Rafael Benítez: 10 mistakes that have cost Liverpool

October 22, 2009

Giulio Romano, 1526-1534
“This summer’s transfer strategy. Rafael Benítez has purposely avoided conflict with Liverpool’s owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, this season but there are signs diplomacy over their budget restrictions is beginning to wane as pressure mounts. “We signed three players and we wanted four,” he said before Lyon. The fourth, it is safe to assume, was a forward. Not signing quality cover for Fernando Torres, and being so short of strikers that David Ngog started the critical game against the French and Andriy Voronin was reluctantly brought back from loan at Hertha Berlin, is proving catastrophic.” (Guardian)

Liverpool could be counting the cost of European failure for years to come
“It is never a happy prospect to be staring at a possible Champions League exit and bonfire of title hopes even before 5 November but for Liverpool this autumn’s struggle for form is particularly ill-timed. Pride, history and the nagging sense of unfulfilled promise soak Anfield with highly-strung, permanent expectation, but at a time like this, to put it bluntly, they cannot afford to fail.” (Guardian – David Conn)

James Lawton: Rafa show is ready for the final curtain
“If there was any mystery to the question now being asked in open panic on Merseyside, the situation might not seem quite so hopeless. Unfortunately there isn’t. We know well enough, and have done so for some time, the answer to ‘What’s it all about, Rafa?’ It is almost entirely about Rafa, and no team has prospered long term under such egocentric control.” (Independent)

Red for danger: Liverpool empire could be one defeat from crumbling
“Four consecutive losses have left Liverpool seemingly at the risk of implosion. After defeat by Lyons in the Champions League on Tuesday, their next opponents are Manchester United and Rafael Benítez’s side will take to the pitch at Anfield on Sunday in the knowledge that another loss would all but end their Barclays Premier League title hopes with seven months of the campaign remaining.” (TimesOnline)

Liverpool v Manchester United: top 10 video moments
“Watch YouTube clips of classic matches between Liverpool and Manchester United as English football’s fiercest rivalry is renewed in the Premier League at Anfield on Sunday.” (Telegraph)

The Five Best Central Midfielders In World Football

October 22, 2009

“Situated in the heart of every great team is always a truly special central midfielder who is capable of taking matches by the scruff of their neck and dominating them. Some midfielders are specialists in the holding role, others have an uncanny knack of scoring goals but every so often a player comes along that can excel in all areas. A prime example of this particular species has to be this week’s ArsenalFCBlog’s interviewee Cesc Fabregas.” (SoccerLens)

Europe’s Big Names Falter on Surreal Night

October 22, 2009

“When Michel Platini promised to open up European soccer so that clubs from the east might enjoy the spoils of the Champions League, even he could not have envisaged a night like this. Hand on heart, who imagined that Rubin Kazan, Russia’s champion from Tatarstan, would travel to Barcelona on Tuesday and defeat the team acknowledged as the best on earth?” (NYT)

UEFA Champions League Group Standings after Matchday 3 – Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 22, 2009

“The UEFA Champions League has complete three rounds of group stage matches or its half-way point. A few teams are very close to clinching a spot to the knockout stage while some clubs have a lot of work to do. Manchester United and Chelsea are both 3-0-0 and a win away from clinching their spots to the next round. Here are the updated UEFA Champions League Group Standings after matchday 3 and through Wednesday, October 21, 2009.” (The 90th Minute)

Explaining Egyptian underachievement

October 22, 2009

“Since losing to a Mark Wright header at Italia 90, Egypt have amassed a total of three African Cup of Nations (ACN) victories as well as seven African Champions Leagues shared between their two top clubs. They inflicted a 4-1 drubbing on Ivory Coast’s greatest ever side just under two years ago, disposed of Italy this year and put three past Brazil only to lose to a last-minute penalty. Yet this is also a country that has qualified for the World Cup just twice, with one being in 1934 where qualification consisted of one game and being willing to travel outside your own country.” (WSC)

The forgotten story of … East Germany’s DDR-Oberliga

October 22, 2009

“Here’s Timothy Garton Ash writing in the New York Review of Books: ‘The year 1989 was one of the best in European history. Indeed, I am hard pushed to think of a better one. It was also a year in which the world looked to Europe – specifically to Central Europe, and, at the pivotal moment, to Berlin. World history – using the term in a quasi-Hegelian sense – was made in the heart of the old continent, just down the road from Hegel’s old university, now called the Humboldt University. Twenty years later, I am tempted to speculate (while continuing to work with other Europeans in an endeavour to prove this hunch wrong) that this may also have been the last occasion – at least for a very long time – when world history was made in Europe. (Guardian)