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http://www.redandwhitekop.com/article.php?id=743445

It always sounds a bit tame when a manager finds excuses –– blaming referees and bad luck with injuries. But there has to come a point where you look at what's happened, and it becomes fair to say things have gone against you to a quite ludicrous degree; do you laugh, or do you cry? Staying sane would appear to be the challenge. To his great credit, Rafael Benitez has avoided making excuses (and thus not given the players a chance to feel sorry for themselves) –– but he has rightly pointed out the problems he has had to contend with. He doesn't labour points about referee's mistakes, or absent players, but he does acknowledge them.

You can start with the litany of injuries. Perhaps you can argue that more could be done about muscle strains (in some cases this is possibly true, although a perfectly fine and a thoroughly-stretched muscle isn't immune to sudden damage; witness the awkward fall of Michael Owen at home to Arsenal last season, and the over-extension of his calf muscle).

Three broken limbs in three-and-a-half months must be some kind of record. It is also worth pointing out that the most serious –– a terrible leg break –– was to the club's record signing, Djibril Cisse, and a £14m investment was removed from the equation in October. This came after the club's best player (and, of course, talisman), Steven Gerrard, broke a metatarsal bone in an innocuous-looking incident at Old Trafford.

The latest injury –– Frank Lampard's late and clumsy tackle on Xabi Alonso –– resulted in a broken ankle for the player who would perhaps have run Gerrard closest for Liverpool Player of the Year (and still might, if his healing is as quick as his thinking). With four months of the season left, Rick Parry must be double-checking all the players' insurance policies, and inviting any willing Witch Doctors to Anfield to remove any curses and hexes bestowed upon the club.

You have to have sympathy for Benitez. How can any manager be expected to deliver consistency in these circumstances? The task he faced this summer was hard enough without the slings and arrows of outrageous bad fortune.

On top of those three fractures (to go with two early during 2003/04), there have been a series of muscle problems: hamstring trouble for Baros and Luis Garcia, causing both to miss a succession of games, and Harry Kewell has been in and out of the side all season with lingering calf and groin injuries. Josemi has missed games from a stomach-turning clash of heads, and now has another injury. Kirkland's back started causing him trouble again, not long after he'd looked to have made the goalkeeper's position his own (albeit far from convincingly). Within a day of his arrival in England, Antonio Nunez fell awkwardly and damaged his knee, which delayed his debut by almost four months. Vladimir Smicer has missed the entire season so far, and will miss a fair bit more of it. Igor Biscan, in the best form of his Liverpool career, fell into the advertising hoardings at White Hart Lane and hasn't been seen since.

Nearly all of this season's injuries have befallen Liverpool's best players, or the 'lesser' players when they were in their best personal form. Benitez has had his hands tied in trying to pick a side, all season long.

And now onto refereeing (and their purblind assistants). All teams experience bad decisions, and bad luck. But it's the level this season which makes it so remarkable.

Let's start with the old clichéd adage: "Decisions even themselves out over the course of a season".

Clearly this is rubbish, as it assumes that there is some fairness at work; unfortunately, the Law of Averages doesn't have to apply, and life just isn't fair. If you flip a coin, and it's heads, the Law of Averages suggests the next flip will be tails. But the next coin flip has no memory of the preceding one; it starts again with a 50-50 chance (in other words, it doesn't say to itself "I landed heads last time, better land tails this time because the Law of Averages says so"). The previous flip has no bearing on the subsequent flip. Quite conceivably you could flip ten coins in a row and they all land on heads. (As a test, I just flipped a coin five times and got heads each time; the sixth was tails).

The difference with football is that during any single match, the referee has a 'memory' of the decisions. He knows that if he's given an unpopular decision (and refs know when they are wrong, they just rarely admit it), he can always 'even it up' later with a generous award. Had another handball occurred in the Chelsea box, you can bet Mike Riley would have been looking to give us a penalty. The officials like to think they treat every decision on its individual merits, but we all know that was has gone before colours their judgement.

