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The more I see Mascherano, the more ridiculous it seems that Pardew didn't want to play him at West Ham.

Pardew's not a great manager and he's got that 'traditional' English idea that those sort of players aren't very important. It also helped that he had something to prove when he came to Anfield.

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Finnan was superb coming forward and put the best balls into the box

I kinda agree, he did well getting forward and made some great blindside runs but his crossing was way below the level you expect from him. Infact there were hardly any decent balls into the box until Pennant came on, and we scored from his best one. Gerrards delivery from set pieces was also quite disappointing again :(

Absolutely psyched about the result though, we can be very pleased with the majority of our play (and big Sami being a monster at the back) but once again lacked the cutting edge in the final third. Got away with it this time though ;)

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Interesting piece from The Guardian writer; Paul Doyle

......Guess that means there'll be no more hysterical headlines calling for the Spaniard's head tomorrow. Oh yes, like skinny jeans and those mass produced "tribal" tattoos that ovine women insist on getting at the base of their backs, badmouthing Benítez is all the rage these days. But though it's true the Spaniard has committed errors of judgement during his three-and a-half-years at Anfield, it must also be acknowledged that he's made many inspired decisions too. And it's plain wrong to say that overall he's underachieved.

Tonight was just another step in his already-legendary European odysseys. As for the Premier League, only a wizard or a criminal could have connived to get Liverpool closer to Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in that time. Those clubs are far richer, as, indeed, are Inter. It's unreasonable to expect Liverpool to rival them on the pitch if they can't match them in the market.

United and Chelsea have, over the last few seasons, forked out colossal fees and wages that Liverpool can't afford. Arsenal may have been more prudent in terms of players - because they were busy splurging over £400m on a brand spanking new 60,000-seater stadium - but they've still had the luxury of speculating to the tune of £10m on Theo Walcott. Furthermore, Arsène Wenger has been able to augment his purchases with a stream of youngsters schooled at the club - they constitute the fruit of many years' cultivation. Liverpool's youth academy lapsed into decrepitude under Gérard Houllier - the club has brought through no young players through since Steve Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen ten years ago. Benítez has begun to revamp the facility but, even though the youngsters are now top of their reserve league, it will take time for the senior team to reap the rewards.

Liverpool fans' insistence on competing with teams who've far greater resources is perhaps the last relic of the days when they were kings. When David Moores began his chairmanship in 1991 Liverpool were unquestionably the finest club in the land. The reign quickly unravelled amid negligence and nonsensical decisions. That was the context in which Benítez arrived in 2004. His astonishing feat of winning the Champions League in his first season (just two years and nine months ago) perhaps convinced fans that the unfeasible leap into a new era had been completed. In reality, what that victory, the run to the final in 2007 and tonight's win show was that in cup competitions, where the disparity wrought by superior resources is not as stark as in 38-game seasons, Benítez can make a little go a long, long way.

Here's a question for anyone who still thinks Benítez should be ousted: if Benítez were to be sacked tomorrow, who could take Liverpool higher? The American owners' flirtation with Jürgen Klinsmann doesn't suggest they know the answer to that question. One obvious candidate is David Moyes, whose Everton side currently sit above Liverpool in the Premier League. You could argue, if you were looking for a contrived point in his favour, that Moyes's superiority in the transfer market is neatly summed up by the fact that it is he, not Benítez, who has recruited the best Spanish midfielder currently on Merseyside (and it's true that Mikel Arteta was an excellent signing, especially for just £2m). Though that would be to ignore the millions squandered on the likes of Per Kroldrup and James Beattie.

Also, solid as Everton have been this season, it remains to be seen whether Moyes can sustain such form over a longer period or instead lurch into another battle against relegation as per their one-terrific-season-followed-by-one-terrible-season model. And, of course, you might also question whether it's worth Everton qualifying for the Champions League bearing in mind their farcical venture into it in 2005-06.

Andriy Voronin is no genius (but what do you expect from a free signing? He's no worse than Steve Sidwell or Claudio Pizarro at Chelsea) but in general Benítez bought very well in 2007; his one marquee signing, Fernando Torres, has been an outstanding success. Lucas Leiva, Javier Mascherano and Alvaro Arbeloa are effective and Benayoun and Babel have contributed goals and - crucially, given that some detractors liken him to Houllier - unpredictability, the precious quality that Houllier feared in his players. So his most recent signings have suggested he's headed in the right direction, even if many of those that preceded it didn't.

