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DOMINIC KING: Why the knee will never jerk with Liverpool FC supporters over Rafa Benitez
Published : 14 Nov 2009 02:00:00
THE hardest thing to do in testing times, when adversity and animosity is mounting in equal measure, is stick to your guns. It's all too easy to fly off the handle the moment something is not going how you want it and it is a sad indictment of the way football is in this day and age that everything must either be black or white - grey areas no longer exist. Win a couple of games and certain managers immediately find themselves feted as a tactical genius, hailed for breathing fresh life into teams that had gone stale; it's why Chelsea are back in vogue and why Carlo Ancelotti is getting rave reviews at Stamford Bridge. Lose a few, though, and the opposite is true; those who see results betraying them have their odds in the 'sack race' cut by the day, find headlines in certain sections of the media becoming more and more sensational and discover they are the hottest topic on phone-ins. Nobody, it seems, wants to look for reasons why a situation might not be going as planned. Quite simply, when a team is failing to win, somebody must carry the can and that person, invariably, is the man charged with team selection. With that in mind, then, it was both inevitable and predictable Liverpool's failure to see-off Birmingham City on Monday night left Rafa Benitez stuck in the middle of the storm that has been swirling around him for the past month. The Racing Post's back page on Wednesday, for instance, led with a banner which proclaimed 'Beleaguered Rafa clinging to job' and how Irish bookmakers Paddy Power had slashed his price on being the next Premier League boss to go to 3/1. Now before we go any further, Paddy Power, it must be remembered, have recently had their betting partnership with Liverpool cancelled and, upon hearing that news, promptly drew up a market regarding which Reds' player would have their house burgled. Fortunately, the vast majority of those who turn up at Anfield every other week are a much more rational bunch and it explains why there have been no signs of public mutiny during a run which has yielded one win in nine games. There was no booing following the draw nor was there any dissent after the second half collapse at Craven Cottage; when Liverpool conceded a last-minute goal in Lyon, the players were cheered back onto the field.