The problem we are facing that it's different referees giving us bad decisions; so again there is no 'memory'. Unless we are once again assigned the linesman who wrongly chalked off Luis Garcia's goal at the Reebok (or his one at the Riverside, for that matter), or the referee from the Monaco game who laughably ignored Saviola's blatant handball, then we will have little chance of receiving a redistribution of fairness.

Put simply, the key decisions at the key moments during key games have gone against us. I am not bemoaning the offside goal when we were already well-beaten (having said that, only Boro have beaten Liverpool by more than a single-goal margin this season), or decisions when we were cruising at 3-0. We had a lucky decision in the League Cup at home to Boro, but that was hardly a key game this season; and Hamann could have been sent off against Norwich. Beyond that, very little has gone our way. (Yes, we've scored some deflected goals, but conceded some too; to my mind, a deflected goal is credit to the player for shooting in the first place).

While I don't think we were especially lucky during the Treble season of 2000/01, as plenty of things didn't go our way, the one thing that does stand out is that the key decisions at the key moments during key games went our way. Benitez hasn't had the luck Houllier enjoyed of a defender making a goal-line save with his hand at 0-0 and getting away with it. Against Roma at Anfield, the referee –– as did Mike Riley yesterday –– put his whistle to his lips, but in that case he changed his mind and awarded the Italians only a corner. Benitez has yet to have the luxury of the opposition striker blatantly handling the ball for no apparent reason (as did Patrick Kluivert, inexplicably, when Barcelona lost the Uefa Cup semi-final at Anfield), and the award of the penalty deciding the outcome of the match.

Instead, Benitez has seen opposition defenders punch balls away from almost certain goals (first Muzzy Izzet for Birmingham, and now Tiago of Chelsea) and the referees bottle giving us a decision; perhaps fearing accusations of being influenced by the Kop's cries. When the opposition handled in the other box, as did Javier Saviola in Monaco, it still goes against us; the ref says he saw Saviola move his hand to control the ball before scoring, but it was 'ball-to-hand'.

The tone was set on the first game of the season: Gerrard clearly hauled down by his shirt at Spurs, and nothing given. It wasn't even debatable; the Spurs full-back walked away from the situation with the letters 'ERRARD' and the number 8 clasped in his hand. This season one has been left with the feeling that if Hannibal Lecter were in the opposition defence, and he mutilated and the ate one of our players (with a nice chianti) the referee would look across at his linesman and then wave play on. (Afterwards saying "I felt he clearly played the ball before eating the man").

These are the decisions that have cost us points this season, or at the very least made things much harder for us:

1) White Hart Lane: Gerrard's clear penalty claim waved away.

2) Graz at Anfied: their midfielder is booked twice and doesnt get sent off, and comes close to scoring a crucial goal minutes later.

3) Bolton away: perfectly good goal by Luis Garcia chalked off for offside.

4) Man United away: their first goal comes from a free-kick that should have been our throw in; their second comes from a corner that should have been our goalkick.

5) Millwall away: Kevin Muscatt grabs Baros around the throat and puts his forehead into Milan's face; despite other outrageous fouls, Muscatt not sent off.

6) Blackburn away: Blackburn's second goal is clearly, clearly, clearly offside; just the three players ahead of our defence.

7) Birmingham at home: Muzzy Izzet escapes conceding a penalty and being sent off for saving the ball on the line with his hand. (A week later he repeats the crime, and a penalty is awarded, and he is sent off).

8 ) Palace at Anfield: two penalties are rightly awarded for fouls on Baros; a third –– equally clear –– isn't awarded.

9) Boro away: Luis Garcia scores a goal by perfectly beating the offside trap, for a goal that should have made the game 1-1. Unfortunately, the linesman gets it wrong and we end up losing 2-0.

10) Monaco away: Saviola scores after controlling the ball with his hand. (Diminutive Argentinians and their hands, eh?).

11) Aston Villa away: the home team equalize from a free-kick where Gavin McCann blatantly dives (and subsequently apologizes to Jamie Carragher).

12) Newcastle at home: Newcastle take the lead with the most offside goal in football since 1888. Kluivert is 120 yards offside.

