The good, the bad and the uncertain

Well, that’s that then. I know there’s a game over at Hull in the weekend, but it doesn’t really count now, does it?

The good news is, the nightmare of a season’s over. The bad news is that the next year may be even worse. And the uncertain news is we don’t know whether Rafa will still be around next season and whether that’s a good thing or bad.

The final home game of the season neatly summed up Liverpool’s season. They began like they were playing last season, many neat little triangles in the middle of the park, created a few chances and half chances – heck, even Aquilani managed a great shot and got into a great position inside the box when he suddenly realized that his left leg was only to support the right while it worked the ball and not to shoot with. Then, came the nightmare moment that, if Chelsea win the league title next weekend, will be forever controversial. Except that having already back-passed himself in the past to two virtual own goals (the beneficiary both times was the same – Thierry Henry, once wearing the Gunners colours and once Les Bleus), the conspiracy theorists should really exonerate Steven Gerrard. In any case, that moment was as sharp a dividing line in a team’s performance as the Glen Johnson own goal against Arsenal at Anfield. In both cases, the team went from domination to damnation in one moment.

That really seems to be a major problem with the team now – their heads. The heroes of Instanbul are now ready to drop their heads at the first sign of trouble and from then on, all passes are tentative as are tackles, everybody stays rooted to the spot petrified rather than creating space and making runs, and knees turn to jelly. Another shortcoming that was apparent in the game against Chelsea was the (relative) lack of sheer physical power. Time after time, one saw Aquilani, Mascherano, Lucas, Benayoun and even Kuyt brushed off the ball by the more muscular Chelsea players. These two problems need urgent fixing, along with some reshaping of the squad to give it the necessary depth, so that we at least have some chance of thinking about Champions League in 2011.

With no investors in sight, Rafa’s future under the cloud, murmurs of discontent from some players (if one should believe the tabloids), no signs of a new stadium, and of course, no Champions League next year, the summer for Liverpool fans is going to be longer than for the good people of Ramagundam.

Unless something dramatic happens over the summer, we may well struggle to qualify for the Europa next year – particularly if some of the big name players are sold due to financial pressures and lack of Champions League football. I can see Manchester City getting even stronger next year, so also Arsenal as Arsene realizes he needs to buy a few. It’s unlikely Spurs are going to get significantly weaker. And I’m not even going to talk about Manchester United and Chelsea. Which essentially means, unless Liverpool gets some fresh players in, they’ll be even further behind next year.  But given the state of their finances, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to get anyone much better than a Milan Jovanic and Jonjo Shelvey. Try getting into the Champions League with them leading the line!

However, all is not doom and gloom, and the current “crisis” surrounding Liverpool has its silver lining. Next year, I can watch them in peace and enjoy their games without worrying about the results, since I don’t expect anything at all from them. Now that’s a relief after this year!

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