It maybe the time that Rafael Benitez delivers. Geroge Gillett and Tom Hicks may eagerly be ready to hand over a new contract extension just to get them in the good books with the Liverpool faithful. Perhaps in a time of a credit crunch, the Americans may be reluctant to sell up, as they will not value for money. So they are going to bide their time. What a way to do that by giving the hugely popular Benitez a slap on a back and a new money-spinning contract. Benitez has been given the funds to pursue his and the clubs title aspirations but when will that be. This season looks the most likely so far in his campaign as he has already gained victory in two six-pointer games against Manchester United and Chelsea. The signing of Robbie Keane and Albert Riera has certainly made the squad much better. Keane especially maybe the missing jigsaw piece to the Benitez set up. Riera has been impressive, despite not showing any of this form when on loan to Manchester City, and has taken a firm grip of that left midfielder position. The positions that do not convince me are the full backs. Benitez spent big on Italian left back Andrea Dossena and so far, he does not look convincing. Swiss Philipp Degan has joined but has not been selected. Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Aurelio are no better. Looking at the teams around Liverpool, it is a place where they struggle and relativity poor at. The blank cheque at Chelsea was able to obtain Ashely Cole, Wayne Bridge, Juliano Belletti, Paula Ferreira and Jose Bosingwa as they top the league. They even have Michael Essien to fill in as he did in the Champions league final. Champions Manchester United have captain Gary Neville, Patrice Evra, Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Rafael Da Silva to rely on. Arsenal have Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Eboue, or even William Gallas to fill those full back position. It is obvious that Liverpool certainly are lacking in these position and in the new age of modern football, the full backs are integral in fluent attacking side and this position should not be underestimated. Roberto Carlos and Cafu showed how important attacking fullbacks could be. For Brazil, they were the fundamental part of any surge forward and the quick relief, or overlap, is any move down the wings. John Arne Riise was a goal scoring left back but often played in midfield. Steve Finnan’s career slowly began to go of tracks as age is playing nuisance with him. Jan Kromkamp was a quick export as was Josemi, both can and went within a year. Aurelio has a good left foot (remember the volley against Bolton Wanderers) and has good passing ability but you will not see him terrorising the opposition. Arbeloa is a great addition to any squad but remains similar to Aurelio as he do not scare the opposition. New arrivals Dossena and Degan still have time to make an impact but current form they are not massive assets to the first team as a whole. This may be the weak point in trying to regain top spot. In the Benitez reign, Liverpool have acquired a famous Champions League win in his first season and a FA Cup in his second but it remains that Premiership that has eluded him. That would be the hardest trophy to win for Benitez. If Manchester United win the title this year, it would leave a disgustingly bitter taste in those supporters grubby mouths. Simply because they would have equalled Liverpool’s all time championship wins of 18. Records are there to be broken and some records are there to be fought for. This season is crucial.
1. Main Columnist for Reading FC fanzine - the whiff 2. Contributor for Southampton Solent University Newspaper - Solent Star 3. Report on Sixth Form Presentation Day published in Reading Chronicle, Reading Evening Post and the Henley Standard 4. Contributor to Solent University Magazine - RE:SUS
- Neil Ruddock (ex-Liverpool and Tottenham footballer) - Lawrie McMenamy (Southampton's FA Cup winning Manager) - Matt Le Tissier (Southampton FC Legend) - Rob Wilson (Conservative MP) - Iwan Thomas (Olympic Silver Medalist) - George Burley (Scotland Manager) - Simon Grayson (ex-Blackpool Manager) - Shaun Udal (ex-England cricketer) - Steve Coppell (Reading Manager) - Lawrie Sanchez (ex-Northern Ireland Manager) - Terry Paine (Southampton's All Time Record Appearance Holder) - Giles White (Hampshire Team Manager) - Tim Tremlett (Hampshire Director of Cricket) - Billy Taylor (Hampshire Bowler) - Kevan James (ex-Hampshire Bowler) - Owen Coyle (Burnley Manager) - Mark Wotte (Southampton Manager) - Kevin Latouf (ex-Hampshire Cricketer) - Jimmy Adams (Hampshire Batsman) -Chris Tremlett (Hampshire Fast Bowler) - Dimi Mascarenhas (Hampshire and England cricketer) - Neil Webb (Ex-Reading, Manchester United and England star)