy each of you a beer, or any other drink for that matter, anytime). I watch a lot of football. And I mean A LOT. Roughly about 12-15 games a week, even more when Champions League and UEFA is in play. I watch Premier League, La Liga, Seria A, Dutch League, Danish League and from time to time German and French. Its partly because I enjoy football and partly because I?m a football coach. I have coached for almost 5 years now on regular basis, starting with youth football and most recently I have coached a team of players in the age group 14-16. I recently also got my UEFA coaching licence (thanks to those who sent the words of congratulations 2 weeks ago). Now I?m not trying to build myself up here or anything, I just want people who read this to know that I?m not an idiot, nor am I basing my opinions on CM, although I do enjoy the game from time to time.
To make this piece a bit easier to read I?m going to divide it into a few topics, so here it goes:
Like majority of the fans I was quite pleased when Houllier left. It was time for him to leave, and though I think the club would have been much better off had he left a year or maybe even two earlier. I really think that we could have challenged for the title had Houllier left the season after he finished 2 nd. All the ingredients were already there at the time. We had a settled defence, two very solid keepers, Gerrard and Hamann at their best and Owen. It was our best chance to push on and certainly that was the time when we needed a new manager to give us that last push. But even though dear old G鲡rd lost it in the end (mostly cutting corners every week) I give the guy a lot of credit and I regard him as a true red and a manager who gave us many happy moments. I think he has done a decent job at a very difficult club. Inter and Barcelona aside, Liverpool is probably the most difficult club to manage. Very high expectations and very little chance of actually winning anything. Houllier after all won 3 major trophies and brought us close to challenging for the title and I thank him with all my heart for it.
Nevertheless it was time for a change and in came Rafa Benitez. I must say I was in favour of him coming from the moment Houllier left. He always seemed inspired whenever I watched Valencia and next to both O?Neill and Curbishley he was clearly the best choice. Mourinho perhaps? Maybe, who knows. He?s a great manager but would he have been a success at Anfield? Probably, but I still think Benitez was more right for Liverpool at the time. The most important thing was that he really wanted to come to Anfield. After all he left the Spanish champions to come to a club which realistically wouldn?t challenge for major honours this season, who cant give him a huge transfer budget and a club which demands the ultimate success. To me, that is dedication, determination and a will to be at this club.
Second thing, the facts speak for themselves. 3 years at Valencia: 2 Spanish titles and an UEFA Cup trophy. You put that to anybody and they?ll say ?this guy is good?. And he is. No doubt about it.
The man is first and foremost a disciplinarian. I remember a funny story when he took over Valencia. Hector Cuper, who was one of the toughest managers in Europe regarding training regimes, had left and the players were really pleased to finally escape such slaughtering in training, but 2 weeks with Benitez had them all in the papers saying how Benitez was even worse. Especially a story popped up saying how Benitez made them run in training wearing breathing masks used when diving. Anybody who has tried this will tell you it?s quite impossible. Its like running in water. Fair play to him, Valencia were the fittest side in Spain, maybe even Europe. That enabled him to put his ideas through to the players. He moulded them into a machine which didnt concede goals but scored plenty and he won the league with ease in his first season. Valencia played a 4-5-1 system with Aimar just behind the main striker. They had Baraja, Albelda, Vicente and Rufete in midfield which was probably the fittest and most hardworking midfield in Europe at the time. Along with having the best keeper in the league (along with a very sold reserve keeper in Balop) and a settled defence pairing of Ayala, Pellegrino and later on Marchena, along with very good full-backs in Curro Torres (looks completely lost now that Rafa has left the club) and Carboni, he had a complete team. He had also discovered Vicente in his first season and started playing him more and more. He gave Albelda and Baraja more playing time after Farinos and Mendieta had left and made them into the best midfield pairing in the league. So even though he inherited a great side he still had work to do. Last year he won the league again, along with the UEFA Cup and became the biggest coaching hero in the history of the club.
So all in all he has done a terrific job at Valencia. Or has he? Well, indeed he has but there are a few negative points about his 3 year spell at Valencia. The first is, in his 2nd season he somehow managed to finish 5th in the league with the same players as the year before. That certainly was not good enough and had that happened at Milan, Juventus or Inter he would have been fired then and there. Valencia board were not that deadly and they got the rewards next year with 2 trophies but that disappointment of finishing 5th hasn?t been forgotten, and people in Valencia still talk about it. And those who watched Valencia last year would agree that they weren?t setting the league alight. In terms of points won and goals scored maybe, but in terms of football displayed on the pitch, not really. Real Madrid were plain funny all year long. People say they fell away at the end of the season but they had been embarrassingly poor all year long relying on penalties and late victories against the poorest teams in the league. Barcelona were also very late in their awakening so it made it somewhat easier for Valencia to win the title as they were the only able side in the league, even though the referees were against them.
The 2nd disappointment was that he didnt get on with the players as much as it seemed (don?t let Aimar?s plea to come to Anfield fool you). Quite a few of them were happy to see him leave the club even though he has been very successful and had made some of them the players that they are today (Vicente, Curo Torres, Baraja, Albelda, Mista and to an extent Aimar). He also got in trouble with the board which again shows that he perhaps is not the easiest man to deal with, although the president isn?t a saint either.
Now regarding his work at Anfield, Rafa clearly needs time to make this his own team. The first season was always going to be difficult and I doubt that Liverpool will challenge for the title next season either but Benitez is the best man to try and turn things around. Well, maybe he isn?t, time will tell. Maybe he only finished the job at Valencia, which was started by Ranieri and almost finished by Cuper. After all, he had all the right players, at the peak of their careers and a club which was hungry for success. It helped too that Barcelona were nowhere to be seen in the league and that Real was beginning to crumble. Maybe all of his work at Valencia is really overrated when you dig deep into the analysis. Time will tell. Right now, we?re happy to have him at Liverpool and he?s happy to be here. He still has a lot to prove in his career as a manager but the signs are encouraging. He?s giving it his all, he?s making mistakes too but so would any other manager on this planet. He deserves his chance and no matter who we brought in instead, it wouldn?t win us the league at the moment. So lets be patient and see what happens.
