Why Fernando Torres is being
frozen out at Liverpool FC
Comment by Mark Lawrenson - Liverpool Daily Post
I appreciate that Liverpool are keen to
shake off the image that they rely too heavily on Fernando
Torres Ė but that doesnít mean he should be frozen out
The Spanish striker has scored 10 in 10 in the Premier
League and has to be the most devastating finisher in the
world at the moment.
So when you have someone like that in your side you play to
his strengths and give him as many opportunities as possible
Ė chances are he will take them, as he proved against
Manchester United and Fulham in the last two games.
And that is why I was amazed to see Andriy Voronin paired
with him at Craven Cottage.
Torres thrives on the service from behind him so itís vital
that when Steven Gerrard is not in the side, the selection
is spot on and tailored to maximise the impact of the
Premier Leagueís top scorer.
In the first half, I made a point of watching Torres and
every time Liverpool had possession Ė whether it was
Mascherano, Lucas, Degen or Insua Ė he was constantly
looking to get into danger areas and his movement off the
ball was excellent.
Trouble was, he never received it.
And he must have been wondering what he was supposed to do
when heís thinking ahead but other players arenít on his
Yes, he scored one, but it wasnít enough on the day so ways
have to be found of rewarding the threat he poses with some
And I donít buy the argument that when Gerrard is out
Liverpool donít have anyone who can drop in behind the lone
striker and cause problems.
Has anyone seen Yossi Benayoun play recently?
He is the man who should be stepping in to the Gerrard role
Ė he has the vision, the intelligence, the touch, the skill,
the creativity to get the best out of Torres.
His pass against United a week earlier was the perfect
example of that.
I said last week that when Gerrard was fit, Benayounís best
position was on the right. But in the absence of the
skipper, thereís no way he should be pushed out to the left.
And while I have no problem with Torres being taken off at
Fulham given his issues getting back to full fitness, I
couldnít understand Benayoun being taken off.
Heís not someone that Rafael Benitez can afford to alienate
now, especially if Gerrard does have an operation and faces
a long spell on the sidelines.
Benayoun needs to be put in the middle instead of being
stuck out wide and waiting for the ball to be played out to
him, and told he is the main man to play off Torres.
To me, thatís just going back to basics.
While Mascherano and Lucas are both sitting in the midfield,
thereís never going to be enough invention coming from the
creative areas so Benayoun simply has to be up alongside a
main striker. Thatís where he can influence things.
It gives Torres the best chance of being allowed to play the
game he wants and that gives Liverpool the best chance of
And letís face it, tomorrow night at Lyon that is exactly
what they have to do.
And despite the current run, I truly believe they can. It
wouldnít be the first time Benitez has defied the pressure
surrounding him to pull off a masterstroke, particularly in
Going to Lyon is not like going to the Bernabeu or the Nou
Camp. Itís a nice ground with nothing intimidating about it.
And they have had better teams than this in the past Ė they
Despite the defensive problems currently plaguing Liverpool,
I still think they remain a disciplined outfit when they
have to be, they donít get cut up by teams.
And in most games they tend to have more of the ball then
So the players need to make the best use of it and that
means sticking Benayoun up there with Torres and going all
out for the three points that will keep the Champions League
As far as Iím concerned thatís not even a gamble.
And itís one of those nights when, if the team is set up
right, over-relying on Torres wonít be a bad thing.
Mark Lawrenson was talking to NICK SMITH
Whelan: Benitez has
given up title race
RT… - Soccer
Ronnie Whelan launched a sensational
attack on Rafael Benitez on RT… television last night,
suggesting that the Liverpool manager has already given up
on the Premier League title and that his days are numbered
Speaking on RT…'s Premier Soccer Saturday, Whelan was
reacting to his former club Liverpool's 3-1 defeat to
Asked by presenter Darragh Maloney what had gone wrong at
Craven Cottage, Whelan replied: 'It's all gone wrong with
the manager. He's shown exactly today where his priorities
The former Ireland midfielder went on to suggest that
Benitez is already thinking of his next job.
'He wants to win the European Cup. He wants to be the man
who wins the European Cup so he can get a job anywhere in
Europe. I think after winning the European Cup with
Liverpool he will get a job in Europe anyway but, for me,
now, his days have got to be numbered at Liverpool.'
