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Liverpool pay the price as Begiristain stirs the mix

Football FanCast guest columnist Keith Andrews is in no doubt
what is responsible for Javier Mascherano's downturn in performance this

When I
look at this current Liverpool side this season, I see something of a Ferrari
chassis, powered by an old Ford engine and that is something that Rafa Benitez
needs to address.

The loss
of Xabi Alonso as we know has left a massive hole in our midfield, one that we
hope Aquilani will eventually fill, however the dip in form from Javier
Mascherano has proved just as significant and suddenly what was a sound running
engine that provided the focal point for the team, resembles one that is
completely out of tune and misfiring.

Rafa has
come out today and said Javier is suffering. Whether it is the pressure of captaining
Argentina, who are struggling to qualify for next year's World Cup, or the more
likely scenario that his head has been turned by the summer interest in Barcelona;
for whatever reason he is definitely struggling and is an absolute shadow of
the once dominant force in our midfield. He is even making Lucas look half
decent; a feat in itself.

I find it
absolute disgrace the way Barcelona has acted and we are not the only ones who
are suffering. Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas has had a shocking start of the season
and the noises coming out of the Emirates that he is also suffering from this ‘Catalan
Interest' fever. It makes me laugh when you hear the likes of FIFA and UEFA
claiming they hope to clean the game up and yet they let clubs get away with
blatant tapping up. Rafa Benitez has come out and claimed that he has had to
continually warn off
Barca's sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, yet they clearly are not getting the
hint, and the authorities won't step in. I suppose it is because Barcelona aren't English,
otherwise you can guarantee that they would look to interfere, such is their
obvious disdain of the Premier League.

The real
problem is that we have little in reserve with Javier misfiring, so it is of
massive importance that Rafa gets him back on track because our success this
season depends on it. Mascherano is the one player who makes this Liverpool
team tick and his endless work rate frees up the likes of Gerrard, Benayoun and
Kuyt to support Torres in attack, while providing a much needed screen for the

Rafa was
quite right to suggest that he owes this football club, as we gave him the platform,
when no one was prepared to touch him at West Ham; however I really fear his
head has been fully turned and as we know from experience it is very hard to
get them back. It would be nice to think that Mascherano could show the same
level of professionalism that Alonso showed during last season and give everything
for the football club – time will
tell to see if he will; however if he doesn't – then we know where to point the
finger of blame.

Soccer Millionaire

Article title: Liverpool pay the price as Begiristain stirs the mix

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