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Liverpool Pay the Cost for Benitez Being Too Keane

On February 2nd 2009 there was a massive outcry in the media, from Liverpool fans and football fans in general at the return of one Robbie Keane to Spurs. This move was maybe not a surprise given the apparent unprofessional way that Rafa dealt with Keane. Benching him for key games even when Gerrard or Torres were injured and there was a position he could fulfill.

Even when playing him, he was typically placed up front on his own, a position that Keane is arguably not effective in, previously benefiting as a co-striker in behind the hole. The striker crisis is not a new problem for Liverpool, although this Keane move could arguably have cost Liverpool the title as Rafa shipped Keane out with no adequate replacement for an injured Torres.

This whole issue has been a problem for Liverpool ever since they solved the recent absence of a great striker with Fernando Torres. Since El Nino arrived at the club, Liverpool have been struggling to find him a partner. Perhaps playing Gerrard behind Torres, a partnership which has been so deadly, is the best way to go? Well, in that case it’s important to consider what happens when Gerrard is injured like he has been recently.

It is debatable that Keane would have been ready made for a Gerrard-esque role, although no one can say for sure as he was never given the chance. One possibility that has recently captured the eye of many is the recent form of Yossi Benayoun, the Israeli international has netted important goals for the reds recently alongside some talismanic performances; particularly those against Real Madrid away, Fulham away and at Anfield v Arsenal this past Tuesday.

Benayoun seems a highly underrated player as he was key for West Ham in his tenure there, earning him a move to Liverpool. Yossi is very effective when he comes off the bench, though he was even better on Tuesday when he started.

Maybe Benayoun could be cover for the Gerrard role in future and perhaps, as has been suggested by Barry Glendenning of the Guardian, Liverpool have been suffering due to the lack of playing time Benayoun has garnered this season. In the games which he has played he has been prolific, even chipping in with the occasional hat trick, such as the ones against Besiktas and Havant and Waterlooville last season respectively.

Though maybe this isn’t Liverpool’s key problem as Gerrard has been fit most of the season, most of their trouble this term has been with the fitness of Torres.

Perhaps with more appearances from Torres, Liverpool would have gained a few more points and not have been stuck with a collection of uninspiring draws. Particularly given that due to this, the deadly Torres and Gerrard combination has only played together twelve times this season.

In terms of prolific strikers, it could be argued that given his decent goalscoring record for Pompey and previously at Liverpool, they should have kept Crouch. He scored frequently when given the chance and performances such as his hat trick v Arsenal in the 06/07 season certainly back up this point (although Crouch only left due to not being guranteed first team football) Further it would appear Benitez never gave much of a go with a Torres and Crouch partnership, which may have clicked and been the best front two partnership at Anfield since the days of Owen and Heskey.

What is particularly baffling is why Rafa didn’t acquire adequate cover before selling off Keane. N’Gog is clearly too young and inexperienced to have stepped up to the plate in a title race, maybe Babel should be given more chances to prove himself a striker?

Andriy Voronin has been on good form on loan at Hertha Berlin, however he categorically ruled out any return to Liverpool. He has a better chance than the reds of acquiring a title this season (combined with first team football), so why return to them?

This may seem like a crazy shot, but sometimes moments of unexpected inspiration can prove a masterstroke. Why didn’t Rafa consider taking a chance and bring in Hernan Crespo on loan? Crespo is largely a reserve man at Inter Milan, now wanting to leave due to being snubbed by Mourinho. Why not bring him in as cover for Torres?a Sure he may not be a spring chicken, but with that comes years of experience, I would bet for him scoring rather than N’Gog anyday.

Though I understand maybe he doesn’t want to return to England, it is just a suggestion of what could have been done, I’m sure there’s other loan moves or frees Rafa could could have brought in as cover.

Of course this is all speculation from yours truly, but what is for sure is Liverpool maybe could have and should have done a bit better, in this season where they finally put up a decent title challenge.

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  1. ya

    April 30, 2009 at 3:05 am

    the whole keane afair was nonsense from almost every perspective. Personally, I like Keane and I do think that he is a good enough player to play in a top four club. But he is not suitable for liverpool, aresenal or man utd at the moment – probably not chelsea either. But that is simply because of his style of play and not because of his ability as a player.

    Furthermore, as much as I am a fan of Keane, I can’t dislike Benitez for treating him badly (although he definitely did). It was just an unfortunate situation that got him onto the team, and he was a victim of the problems at liverpool football club.

