Why Benitez's revolution will take 18 months
By Mark Lawrenson - Daily Post
One thing was clear at Stamford Bridge - Liverpool
never really posed a consistent threat to trouble
There was enough evidence, and most Liverpool supporters
would agree, that several members of the squad are just
not up to the job.
And enough to know that it will take approximately 18
months before Rafael Benitez will be also to work with a
squad of players he is comfortable with.
I'm sorry if that sounds all doom and gloom, and I agree
there have been flashes of encouragement at Anfield, but
it is an honest assessment of where Liverpool find
themselves at the beginning of Benitez's reign.
Looking at the team at Stamford Bridge, only Jamie
Carragher, Sami Hyypia and Chris Kirkland were of
sufficient calibre as players to take the club forward.
Of the rest, the Spanish players are new and so are
largely exempt from criticism at this stage as they make
their way in England, while Djibril Cisse is in the same
boat - even though he continues to frustrate in his lone
By and large the other players failed to do anything to
convince me they are the right choices to drive the club
I'm not saying they are bad players, just that they are
not going to strengthen Liverpool to the level they want
to be at.
There is a world of difference between being a decent
Premiership performer and being a major player in the
At the head of that queue is Harry Kewell. You can say
what you want about him - about his talent or his
ability to run with the ball - but the simple fact is he
has never done it for Liverpool.
It is not like he has not had the time or the
opportunity to perform consistently, but for whatever
reason he remains an enigma.
I am sure Benitez will be working hard to figure out
just why a player who should be one of his major
creative forces has failed to create a shot or chance in
so many games.
Certainly the fact he has made so many changes shows he
is unhappy with the application of the players at his
disposal, as well as their sluggishness in adapting
their style to his preferred tactical plan.
To me the last three matches have just underlined to me
what a big job Benitez has on.
Undoubtedly he will want to make changes and bring in
new players, but to begin with he cannot do that until
January, and even then it is not clear how much money he
will have to spend.
With the new stadium on the horizon to swallow up plenty
of funding, that's why I believe it will be at least a
year and a half before we see real change at Liverpool.
So, what must the manager do in the meantime?
Firstly he has to hope his best goalkeeper can stay fit
and his best player can recover from injury as soon as
possible. Kirkland will be a great player for Liverpool
if he can stay on the pitch, while in Steven Gerrard, he
has the type of personality and player who would drive
the team on to better results than they are getting at
Secondly I also expect him to drop the split-striker
system away from home, where Luis Garcia is too
lightweight to make an impact. Playing Milan Baros and
Cisse up front would at least give opposition defenders
more to think about.
Finally I expect he will be working to try and improve
the levels of some of his squad to what the expectation
and history of the club demand they should be. For all
the players, just doing enough to get by at Liverpool
will no longer be tolerated.
Mark Lawrenson was talking to NEIL MACDONALD
Jose Mourinho admitted it was "very important"
Chelsea had taken all three points against Liverpool to
keep up the pressure on leaders Arsenal.
A solitary strike by substitute Joe Cole in the 63rd
minute saw Chelsea triumph although they had plenty more
chances to add to that tally.
Mourinho told Sky Sports: "It was very important.
Liverpool were very difficult and changed their team.
"They were much more aggressive than teams that have
come before. They were a difficult side for us."
Mourinho bemoaned the injury situation that had already
deprived him of Wayne Bridge, Adrian Mutu and Mateja
Kezman and the situation was exacerbated when Didier
Drogba limped off in the first half, to be replaced by
He said: "We were unlucky in some situations. We didn't
have many attacking solutions on the bench.
"But we kept our confidence and defensively did very
well but we scored the goal and got all three points."
Rafa: We have work to do
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez admitted he has a lot of
work to do with his side after the defeat to Chelsea.
The Reds slumped to their third successive away defeat
in The Premiership after the 1-0 defeat at Stamford
Benitez was unhappy with his side's attacking play as
they failed to really trouble Chelsea goalkeeper Petr
Cech throughout the game.
"If you don't score you need to defend for a lot of the
time and it's difficult," admitted Benitez.
"I have seen the team (play) better, the only thing is
when we got the ball sometimes we didn't keep enough of
the ball. We were stronger in other games.
"We only need to score one goal and after we will be
"We defended perhaps 25 or 30 set-pieces and we have
done very well. Only one time there was a mistake. Today
you have seen nothing special.
"Always you need to work hard, I don't know how much
time or how much work, but we need to work, for sure."
More away day woes for Reds
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Chelsea added to Liverpool's away day woes with a
hard-fought 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
Substitute Joe Cole's clever second half goal proved to
be enough to give Chelsea all three points to help them
close the gap on leaders Arsenal to two points and
inflict a third successive Premiership defeat away from
home on Liverpool.
Chelsea came racing out of the blocks and Jamie
Carragher got in a vital block to deny Damien Duff
getting a dangerous cross in, although in doing so he
caught team-mate Chris Kirkland who looked to have
picked up an injury, but the keeper was able to
The home side continued to call the tune early on with
Didier Drogba dragging a shot wide on five minutes
before setting up Frank Lampard inside the box only for
the midfielder to flash his shot wide of the target.
Chances were few and far between with the game becoming
embroiled in a midfield battle and both defences on top.
Liverpool captain Sami Hyypia had a sight of goal on 22
minutes when he rose unmarked at the back post to Xabi
Alonso's corner, but he could not direct his header on
Djibril Cisse had a half chance five minutes later when
he beat John Terry to Harry Kewell's cross only to send
his header well wide.
Drogba almost got through on goal on 28 minutes when he
beat Josemi to Lampard's through ball, but he ran too
wide allowing Kirkland to make a comfortable save.
Chelsea made an opening for Lampard on 34 minutes after
a nice interchange between Alexei Smertin and Eidur
Gudjohnsen, but the England midfielder failed to test
Kirkland in the Liverpool goal.
Cisse, who was ploughing a lone role in attack, was
unlucky with curling effort deflected just wide of the
post by Chelsea full back Paulo Ferreira.
Chelsea suffered a major blow on 38 minutes when Didier
Drogba was forced off with a stomach injury and had to
be replaced by Cole.
Lampard missed a great chance to break the deadlock four
minutes before the break when Ferreira got down the
right and sent over an inviting cross for the midfielder
who flashed his diving header well wide.
Cole was determined to make an impression in front of
the on-looking Sven Goran Eriksson and five minutes
after the restart he fired a shot into the side-netting.
Chelsea went close to opening the scoring on 57 minutes
when Cole fired in a shot from the edge of the area
which Kirkland palmed up into the air towards goal and
was grateful to Harry Kewell, who cleared the ball off
the line with his head.
The home side finally found a way through on 64 minutes
with Lampard deceived the Liverpool defence with a low
free kick into the box and Cole was on hand to
expertedly volley the ball past Kirkland.
Carragher denied Chelsea a second goal on 69 minutes
with a vital header under his own crossbar from the
waiting Cole after Duff had got through and sent a
dangerous delivery right across the six-yard box.
Djimi Traore made a crucial block six minutes from time
to deny Gudjohnsen a second goal after Geremi had
cleverly headed the ball down into the Icelandic's star
path six-yards out.
Gudjohnsen wasted a fine opening three minutes from time
to wrap up the match taking too long to take his shot
and then eventually blazing his left-footed wildly over
Chelsea almost got Liverpool on the break in the last
minute with Gudjohsen sending Cole clear on goal, but
Hyypia got in a crucial block to keep out the
Liverpool substitute Steve Finnan forced Petr Cech into
his first serious save of the match in stoppage time
with a drilled shot from the right which the Czech
keeper pushed out.