While Benitez is responsible for the squad and the players, so are the players for their own performances and the sad fact is that this group of individuals isn?t good enough. This doesn?t mean that there are no good players in our team because that?s not true. There are quite a few actually, but compared to the very best in this league, and in Europe, they don?t even come close.
I think, time and again, that wrong players have been brought to this club. Our transfer policy seems to be inept and God knows what our scouts are doing. My philosophy regarding player is simple: Talent comes first. The very first think you look for in a player is talent. Now judging talent isn?t based on seeing how many tricks a player can do, but rather watching him in movement. How he receives the ball, how he passes it on, his basic skill on the ball, and his physical attributes. A player needs to be comfortable on the ball. That has to be the first requirement. You need to see that he wants the ball, that he wants to receive it at any possible moment, and that he?s not afraid of it. He has to look like a football player out there, not like a rugby player who happened to chose the wrong sport as a kid (Josem and to some extent Riise being the examples).
The other thing is his work rate. You need to look at his work rate off the pitch. How he trains and how dedicated he is. But this has to be the 2nd most important thing, not the most important. The coach is responsible for training the player, so he decides how much work the player puts in. You can make a player work hard but you cannot teach him how to play football. You can only bring out what is already there regarding the technical side of a players? game and work with his mentality. Players cannot be brought in based on how hard they train or how determined they are. Not at this club. Hard work does not win you trophies, it doesn?t even make you avoid relegation. Hard work is just the additional attribute you need. Talent decides where you?re going, and I?m afraid that in the past years players have been brought to this club based on the ethics of hard work, disregarding the basic talent.
Houllier bought some good players in his time. He really did. But the problem is that wrong players were given the chance. Talented senior players were getting sold (Thompson and Litmanen), and talented youngsters weren?t given a chance. Add to that, that some of the players were being seriously hampered by the poor coaching. The coaching staff somehow managed to turn Heskey into a very funny player. It sounds unreal now, but he was one of the most talented strikers around. He was probably the only player in the league with both fantastic strength and equally fantastic pace. For a short time (until they managed to ruin him by letting him fight for meaningless throw ins or running backwards all the way to Hyypia so he can help out in defending, instead of being played as a central striker) he was an extremely dominant player. Great in the air, and fantastic with his back to goal. Look at him now. Just a sad shadow of a man who should have been one of the best of his generation. Biscan is another example of poor coaching. Instead of improving those players, for years now the other limited players have been playing for this club, and they haven?t improved one bit. I?ll make an example. People say that Traore has improved. Lets be honest, the man has been here for years now. He was branded as a promising defender when he arrived. He was strong but prone to errors. Now, 5 years later, he?s still strong and prone to errors. Has he improved? Maybe by 2% but that?s a pretty poor return on 5 years of work. There are many more examples like him. The club decided to rely on players of very poor quality through the years and it has gotten us nowhere. None of them have improved and we still have the same group of players who have actually gone backwards as players because they cant keep up the motivation, which is really their main attribute. If a player has certain amount of talent, after a couple years in the team, he needs to improve at least 10% in his overall game. How many of our players have done so? Only Gerrard, Baros and Carragher ( yes he has) Why? Because they were the ones with the skills to begin with. Time and again we sign the wrong players because the first thing the club looks at, when signing a player, is how much he can run or how good he is in the air. Those are really the attributes that West Bromwich should look at, not Liverpool.
Looking at the positives, I think we have a nucleus of a good team here. Gerrard, Baros, Cisse, Kewell (if managed properly), Alonso, Morientes and Carragher are definitely worth it. I think those are the players that we should build our team around, but our transfer policy has to change. We have to be signing real players who we know can develop into great players. They dont necessarily have to be great players to begin with but the talent has to be there. If we had been doing that since Houllier took over, we would have had a group of players similar to Arsenal?s now. Rafa has taken a gamble on many players he has signed but he had to really. He had to sign 7-8 players and if 3 or 4 of those turn out to be worth it, then its great piece of business. Its almost impossible to get 8 out of 8 correct, mainly because when you sing that many player, you?re usually in a hurry to sign somebody and you dont have the right amount of money available. But he has mostly tried to sing good players and I think he has succeeded . Xabi Alonso is a brilliant player and already one of the best midfielders in the world. Morientes too is a very good striker. Having watched Luis Garcia at least 15 times last year I knew what to expect. I have written before that he?s just a transitional player for us and I still believe so. He?s not good enough to play in a championship winning side but until we find somebody else, he can do a job. Carson looks like a talented keeper and its nice to have him around. So that?s 4 of Rafa?s signings who will probably turn out to be worthwhile. The rest wont. We will of course continue to back Josemi, Nunez and Pellegrino (doesnt mean he?s a bad player, just pretty much a bit too old to make his bow in this leageu) but at the end of the day they?re not good enough to be here and that remains a hard boiled fact.
So where do we go from here? Well, to Cardiff probably, and then home. It has been, and will continue to be, a desperate season for us but we?re in there fighting. I expect this team to be much stronger next season, even though I dont expect us to challenge for the title just yet. We really need some luck with the injuries and we need to sign 3-4 players to make us stronger. There are too many average players in the team, and too many cracks to cover up but we have to take it little by little. But if we are to progress as a team, we need to start buying players who will go straight into our starting 11. I just hope that Rafa signs the right players and that the club wont give me the incentive to write the same critical words 5 years from now. ”