Irish channel RTE’s football analysts are legendary: Former Arsenal player Liam Brady, Leeds legend Johnny Giles, and author and former footballer Eamon Dunphy. Put them all together and you have one of the best football shows on television. Why? Because they tell you how they really feel about topics.
For a glimpse of how they work together, you have to view this video (uncovered at the excellent 101greatgoals site) where they dissect Liverpool’s performance this week against Barcelona in the Champions League.
Dunphy is the chap on the far right. Brady in the middle, with Giles to his left — in addition to the genial presenter.
While their comments are stirring and thought-provoking, I have to totally disagree with them. If Liverpool had played an attacking style of play throughout the match, they would have lost by more than one goal to nil and they would be out of the tournament. Everyone knows that Barcelona is the more skillful and better attacking side, which is why Benitez resorted to the tactics that he did.
Liverpool put Barcelona on the defensive from the kick-off, and the Reds were so unlucky not to be 2-0 or 3-0 ahead by half-time. By the 55th minute, Liverpool’s gameplan fell apart as they gifted Barcelona more room in midfield allowing the Catalan side to link up play through the middle for the first time in the night.
Sure, we would have loved to see Liverpool continue to play great football like the world-class Anfield teams from the late 70’s and early 80’s, but this is a team that’s not close in skill or teamwork to those famous sides. And we would have preferred Liverpool to play better in the second half against Barca, but they completely ran out of steam against one of the best teams in the world.
If either Dunphy or Brady were managers of Liverpool, we would have seen an even more entertaining match at Anfield on Tuesday night, but the Reds would not be in the quarter-finals as they are now.
That said, I enjoyed the debate by the RTE analysts and will keep an eye out for more coverage from them in the near future.