Whelan reckoned that the team selected by Benitez to face
Fulham on Saturday was not strong enough to get a result at
Craven Cottage and that he could not understand the Spanish
'Why after such a great result against Manchester United, do
you want to take a huge step backwards after losing to
Arsenal in the Carling Cup as well? I don't see where he's
coming from now.
'He showed me today that he wants to win the Champions
League and that's all he cares about - because of the team
he picked today.'
Maloney then asked if Whelan believed that Benitez had given
up on the title race already.
'When I saw the team I thought that straight away. He's not
really bothered now. And I can't see why he's done it.
'He's taken players off who are the only players who are
going to give you a chance of winning the game. And he drags
them all off because he's got a game on Wednesday.'
Whelan also condemned Benitez for prioritising European
success over domestic results, especially given Liverpool's
precarious grip on staying in the Champions League.
'He's putting all his eggs in one basket. If he loses in
Lyon, he probably won't qualify for the Champions League for
the knockout stages. So, he's out of the Champions League;
he's not going to win the Premiership anyway - so he's
messed up completely.'
Liverpool travel to Lyon on Wednesday for a vital Champions
League tie knowing that anything less than a win would make
qualification for the knock-out stages unlikely.
Hodgson 'preaching modesty'
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is 'preaching
modesty and humility' following Saturday's victory over
Liverpool at Craven Cottage.
Erik Nevland and Clint Dempsey secured the win for the
Cottagers after Bobby Zamora's opener had been cancelled out
by Fernando Torres.
Liverpool's demise on the banks of The Thames has grabbed
the headlines, with the Reds suffering their sixth defeat in
seven games in all competitions.
Hodgson, though, does not want Fulham to get carried away
with the success over one of the perceived heavyweights in
the Premier League.
He said: "We still have got a lot of work to do. I am
preaching modesty and humility.
"To be in the Premier League and to be playing Liverpool and
Manchester United and Chelsea is a wonderful achievement for
"It is important to keep our feet on the ground and we will
have to because this year European competition is a huge
stretch on our resources."
Liverpool, who had Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher sent
off in the closing stages, dominated possession and Hodgson
confesses that he feared for his side's chances.
However, Fulham survived and have now found some consistency
following a run of games without defeat, much to their
Hodgson said: "We had to work hard to keep them at bay. They
had more possession than us and at one stage I couldn't see
us holding out.
"But we got closer to them in the second half. We started to
create chances and took some of them. We're getting better
as a team."
Asked if he had offered any sympathy to opposite number Rafa
Benitez, who is under intense pressure ahead of a UEFA
Champions League trip to Lyon, Hodgson said: "I would regard
that as patronage. I just wished him luck for Wednesday."
Rafa explains Fernando decision
By Steve Hunter at Craven Cottage - LFC Official Website
Rafa Benitez defended his decision to
substitute Fernando Torres in the second half of the 3-1
defeat to Fulham and claimed he was protecting his star
El Nino scored a brilliant equaliser on the stroke of
half-time but was replaced after 63 minutes with the scores
level at 1-1.
"We decided to play Fernando against United which was a
difficult decision because he wasn't 100 per cent fit," the
boss told his post-match press conference.
"After this game he needed four days to be ready again but
he still isn't 100 per cent fit, so we had to decide if he
could start today or use him for part of the second half. We
decided to start with him but I have to protect the player.
"We decided to take him off just after the hour because I
want to protect him and don't want to lose an important
player like Fernando for one month. We had options in attack
when he came off."
Reflecting on the loss at Craven Cottage, Benitez said:
"Always it's hard to take any defeat but especially this one
because we were in control of the game.
"I was really surprised because the first half was a one
sided game. We made one mistake when we conceded a goal but
after Fernando scored we were in control.
"I don't know the percentage of possession we had but it was
unbelievable to concede in the first half after controlling
"They were more offensive in the second half and we made a
massive mistake when we conceded the second goal. We then
had two players sent-off."
Meanwhile, the Reds boss revealed the club will make an
appeal over the two red cards shown to Philipp Degen and
"For me, the first one with Degen was a yellow card, and
with the second one it was clear that Carra was kicking the
ball and not Zamora," he added. "I watched the replay and it
"We will try to appeal against both red cards because for me
it's very clear that Carra was kicking the ball and the
other one Degen was not kicking the player.
