January 29, 2009 |

Dear Rafa,

Our lot says “hi” To Montse and the girls. We all hope they are doing well in what must be some trying times in the Benitez household. What, with the contract negotiations breaking down and all. We’re sure all the stick you are taking in the press about you having a nervo aren’t doing you any favours either.

But onto today’s game.

Frankly, we are a little concerned that it used to be that we were the team that were to be feared and respected in the last 10 minutes of a game – winning or losing – and now we are the ones leaking late points.

There’s not much you can do when a team takes two shots on goal all night (both in the last 7 minutes) and one of them goes in. It wouldn’t be all that troubling if it wasn’t becoming a trend to allow teams to come at us late when they should’ve already received last rites.

Many of us would follow you through the gates of hell, and did when we unswervingly defended your rotation policies, your wobblers and even your devotion to a Brazilian kid that never quite filled out a Liverpool jersey.

But honestly, some of the things you’ve said and done lately lead us to believe that one of our lads is correct – perhaps you’ve been fiddling too long and the smoke is starting to blind you.

We know that you are still relatively new to English football, and especially Liverpool football, so basically all you need to remember is this: if Bill Shankly couldn’t get it all from management, there is a pretty good chance that Rafael Benitez won’t – at least not while there’s 19 years worth of dust to be cleared out of the trophy cabinet.

Maybe you’re going about this contract lark all wrong. You’ve proven that you can take the lot you have now to the top, so focus on decisions that keep them there and you’ll have the best 11 negotiators in Liverpool come contract time. All else is just noise, and right now there is a lot more sound than fury. Anyway, enough politics. It’s the Sports Section we should be focusing on.

Speaking of which, we all agree. It was a pretty average performance today. It was all a bit flat out there. Nando looked a bit lonely and tired, Larva looked a bit sluggish and Lucas looked like he was at sea. Lucas is not a bad kid, he’s just not a good one either. We are all quite sure that the pedigree you want him so badly to show will become evident somewhere else. It’s just not happening at Liverpool.

Yes, we give him a bit of stick, but the types of tackles and poor decisions, that cost us two points today mind you, are more the rule than the exception. We don’t get the opportunity to see what you see day in and day out with the lad, but we do get to see him on the days you trot him out. And it hasn’t been pleasant viewing. Maybe it isn’t fair to pick him out of an underperforming crowd, but his is one more sub par performance in a list of them that continues to get longer.

It isn’t all doom and gloom. We’re still in with a sniff in all things foreign and domestic, but it’s just more than a little gutting to look up and see who is sitting in the spot, with a game in hand, that was ours for 8 glorious weeks. It’s usually takes and act of God to knock them off that perch.

Well that’s it. It’s a big one on Sunday (not that there are any little ones left). So from me and mine to you and yours, best of luck this week.


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