Having said all that, it's true that Liverpool have produced some dreadful performances this season. Perhaps Liverpool do need to bring in a new man. But not to replace Benítez , rather to assist him. The disjointed displays at home to the likes of Marseille, Wigan and Birmingham and away to Besiktas and Boro, along with recent rumblings of discontent from Liverpool's dressing room, indicate that the club is missing Pako Ayesteran more than Benítez would have hoped. Benítez's former No2, who left Anfield last August, was the players' friend, the cuddly man-manager who helped ensure the team and Benìtez, whose personality is more remote, were on the same wavelength. Benítez hasn't replaced Ayesteran - and allegedly vetoed a proposal to install Paul Jewell in that role before Jewell went to Derby County.

Perhaps after a perceived betrayal by his long-time partner he's finding it difficult to trust another man. He needs to get over that and commit to a new relationship. Or maybe tonight's result over the runaway leaders of Serie A will foster new togetherness and cohesion between team and manager - as well as fans and owners.

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I kinda agree, he did well getting forward and made some great blindside runs but his crossing was way below the level you expect from him. Infact there were hardly any decent balls into the box until Pennant came on, and we scored from his best one. Gerrards delivery from set pieces was also quite disappointing again :)

I agree. I think Kuyt put in a couple of great crosses, one of which really should have resulted in a goal. He was so productive last night. Even after we went 4-4-2 with him playing on the left wing he upped his game further. A big part of why Finnan got so much joy down the right was due to Kuyt's running and linking the play. Maicon is a very good fullback, one of the best right backs about at the moment, and Kuyt got the better of him time and again, from the left wing! I was very impressed with him last night, and I think it's a pity that his contribution before the goal has slipped under the radar a bit.

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Only using Pennant and Crouch as late subs when (due to circumstance) the opposition don't have any height in central defence is absolutely amazing managerial ineptitude, regardless of a deflection and an outstanding individual effort saving the day.

Liverpool, unsurprisingly, suddenly ceased to look totally inert when they had been brought on.

That was the main observation I made in this most dull of matches.

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Ok so here is a question for you all:

Do you think it's possible for a manager to create a side that can both perform well in Europe every year and achieve domestic success at the same time?

To me it seems like that the styles of football on display are so different that you have to have adaptability which can only result in compromise.

You could argue that MU, Chelsea and Arsenal have all failed to achieve success in Europe during their reigns at the top of the English game.

Perhaps playing premiership football week in, week out is also something that negatively affects the English national side as International football is closer to the European game than it is our domestic game.

Much like a sport like F1, the performance required for success is in the last few % so trying to build a flexible team and style that can compete on multiple fronts risks winning nothing.

Is the premier league too big and therefore open to a big gulf in quality?

P.s. Well done Kuyt. Even with all the criticism he never hid, always chased the ball and worked his socks off. A lot of lesser men would have folded. I like the fact that he does actually try and attack, even if his pace is lacking.

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Only using Pennant and Crouch as late subs when (due to circumstance) the opposition don't have any height in central defence is absolutely amazing managerial ineptitude, regardless of a deflection and an outstanding individual effort saving the day.

Liverpool, unsurprisingly, suddenly ceased to look totally inert when they had been brought on.

That was the main observation I made in this most dull of matches.

You just don't have a clue at all about football. That much is apparent from your trolling / posts in this thread over the past few months.

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To me it seems like that the styles of football on display are so different that you have to have adaptability which can only result in compromise.

I would say this is something Liverpool try to do which has resulted in our Premiership compaign losing its edge. Rafa's team is adapted to every situation put forward but it doesn't always mean we get the best result. Sometimes its best not to adapt and just demand the opposition adapts to you.

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You just don't have a clue at all about football. That much is apparent from your trolling / posts in this thread over the past few months.

So pray tell me what is incorrect about the post. If you find anything in that post disagreeable it is you who has no clue.

Liverpool came alive and were suddenly very dangerous in front of goal when Pennant and Crouch had been brought on. Deny this so we can laugh.

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I would say this is something Liverpool try to do which has resulted in our Premiership compaign losing its edge. Rafa's team is adapted to every situation put forward but it doesn't always mean we get the best result. Sometimes its best not to adapt and just demand the opposition adapts to you.

I wonder if that is really a workable plan. Does anyone here have experience of the tactical depth and analysis performed by top flight football team management? Are they matching player vs player on every single game to be played? The possibility for analysis and strategy is almost limitless. Maybe the best premiership tactic is to have a set style or plan for 80% of the games and then tweak for the tough fixtures.

I just don't know..

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Ok so here is a question for you all:

Do you think it's possible for a manager to create a side that can both perform well in Europe every year and achieve domestic success at the same time?

To me it seems like that the styles of football on display are so different that you have to have adaptability which can only result in compromise.

You could argue that MU, Chelsea and Arsenal have all failed to achieve success in Europe during their reigns at the top of the English game.

