Whilst some Liverpool fans were honest enough to admit they weren’t too happy to see Rafael Benitez’s press conference a few weeks ago, some insisted that he hadn’t lost the plot. In fact, his decision to speak for several minutes about Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson was very clever. United would feel the pressure, referees would feel the pressure, whilst the Liverpool players’ shoulders would be a little lighter, all the attention on us.
I wonder how sensible those fans think the FSW is now…
Liverpool have failed to win a match since Benitez’s press conference, drawing with Stoke, Everton on two occasions, before dropping points again tonight at Wigan. Having taken the lead in the first half, they conceded in the last ten minutes again. Having played a game more than United, they are now 2 points behind us, also trailing behind Chelsea on goal difference.
Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane both struggled with their respective new clubs after leaving Tottenham Hotspur, but there is a striking difference between how their managers handled this dip in form. Berbatov was played for 90 minutes in every game, whilst Keane was subbed off time and again. Then Keane was left out of the squad all together. Then with Liverpool desperately needing a goal tonight, Benitez took off their match-winner, Steven Gerrard, piling the pressure on Keane to come up with the goods in the final five minutes at 1-1.
Berbatov has now scored five goals in his past seven games, whilst Keane, suffering from poor man-management of Benitez, is being linked with a move back to Spurs. Did Keane cost £20 million because Berbatov made him look good in his past two seasons? Or has Benitez squashed all of Keane’s confidence, reducing him to a player Liverpool would be lucky to get £8 million for.
So, here’s a fact for you, and I mean a real fact, not a FSW fact, United have won two more games than Liverpool, earning a goal difference better by 7, and we’ve still got a game in hand on them.
And there was silly old me believing this was their year again. I really ought to stop believing that nonsense. One point ahead of Villa, they need to be making sure they can hold on to their Champions League place before getting above their station.
It’s not over yet but having played all the top teams away and overcoming our trip to Japan, it’s certainly looking good for us.
18 years and counting…
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.