    Another interesting thing about the whole keane at liverpool story which no-one ever seems to dwell on is the sensitive nature of Benitez. Everybody saw how Benitez acted like an idiot last time Ferguson took a jab at him. It’s simple to see that Benitez has WAY TOO MUCH RESPECT FOR FERGUSON IF HE IS TO COMPETE WITH HIM. And do you remember when ferguson made the comment about how foolish Benitez was to spend 20m on Keane (when he had spent 30m on the lesser Berbatov). I wonder if this affected Benitez’ idea of Keane. Maybe he really was Benitez’ signing all along, and then he began to doubt himself on it because of Ferguson’s comments. On top of that, it’s not like ferguson to say a statement like that and mean it, he seems to be more about mind games. I would imagine that Ferguson rates Keane a lot higher than that.

  2. brn442

    April 25, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    The article is spot on… If Liverpool doesn’t win the title, you can blame the arrogance of Benitez. As good as Torres is, you can’t win a title with 1 half fit striker. It doesn’t matter that Liverpool has scored a bunch of goals lately, it doesn’t matter when you’re playing catch up. Considering the start Manchester had to the season, Liverpool should be ahead. You simply don’t bring in a striker the quality of Keane, not play him, and then ship him off in the transfer window, at a loss – WITHOUT BRINGING IN A REPLACEMENT, its inexcusable.

  3. chas

    April 25, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    it is a shame that the web spawns such cr*p as this ill infromed, and blinkered report.

    I hope that the writer doesn’t actually charge for article like this

  4. jamiesdad

    April 25, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I agree with replys that this article is flawed as Liverpool have actually done well without keane since he left. One thing is for sure though that regardless whether yo thought Robbie was good enough or fitted in the lad always give 100% running his backside off. Things just did not turn out so it’s now history but let’s not start having a go at the lad eh.

  5. JR

    April 25, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Yeah i totally agree with rusty, ive seen flashes of the young man and when he comes on he gets a good chance, he had an effort cleared off the line in champs league, scored against blackburn hes seems quite strong as well plus he doesnt have media hype around him/ a big price tag to live up too perfect situation to grow as a player

  6. rusty

    April 25, 2009 at 7:12 am

    The fall from grace of Keane opened the door for N’gog to get game time. I am excited by the short glimpses we have seen of this, recently, 20 year old forward. I believe that the lack of media hype surrounding his arrival has thankfully kept him off the media radar screens. From what I have seen he has excellent qualities and everything going for him. He is in a wonderful position to learn his trade, with help from one of the best forwards in the world today.

  7. Hansen is god

    April 24, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Keane got plenty of chances to show his worth to Liverpool. Unfortunately he didn’t deliver, missing numerous sitters. You say that Ngog isn’t ready, but his goalscoring record based on the amount of minutes played is probably superior to Keane’s for Liverpool. He has also shown a lot of improvement with each game he has played, at a fraction of the cost of Keane. Also, as mentioned by other posts, our goalscoring record has been fantastic since Keane left so I hope our supposed crisis over the last 3 months continues in the same freescoring way.

  8. Brian

    April 24, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    babel kuyt ngog benayoun torres!
    20 goals in 6 games in the league!
    s**t article

  9. Zahir

    April 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Liverpool did not buy Keene to give him match practice. We bought him because he was suppposed to be “premiership” ready compared to some foreign striker who would need time to settle. The number of points we lost because of the sitters he missed makes Rafa and the supporters aggreived parties, not Keene. If he was substituted a number of times after wasting 80 minutes on the pitch, he should be ashamed or embarassed about his performances not complaining about it. This article is typically silly bandwagen stuff!

  10. Sean Atkinson

    April 24, 2009 at 4:28 pm


    Darren Bent may have 11 goals (two less than Torres and Gerrard, who have both made less appearances than Darren Bent) but, he has only scored five since getting a brace against Manchester City on November 9th. Moreover, he would have cost at least £10 million in addition to a contract that has to cost at least somewhere in the neighborhood of £75 000 a week salary, since that is what Charlton offered him before turning them down for a move to Spurs. Do you really think he’s worth a punt at that price?

    Liverpool could just save that money for a striker of international level football quality.

  11. squirrel32

    April 24, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    1. Selling Keane might actually do LFC a great deal of good. Why? Tottenham are one of the teams who can inflict a defeat on Manu.

    2. Rafa did not sanction Keane’ deal. On the other hand Rafa wanted to offload as soon as possible in the January transfer window with Tottenham knocking at the door. The reason being Rafa was interested in bringing none other then Andrey Arshavin to LFC. As usually Mr Parry dragged on with the negotiations and Keane ended up being sold and Arshavin gone to Arsenal.
    Needless to say the aftertmath was the Rick will be resigning at the end of the season.