13) Chelsea at home: Tiago punches the ball away from Nunez as the Spaniard is all set to head in from close range. (Nunez, following his header at West Brom, must wonder when he'll ever score with the opposition punching the ball all the time).

(Any I've missed –– I'm sure there have been plenty more fouls on Baros in the box –– feel free to let me know).

While the best teams make their own good fortune to a large degree, even Jose Mourinho admits that Champions need luck on their side, too. While we're not Championship-class yet, we could be much higher up the table if we'd had the 'rub of the green'.
 

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Nice read!

Truly we've had the rottenest of luck. :( The decisions certainly haven't evened out so far this season. I expect a minimum of three penalties and five erroneous offside decisions in our favour per match next season!
 

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all i can come away with is the idea that these incidents can only inspire the lads to fight on with a more fiery spirit next time.

the lads can't possibly let this crap get in the way of being champions. our day will come.
 

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How about Gerrard not getting a red card against Olympiakos before scoring the winner? On the law of averages... try maths :rolleyes:
 

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Well it's a good detailed analysis of our season so far..

Clearly the injuries have been a major issue.. I'd say some of the refereeing issues posted in Andy's email are a bit biased (for instance the Blackburn goal.. I don't see any issues with it other than our bad defending).. But with that said, we've had our rocky times with the men in black.. in both CL and the league.. I think LB17's response is the one that Rafa's trying to push to the players.. "Ok, what's done is done.. don't moan about it.. concentrate on your football".. which I think is the best way to counter this issues..

On the other hand, the injury issues are getting quite frustrating.. I think if anyone knows this.. it's Souness who faced a similar issue when he first took control of Liverpool.. but never in the sense when he didn't have a full line like we have with our attack and we have to rely on youngsters (to their credit, they are doing well and trying their best.. but the gulf in experience, decision making and sometimes skills makes a difference)..

Best I can say is hope our luck starts changing.. I'm not one who likes to blame lady luck a lot.. but sadly, we've had no breaks this season..
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yasir said:
but sadly, we've had no breaks this season..
Well actually we've had 3 already! :frustrat: Cisse, Gerrard and now Alonso :skull:
 

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I can't remember we were this unlucky before. Flip side is we lose lots of point. Positive side is Benitez can instill a kind of seige mentality in the players like Fergie and Wenger does and make then mentally stronger. It can only benifit us for next season.
 

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You have yourself a truly professional coach (finally, one might say). And sooner or later that will materialize into results. If it doesn't it will be a great shame.
 

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Dr. Laborious said:
Location: London (actually, Birmingham now, still England)

:nono:
U support juventus right? I saw your location when I posted that reply. You know what they say abt Juventinos - you count your fingers after you shake hands with them. :cool:
 

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So because I support Juventus I can't possibly have seen at least 5 live Liverpool matches this season, right?
 

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Nope.

But that doesn't mean you would feel what we feel when the we say that we were hard done by by the Lady Luck.

In Serie A, big, powerful business and political figures can have a big influence on the outcome of a match. That's why I said you wouldn't understand, because the way these kinds of unlucky incidents are evened out in a "different" manner back in Italy.

But of course, you might not have detected the sly, cynical tone I adopted, which means that I wasn't entirely serious abt it. :)

The quote abt Juventinos was just a little icing on the cake. We've just lost a perfectly proper game which we arguably deserved the victory more than Chelsea (not saying they don't deserve it), and I can't be a little touchy about it? ;)

P.S: Add funny and humorous smileys next time.
 

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Sly and cynical or not, you still believe that being a Juventus fan means I cannot see whether Liverpool is constantly being cheated or not...

The game against Chelsea you lost because you didn't have good enough creative players (Riise-LuisG-Nunez is not going to frighten any defense). As a result you couldn't break down Chelsea's defense despite a possession advantage. You also lost a lot of organisation when Xabi Alonso left. Quite frankly, I was waiting for the Chelsea goal to happen, especially with the way Chelsea can grind out these kind of wins.

Stop whining about referees and start analyzing what really went wrong and needs work (on top of the things that have gone much better since the arrival of Benitez).
 