Perhaps playing premiership football week in, week out is also something that negatively affects the English national side as International football is closer to the European game than it is our domestic game.

Much like a sport like F1, the performance required for success is in the last few % so trying to build a flexible team and style that can compete on multiple fronts risks winning nothing.

Is the premier league too big and therefore open to a big gulf in quality?

P.s. Well done Kuyt. Even with all the criticism he never hid, always chased the ball and worked his socks off. A lot of lesser men would have folded. I like the fact that he does actually try and attack, even if his pace is lacking.

Mourinho created a Chelsea side that was a genuine threat in both Europe and the Premier League. He had his formation and his first 11 and he stuck to them as often as possible. In the majority of years Ferguson and Wenger tinkered with their Premier League tactics for European games and both came unstuck time & time again. Ferguson's Utd are at their best with a 4-4-2 but he seems to have flirted with odd 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formations with stuff like Giggs through the middle in recent years. Even in the Manchester derby with Nani on the right and Ronaldo in some sort of forward role Man Utd once again came unstuck when they deviated from normal. I like the idea of flexible formations and tactics but the vast majority of teams / squads cannot make the best of the apparent flexibility. Benitez strives for this concept but he just doesn't have the personnel.

As for Kuyt, kudos for all the effort but come on, he has no first touch / pace / technique. He's another striker that Rafa is using completely out of postion. You've got to love Dirk's committment but his limitations are there for all to see.

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As for Kuyt, kudos for all the effort but come on, he has no first touch / pace / technique. He's another striker that Rafa is using completely out of postion. You've got to love Dirk's committment but his limitations are there for all to see.

He is limited, I wouldn't attempt to argue with you there. But when the team was announced last night, a lot of people raised their eyebrows at him playing wide in a 4-2-3-1 and he turned in a good performance. OK, he's not going to beat people with pace or flair but he was playing against two quality full-backs last night and he did very well. He used a bit of trickery as and when it was required, he linked the play well and he kept hold of the ball allowing the full-backs to over-lap and get involved. Whenever he lost the ball he tracked back straightaway, winning it back immediately a couple of times and his running off the ball created some much needed space in a game where it was a precious commodity. He provided balance on both flanks. I was very pleased with his contribution before he scored the goal.

He's not really playing out of position either. As I've said many times before he has played wide in a 4-3-3 plenty of times at international level and club level before he arrived here and since. I'm not saying that because of one good performance we can count on him to play like that in the league each week or anything. And I do wish Rafa would just stick to this formation and get the team used to playing this way, rather than changing from this to a proper 4-3-3 with three strikers, to 4-4-2, and back to this. Some continuity in the system would be nice to see.

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Kuyt did do well against full backs that were sitting back. He did have a good game.

However he doesnt have the genuine pace to really threaten most/many a team. You see him try to run past someone and he just can't do it.

Plus surely it comes back to - he was bought as a striker, correct? Sure he's got 3 in 6 games now (caption ahoy), but he missed a few chances in the Barnsely game from what I recall. He scored one, but should have bagged a couple at least.

I feel he's a good squad player but perhaps somewhat inconsistent? Babel is a better prospect, but he's not the finished article just yet. Kuyt effectively is, and you can't see him getting massively better.

Mascherano was outstanding, as mentioned. Although I thought of sissoko when he ran back brilliantly to win the ball, then passed it out of play :)

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Kuyt did do well against full backs that were sitting back. He did have a good game.

However he doesnt have the genuine pace to really threaten most/many a team. You see him try to run past someone and he just can't do it.

Plus surely it comes back to - he was bought as a striker, correct? Sure he's got 3 in 6 games now (caption ahoy), but he missed a few chances in the Barnsely game from what I recall. He scored one, but should have bagged a couple at least.

I feel he's a good squad player but perhaps somewhat inconsistent? Babel is a better prospect, but he's not the finished article just yet. Kuyt effectively is, and you can't see him getting massively better.

Oh yeah, I'm not saying we can count on him from this point on or anything. Personally, I think he'd be useful to have in the squad as he's versatile and works like no other but I'd ideally like to see somebody with skill, pace and creativity brought in to play wide in that system. As I've been saying for the last three years! :) Pandev or Palacio please, Rafa!

Mascherano was outstanding, as mentioned. Although I thought of sissoko when he ran back brilliantly to win the ball, then passed it out of play :)

Convinced by him yet? I can't think of a better player in his position at the moment, and that's high praise when one considers the team's struggles this season. It's bad news for Xabi, though.