    3. Although many of us rated Keane on the other hand Keane never really delivered.

    4. I still wonder why we have never moved for an English well built striker in the January transfer window. It could have meant bagging the title before easter. Kenwyn Jones, Kevin Davies, Darren Bent (while he was being labelled worse than Harry’s grandmother – Darren has 11 goals to his name – 2 less than Torres or SG!

  12. tony

    April 24, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    defense wins titles. i thought chelsea and man u made that clear. you can only score once but if the other team can’t score…

  13. Solodee

    April 24, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Benayoun can adequately fill in for Gerrard. Torres can partner with Yossi

  14. kingfunk

    April 24, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Boering boering clueless boering

  15. Rafa The Gaffer

    April 24, 2009 at 4:02 pm


    Since Keane left our record in the league is won 7, drawn 2, lost one.

    Not too many draws in that is there, yet it is our draws that have cost us the title apparantly.

    Keane is a great player but was awful for us in every position he played, not just the one’s he didn’t like.

    I like Keane, but he proved he wasn’t Liverpool class (not just on the field eiher).

  16. Sean Atkinson

    April 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    1. Benitez did not play Keane because he did not rate him. As has been reported on many occasions (and was demonstrated by Keane leaving as fast as he came), Keane was thrust upon Benitez by Ricky Parry. In order for a manager to do his job, he has to be able to play who he wants, not who the chief executive wants because the chief executive is not the manager.

    Do I think they should have brought in another striker? Of course I do but, I can understand why they did not. Liverpool was a mess at the time, Benitez and Parry were going at it, as well as Gillette and Hicks. When your club’s front office is a mess, you cannot expect things to run in an efficient and logical manner.

    Hopefully, with Parry stepping down at the end of the season, and Benitez getting a bigger role in the transfer market, things will not be like that next season for Liverpool.

    2. With respect to playing Keane alone up top instead of his preferred withdrawn striker role, just who would play ahead of him outside of Fernando Torres who was injured for large chunks of the first half of the season? As you have stated, “N’Gog is clearly too young and inexperienced”. What other options did Liverpool have?

    Moreover, when Torres was available and they played Keane in that world pushing Gerrard into the midfield, it blunted Liverpool’s attack and took away from Liverpool’s most valuable asset, the understanding between Gerrard and Torres.

    3. As for Peter Crouch, one has to remember that in order to finance transfers, Liverpool often has to sell players first. In order to be able to afford the aforementioned Robbie Keane, as well as the fullbacks Liverpool need Andrea Dossena and Philipp Degen (granted he came on a free but, he still has to be paid a salary), Liverpool had to sell whatever assets they could (i.e. John Arne Riise £4m, Scott Carson £3.25m, Peter Crouch £11m, and Danny Guthrie).

    4. Andriy Voronin has ruled out a return to Anfield you say? Interesting because, he told Bild that he is coming back to Liverpool ( because Hertha Berlin cannot afford him. In his own words, “Liverpool offered Hertha a good price for me, and tried to meet them halfway, but they couldn’t do a deal as Hertha refused to budge.”

    That is besides the point though however, due to the fact that Voronin has always done reasonably well in the Bundesliga but has yet to tranfer his form to the EPL so I guess the jury is still out on him.

  17. Phil Kirwin

    April 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Last time I checked Liverpool had outscored all of the big 4.

    Problem with Keane was his attitude and do we know yet if Benitez sanctioned the move?

  18. browny

    April 24, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Ditto comment number 1.
    I was just about to slate this idiot for such a stupid article. Stevie hasnt been in the last 2 teams and Liverpool scored 4 each time.
    I tell you what..
    Liverpool are Sh#t. If they dont have Gerrard, Torres, Jossi, Masch, Alonso, Jamie, Reina.. and god… Imagine if the backup players like Agger, Babel etc.. were all injured… Liverpool could never cope! Maybe Rafa should buy another dozen players… just incase!
    People write stupid articles and Liverpool are the leading scorers in the league.
    What next… Dirk is rubbish and we need a winger who can score. oh… my mistake.. he has scored more than Tevez or Berbatov and they are £30m players to be tossed over by everyone else.
    I honestly think if Liverpool signed Messi and Ronaldo. The press and every fool who only reads the S#N, would then come out with the stupid comments like.. Liverpool are only a 4 man team

  19. Stevie G

    April 24, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    In case you didn’t notice Liverpool recently have not had a problem scoring! They have a problem defending.

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