Jamie Redknapp report: The fans' faith in Rafa Benitez will not last forever

02 November 2009 04:22
IN RAFA WE TRUST? The Liverpool fans chant 'In Rafa We Trust' . . . but for how long? They view him as a victim of the battle between the owners; they believe he has had a lack of support and that has helped to buy him some time.

He has played up to that, but even the most ardent supporter must question the key decisions at Fulham. If Fernando Torres is fit to play, then he's fit to play. Very few players in the modern game will be 100 per cent fit for matches. You play with niggles - that's part of the job.

On their knees: Jamie Carragher is sent off at Fulham in another Liverpool loss

Trustworthy? Under-fire boss Rafa Benitez

It wasn't the best performance from Torres but his equalising goal was stunningly executed and a reminder to us all of what he can do. Without Torres, as well as Steven Gerrard being injured, Liverpool were like a wounded animal.

And Fulham went in for the kill. Not only was there the puzzling issue of taking off Torres, but removing Yossi Benayoun with 12 minutes to go was odd, too.

Benayoun is the creative force in the team when Steven Gerrard is injured. Maybe, at 2-1 down, Benitez thought the game was lost and was also saving Benayoun for Europe.

What I will say is that the supporters pride themselves on being real fans, with no knee-jerk reactions. They're not fickle like supporters of other clubs and they will always support the team. Benitez is fortunate that is the case.

THE MASTER STIFLER    More from Jamie Redknapp. Jamie Redknapp's weekend watch: Bobby Zamora brings so much more01/11/09 Jamie Redknapp's weekend watch: Lucas and Mascherano were too quick25/10/09 Jamie Redknapp's weekend watch - Drogba and Carvalho in the firing line18/10/09 JAMIE REDKNAPP: Let me spell it out - Rio has NOT lost his magic touch12/10/09 Jamie Redknapp on Frank Lampard: We started out using grandad's back yard07/10/09 JAMIE REDKNAPP'S WEEKEND WATCH: Berbatov needs to just cool it04/10/09 GOAL! The game's top players are scoring for fun this season. but why?28/09/09 Jamie Redknapp's weekend watch: Keane gives Harry a nice problem27/09/09 VIEW FULL ARCHIVEIt seems Benitez is happier in the Champions League, or when Liverpool are the underdogs. He will love the prospect of going to Lyon and getting a result against the odds.

Look at the Manchester United game last weekend, when he did a brilliant job of shutting down the space where Wayne Rooney can play. He would have the same attitude about going away to Real Madrid or Inter Milan: fielding two holding midfielders, he would stop them from playing and then try to nick a result with a counter-attacking style of play.

It works in Europe, but it's not so productive in the domestic league against teams Liverpool should be defeating.

THE SQUAD Not every Liverpool player is delivering. Javier Mascherano is playing like he wants to be somewhere else. Yes, they have lost Xabi Alonso but Mascherano is going missing. He played well against United but that was a rare performance this season.

The captain of Argentina should be stamping his authority on matches. It's too easy to say the squad isn't strong enough. Last season Gerrard and Torres played only 14 games together so the rest of the group - players like Dirk Kuyt, Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina - managed to get Liverpool to within four points of Manchester United.

If Torres and Gerrard aren't fit, others need to step up.

Could leave: Star striker Fernando Torres

DOOMSDAY SCENARIO If Liverpool don't finish in the top four this season - and they are the most vulnerable - what will happen to their top players?

Will Torres want to play in the Europa League next season? Every club in the world would be after him; the World Cup would be his audition. And maybe Liverpool's owners would be tempted to sell. They would get £50million plus.

The club would be able to rely on Gerrard and Carragher to stay. Their attitude would be: 'We helped get the club in this mess, we'll help get them out of it.'

They are the cornerstones of the club, but will many of the foreign players feel the same? Let's hope, for Liverpool's sake, it doesn't come to this. But Manchester City, especially, will have their eyes on happenings at Anfield. And how much would Mark Hughes enjoy that!

SO, SHOULD RAFA GO? No. Not yet. What's the alternative? Clubs need to take a deep breath at times like this and ask: who can we get who will improve our position?

Liverpool have lost six of the last seven, but it will cost a fortune to sack him and a new coach will then need time to rebuild and change his playing staff, as well as the style of play he has coached.

Stifled: Yossi Benayoun (left) was substituted against Fulham

If they lose to Lyon and then again against Birmingham and Manchester City in their next Barclays Premier League matches, it would be time to reconsider that answer.

Benitez is fortunate that the fans still back him and that he doesn't have a group of players working against him. In the modern game, players will go to the owner. We saw that with Chelsea under Phil Scolari.

Liverpool's key players are just determined to put it right. And right now, that means trying to help the manager out of a mess that has been his own doing to a great extent.


Source: Daily_Mail