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So...had we got that penalty, and maybe also the penalty for the foul on Sinama, and should we have converted those penalties, going into half-time with a 2-0 lead would not make the game, and the result any more different?

If you want to reply saying "that its only IF we got the penalties", or "the game might have been different in the sense that Chelsea might wake up and whack another 4 past us after the first goal we scored", the fact remains the game turned around when what happened happened.

Those of what happened was not in our hands. If we were playing a considerably weaker team, then you have a case against us "whining" abt the defeat. But its Chelsea, and its not everyday we raise our game to the level of that game against them. And when we do raise our game, we play very, very well and we get good results for our efforts.

We don't have any good creative players to trouble the defense - true.
This point was already the case throughout the season so far. But we still played better than them in the creative department (first half), creating twice as many good chances as they did, meaning we DID TRY TO WORK ON that department with whatever players we have fit for the job. It shows that Rafa realizes that and the team WORKED ON solving this 'creative' issue out on te pitch. To be fair, they did very well in the first half.

We lost a lot of organization when Alonso left - true.
This point had more impact on the offensive side of our game than the defensive side. Even if we lost some cutting edge in our attacks, we still managed to contain Chelsea well enough for them not to be all over us in the second half. So how was this little issue rectified? By putting Nunez on, bringing Garcia in behind Sinama, and pushing Gerrard, Riise & Traore down the left channel. Did it work? Yes it did. So the team is trying to WORK on certain things the team is lacking in. :cool:

That is where all these "whining" is coming from, we don't get fair and even breaks for all our efforts, especially when the effort and progress is very obvious for all to see. :( :frustrat: We know what we need to work on, and we are working on it. So when we see that we are working on it very well, getting nothing in reward from all those effort is very, very dissapointing, to say the least :sigh:

To top it off, the referee played a blinder (literally, pun intended). It makes everything harder to swallow, but its just harder to swallow, not un-swallow-able. :) ;)
 

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well explained why we had a legit reason to feel unlucky about this particular game, Karrma. But i can't disagree with Dr. when he says that Riise-LuisG-Nunez is not going to frighten any defense. And while Riise actualy did quite well in the last two games the latter two mentally are not in England yet and need to be replaced by better players. LG has skills and i would keep him in the squad but not as a starter. Gerrard needs a better company in the midfield and if he won't get it he'll almost certainly leave in the summer. And if he leaves... it's too depressing to even think about it bearing in mind that it's been a OneManPool season so far. it's not that nobody else has contributed it's just that StevieG is 51% of our game and needs and desrerves better partners. Didi and Xabi are the only other good mifielders we have. Having Diao + Nunez in same team is just too much for any team to handle. I understand we have been cursed with injuries, but what about Igor? Biscan showed he could play too, does anybody know why that guy isn't even on the sub bench these days?
 

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zico said:
well explained why we had a legit reason to feel unlucky about this particular game, Karrma. But i can't disagree with Dr. when he says that Riise-LuisG-Nunez is not going to frighten any defense. And while Riise actualy did quite well in the last two games the latter two mentally are not in England yet and need to be replaced by better players. LG has skills and i would keep him in the squad but not as a starter. Gerrard needs a better company in the midfield and if he won't get it he'll almost certainly leave in the summer. And if he leaves... it's too depressing to even think about it bearing in mind that it's been a OneManPool season so far. it's not that nobody else has contributed it's just that StevieG is 51% of our game and needs and desrerves better partners. Didi and Xabi are the only other good mifielders we have. Having Diao + Nunez in same team is just too much for any team to handle. I understand we have been cursed with injuries, but what about Igor? Biscan showed he could play too, does anybody know why that guy isn't even on the sub bench these days?
Think he's recovering from the nasty knock he got in the Spurs game back in the Carling Cup. It was head-to-advert board, not board-to-head :pp

He took almost 3 seasons to learn to smile once in the red shirt. With that knock, I reckon its going to take half a season to even get a frown in his face :p :D

He certainly should stay and get games ahead of Diao.

On the garcia-Nunez not being good enough, I'll reserve my judgement as of now. I'll give them one full season to settle in. It's not like they came from the Serie A or Scottish PL. :cool:
 
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