"It was difficult to take but it was a good response from
the nine players who worked hard, but always it's very
difficult to come back against 11 players.
"We now have a difficult game against Lyon. My concern now
is we have too many injuries and we have to analyse which
players will be available for Wednesday.
"All the managers want to win games and when you are not
winning you have to analyse why, and we are doing this.
"Everyone saw the game against United and you saw we have
confidence and we can do it.
"It's a question of taking your chances when you create them
and don't make massive mistakes like today and give a lift
to the other team.
"We have to be calm, keep working hard and find solutions."
Rafa's tactics torn to shreds
By Peter Fraser - Sky Sports
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is set to
face renewed speculation regarding the security of his job
after his much-changed side lost 3-1 against Fulham at
Fulham took the points as goals from Erik Nevland and Clint
Dempsey secured the win after Fernando Torres had cancelled
out Bobby Zamora's opener in the first half on the banks of
However, Benitez will receive the intense scrutiny after
deciding to substitute Torres as an injury precaution early
in the second half with the score at 1-1 before then
withdrawing the influential Yossi Benayoun after Liverpool
had again fallen behind.
To make matters worse for Liverpool, who have lost six of
their last seven games in all competitions and travel to
Lyon for a must-win UEFA Champions League game in midweek,
Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher were shown red cards in
the closing stages.
This was a match which only demonstrated that Torres - who
was a hero in last weekend's win over Manchester United, now
a blip in the form guide - cannot do it all by himself after
a number of his team-mates were missing through injury and
He cannot keep producing the only quality in a Liverpool
team which, without the injured Steven Gerrard and Glen
Johnson, looks bereft of ideas and creativity.
Next Wednesday Liverpool travel to Lyon for a match which
could see them effectively knocked out of the Champions
league in the group stages. After this result they might
just be out of the Premier League race, too.
The pressure is building on Benitez. And with the Reds
faithful once more booing his substitution of Benayoun the
steam is hissing all around him.
Bizarrely, it was a match in which Liverpool enjoyed the
majority of the possession. A match in which they pressed
forward with lots of effort, often against a wall of white
shirts. But a match in which for vast swathes they struggled
to supply the quality to go with their industry.
They must have wondered, however, quite how they found
themselves behind after 24 minutes.
Fulham had not had a single shot on Jose Reina's goal. They
had barely crossed the half-way line.
But shortly after Benayoun had produced an acrobatic volley
which rattled the Fulham crossbar the home side broke away.
The ball came to Damien Duff on the left and that trusty
left foot curled in a raking cross which cut the Liverpool
defence and allowed Zamora to tap home from close range.
The problem for Liverpool was that while they continued to
press forward they struggled to produce the high tempo and
urgency they had demonstrated against Manchester United last
And when the equaliser came they could hardly put it down to
rhythm and style. Instead it was fashioned out of nothing,
but by the predator supreme.
There appeared to be little danger for the Fulham defence
when the ball came to Andriy Voronin. His header was weak
and misdirected but it cannoned off a Fulham defender and
arced into the hitting zone of Torres.
He needed no more invitation. The Spaniard simply swivelled
and swung his right boot and a fabulous volley from the edge
of the box scorched past Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
It was Torres' 10th league goal of the season and only
demonstrated once more his value to Liverpool.
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson made a double substitution at
half-time, bringing on Zoltan Gera for Diomansy Kamara and
Nevland for Duff due to injury.
The Cottagers might have re-taken the lead on the hour mark
when Zamora fired over a cross and Gera swivelled and shot
but unfortunately for the home side straight at goalkeeper
They did take the lead, however, after 74 minutes and once
more it was against the run of play.
This time Paul Konchesky surged down the left-hand side and
Reina could only parry his cross. The ball was headed back
across goal by Gera and there was Nevland to slide the ball
into the net.
It got worse for Liverpool four minutes later when Swiss
defender Degen was sent off for a reckless lunge on Dempsey.
Incredibly three minutes later Liverpool were down to nine
men when Carragher brought down Zamora as the last man and
also, correctly, received a red card.
And to wrap up an afternoon to forget for Benitez, Dempsey
rolled in the third for Fulham as Liverpool disintegrated.