January 20, 2009 |

Dear Rafa,

Me and the lads had a bit of a chin wag after today’s disappointing tie against the Toffees, and we thought we’d send you the minutes of our thinking.

One of the lads thinks you’re a megalomaniac.

I wasn’t entirely sure what that was, so I looked it up and found something that some geezer Betrand Russell said. He said: “The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history.” We don’t mind lunatics – we’ve had more than a few of them – but we’d rather they be great, too.

Another lad said that the real problem over the last couple of weeks is that Rafa Benitez doesn’t seem to be able to get out of Rafa Benitez’s way. I think he is talking about your contract negotiations. Whether the journos are right or wrong, it does seem that you do things your way whether they are working or not – especially if you are criticized for them.

Two things sprung to our minds when he said this – last year’s rotation policy and Lucas Leiva. Don’t get us wrong, we still think that Brazilian Footballer of the Year, Lucas Leiva, is doing a great job of fertilizing Anfield, but he’s not putting himself on the pitch – and especially when there is five minutes left to play in a tight derby that didn’t need five midfielders when two strikers were plenty.

We appreciate that it is not great to lose, but we think it seems like it has become a point of honor not to for you and it is translating to pathological aversion (same lad that used megalomaniac said this) to taking the game to the opposition. Defensive postures are great and many and Italian World Cup team has hoisted the hallowed jug based on this philosophy, but the Premiership doesn’t go to penalties. We have 90 minutes to win games (98 if you are Man U and a goal down) and the same number of minutes to hold onto leads.

Our biggest fear is that we have become infected by what we picked up at Arsenal when we wouldn’t attack a team that was at a numerical and emotional disadvantage. Victories – as wonderful as they have been for me and the lads to dwell on – against Chelsea and Man U mean nothing if we can’t take full points from Stoke and the like, and/or cannot close out games against an Everton squad that hadn’t had a sniff for 40 minutes.

Our second biggest fear – well concern really more than fear – is that this year is becoming a carbon copy of last year when we tied our way into 4th spot. From what we can see, no “Top Four” team has taken this season by the scruff of its neck and shaken it into submission. Or at least they hadn’t until Man U started doing what Man U does – winning games.

And now we are in second spot. Down a game, seemingly without a clue of how to win our own.

Well, we can look forward to Sunday and another crack at the Toffees at home in the FA Cup tie. We trust that all is well at home and send our love to the girls.


The lads of Box 21231