Ryan Sidle sees the Besiktas result as the one to light the fuse and get Liverpool’s season up and running; providing Rafa’s rotation policy doesnt interfere.
When the England rugby union team reached the final of the world cup just a month ago people talked about the achievement simply covering over the cracks in the management. So after watching Liverpool beautifully dispatch Besiktas 8-0 in midweek I couldn’t help think that maybe it was just the same idea as England just a month before.
It’s ridiculous to suggest that it wasn’t a fantastic result and performance, and yet I wonder if that collective performance came from the players and not the manager. Benitez has without doubt bought better players than his predecessor Gerard Houllier; Torres, Babel and Agger in comparison to the French man signing Salif Diao, Bruno Cheyrou and El-Hadji Diouf. But then what good are you’re best signings is they warm the bench in the Premiership only to start in a league cup game during the week, this is exactly what Benitez did with Torres, more than 25 million pounds worth of one player has to watch his team draw 0-0 with Birmingham and worse still offer little or no threat.
His rotation policy shows him in a terrible light; it shows a stubborn manager who might never know his best 11. It almost looks like he sits down before the season and decides who will play which games. His handling of another striker, Peter Crouch, is not those of a man manager. Last week Benitez suggested the Englishman might only be an impact player, midweek Besiktas felt that impact for 90 minutes. And yet last season after scoring a hat-trick against Galatasaray was then benched for the next two weeks.
Back to the result, and of course it was huge, but unfortunately for Liverpool 8-0 or 1-0 it still only translates to 3 points. And yes Liverpool are still unbeaten in the league this season, but it seems they have swapped decent league form for bad Champions league form. When the groups were drawn Porto were seen as the main challengers but not Marseilles form cannot be ignored and the reds still need 6 points from a home game against Porto followed by a meeting with a Marseille team led by Djibril Cisse, a man with something to prove.
Of course it’s not all doom and gloom for Benitez and Liverpool. There was of course a certain match against Olympiakos in 2004, which lit the fuse for that famous night in Istanbul. They’re doing better in the league. And rotated or not they still have quality players. The games between now and then end of 2007 will be huge for Liverpool including a league cup quarter final against Chelsea. The questions still remain. Can Liverpool challenge for the Premier League? Will Benitez work out his best 11? And can Liverpool gain the 6 points they need from the last two Champions league games