EIGHT IS ENOUGH

November 07, 2007 |

I’d write a match report, but I only have 12GB of space on my computer.
There are many players worth mentioning but it was Benny Onion’s star that shone brightest. True to his moniker, he had the type of performance that makes you cry – a hatter and he set up two (okay 2 assists for our American friends). Even when Liverpool was three to the good, the man never stopped running. He was leaping 30 yards into the air (this is the post-match adrenaline-induced hyperbole speaking) to bring down errant cross field long balls.
But will he play on Saturday? And what about Mt. Crouch? He played well enough to lend louder voice as to why he has not been more of a regular feature. His two were well taken and it should’ve been three were his legs not apt to fold underneath him. But was it enough to please gaffer Rafa? You have to wonder whether the level of competition and Crouch’s public outbursts regarding his lack of first team time, will sway his decision.
But for now the rotation policy can rest fitfully. What happened last night at Anfield truly was a performance worthy of a record. Whatever Rafa put in his team’s morning tea definitely worked. This was a markedly different squad than any 11 players that has taken the pitch since the Chelsea game. Thirty shots. Thirty. And 3 of the 8 goals where of second chances off saves. You almost have to feel sorry for Besiktas. Almost.
It was only Besiktas. This has been loitering on lips and in the air since the final whistle blew. Of course there will be those that will insist that this record comes with an asterisk. But it is the same Besiktas that beat Liverpool two weeks ago. Plus, I can’t imagine in the history of the competition that a big team has not faced off against a much weaker team and yet Liverpool was the first team to put 8 by any one of them. Man U’s seven-goal performance against Roma last year was impressive; but that only tied the record – the record is now held by Liverpool.
It was only Besiktas. And there will be those that will point to the jammy nature of a few of the goals: Stevie G’s deflected goal; the one off the back of Babbel; Benny’s second and third that a blind man, without the help of his dog, could’ve slotted. But when you are team struggling to score you’ll take them however you can get them. And when you make enough of your own chances, some unexpected ones will eventually trot along, too.
It was only Besiktas. And maybe thank goodness for it. Because more important than any record they may’ve given Liverpool is the confidence their collapse will provide. Before yesterday it was a heavily-dented confidence codpiece that Liverpool was limping around in. After last night, the next time you see the codpiece it will almost surely have a freshly burnished glow to it. It’ll probably seem a lot more filled out, too.
It was only Besiktas. Yes, but sometimes you have to put an emphatic thump on the Sands-on-Grange Third Elevens of the world to get your tails up. Why else do managers take their squads to exotic locales to play small teams under the guise of “preseason friendlies?” Other than taking a working vacation, it is to instill a sense of confidence in their lads. And the tan doesn’t hurt either. It really doesn’t matter who Liverpool gets their swagger back from, as long as they get it back.
But as I always do, I have to peer into the darker side of a game like this. A victory of this margin can also induce over-confidence, bigheadedness if you will. However in this instance, probably not. Liverpool has been so short of confidence for so long that this win will only bring them to about where they ought to be. And anyway, with Rafa’s massive exchange rate, any expensive uber-ego will find its way into the vault.
Self-assurance is also a highly unstable compound. If they lose this weekend, it will evaporate quicker than Paris Hilton’s jail time. I said it before, Liverpool has to put a string of solid 90-minute performances together to make any poise and self-belief a permanent fixture.
We can all hope that this is the game that puts Liverpool back in the pound seat. It’s Fulham at home this weekend, so we’ll get to see just how much this win has lifted an uninspired Reds contingent.

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