Rafa Benitez Puts the Brakes on RotationBy: Daryl | November 10th, 2007
Rafa Benitez finally ended the seemingly endless squad rotation at Liverpool today, picking the same eleven against Fulham that demolished Beşiktaş 8-0 in midweek. The result was another win. Not 8-0 again – it’s doubtful any team will come to Anfield and surrender so completely again this season – but 2-0, which still gets you the same amount of points. Maybe Benitez finally got round to reading all the newspapers and blogs that have called for consistency at Anfield for the last year and more, or maybe he was just so impressed with the Reds midweek display that he felt there was no choice. Either way, it worked.
Sticking with the less glamorous but non-injured/non-Dirk Kuyt pairing of Peter Crouch and Andriy Voronin up front, Liverpool went about their business. They didn’t actually score until Fernando Torres came off the bench to replace Voronin and snuck a cheeky 82nd minute shot inside Anti Niemi’s near post. But the Ukrainian had looked lively and he was one of a number of Liverpool players who woulda coulda shoulda been on the scoresheet if not for Anti Niemi’s reflexes. Ryan Babel also made a positive impact from the bench, adding some pace and width down the right hand side.
Gerrard made it two just three minutes after Torres had scored, by banging home a penalty after Peter Crouch (who we were all in favour of last weekend, maybe Rafa has put The Offside in his RSS?) was tripped in the box. So more late woe for Fulham, who would be a much better team if football was like rugby and the final whistle went after 80 minutes.
Will be interesting to see what Rafa does with his Liverpool team away to Newcastle next weekend. I was prepared to write off the 8-0 win as a one off, that Rafa would ruin with tactical tinkering and player swapping, destroying player’s confidence and disrupting any pattern of play. But what he did this weekend has probably left players like Crouch, Voronin and even Torres and Babel feeling confident, and the team looking like, well a team. No one’s demanding a third consecutive unchanged eleven, especially with the way Torres and Ryan Babel performed after getting their tracksuits off, but it would be nice and logical if the next selection at least reflected what had happened in the last two games.