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He is limited, I wouldn't attempt to argue with you there. But when the team was announced last night, a lot of people raised their eyebrows at him playing wide in a 4-2-3-1 and he turned in a good performance. OK, he's not going to beat people with pace or flair but he was playing against two quality full-backs last night and he did very well. He used a bit of trickery as and when it was required, he linked the play well and he kept hold of the ball allowing the full-backs to over-lap and get involved. Whenever he lost the ball he tracked back straightaway, winning it back immediately a couple of times and his running off the ball created some much needed space in a game where it was a precious commodity. He provided balance on both flanks. I was very pleased with his contribution before he scored the goal.

He's not really playing out of position either. As I've said many times before he has played wide in a 4-3-3 plenty of times at international level and club level before he arrived here and since. I'm not saying that because of one good performance we can count on him to play like that in the league each week or anything. And I do wish Rafa would just stick to this formation and get the team used to playing this way, rather than changing from this to a proper 4-3-3 with three strikers, to 4-4-2, and back to this. Some continuity in the system would be nice to see.

Would I not be correct in saying Kuyt played as the central player in a front three at Feyenoord? He was the striker rather than the Kalou like position he has had to take up with us. I've saw him play in the wider positions for Holland and he failed to impress even then (before he signed for Liverpool).

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Kuyt effectively is, and you can't see him getting massively better.

He'll never get better but you'll see a far better Kuyt playing in his natural position as the forward furthest ahead of his team mates. That probably won't happen with Benitez at the helm.

To be fair Torres is thriving as an out and out striker rather than having to play from deeper as plenty expected him to do. Kuyt is hardly going to get the nod to play ahead of El Nino.

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Would I not be correct in saying Kuyt played as the central player in a front three at Feyenoord? He was the striker rather than the Kalou like position he has had to take up with us. I've saw him play in the wider positions for Holland and he failed to impress even then (before he signed for Liverpool).

He was predominantly used as the the point of attack for Feyenord. However, he played his fair share of games on the left and right of a three when injury or tactics dictated, which was more often than most seem to realise. He's also done it for us a fair few times this season and has probably been at his most productive when doing so. Whenever he has played at the point of our attack in this system this season, he has looked terrible.

As I said, as we've both said for a long time come to think of it: we need to buy a winger/wing forward that can provide the skill, pace and technique we currently lack in wide areas. A set-piece specialist wouldn't hurt either.

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:)

We had to break down a team that put literally everyone behind the ball for 90 minutes. Any team would have to be patient and wait for the break through against tactics like that. It seems to be Liverpool FC are damned no matter what we do. We've just beat the team leading Serie A by 11 points and the one that was won their league two seasons running. As for any bullshit about Serie A being weak just check out what league has made the most impact in the European Cup / Champions League over the past 20 years.

Oh, don't get me wrong - it's a great result.

But Liverpool never played like Liverpool. It was all too slow, and too left-to-right-back-to-left-again. Not trying to pass it through the midfield to break down the defense, like you usually do in Europe. There were a few short spells where you burst into life, but that was a team suffering from a severe lack of confidence. The crowd were even fairly flat in the second half.

Until the first goal went in, of course.

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Almost as bad as Aurelio's have been so far. That's been a real surprise to me, when he was at Valencia his delivery from set-pieces was brilliant. OK, he didn't play too many games but when he did he always impressed with his delivery. The worst thing is the way Gerrard is capable of striking a ball, you'd think if he practiced he could be brilliant at it.

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Oh, don't get me wrong - it's a great result.

But Liverpool never played like Liverpool. It was all too slow, and too left-to-right-back-to-left-again. Not trying to pass it through the midfield to break down the defense, like you usually do in Europe. There were a few short spells where you burst into life, but that was a team suffering from a severe lack of confidence. The crowd were even fairly flat in the second half.

Until the first goal went in, of course.

To be fair, they didn't have a midfield. It all blended into 'defence'. Our defensive line began in their half, fer Christ's sake!

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Oh, don't get me wrong - it's a great result.

But Liverpool never played like Liverpool. It was all too slow, and too left-to-right-back-to-left-again. Not trying to pass it through the midfield to break down the defense, like you usually do in Europe. There were a few short spells where you burst into life, but that was a team suffering from a severe lack of confidence. The crowd were even fairly flat in the second half.

Until the first goal went in, of course.

There was hardly any space, though. We had to pull it wide and back again to probe for openings. Inter are no mugs and were very organized, and were defending very solidly until Cordoba got injured.

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Gerrard's set pieces are awful aren't they? His endless near post corners defy belief. You would have thought he would have learned to alternate sometimes.

Yeah, well I was saying this years ago. He had 2 freekicks which were woeful. That Danny Murphy could take a freekick :)

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