Benitez is bananas
More transparent madness from Rafa Benitez this week who declared that the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal are envious of him having won the Champions League in 2005 and that it is harder to win than any other trophy in football. With Liverpool 17 points from the top of the Premiership and without a league win since “Boxing Day” (whatever that is), the strain is beginning to show on the increasingly-desperate Spaniard. Many excuses have been made for Liverpool’s shortcomings by those supportive of Benitez. He hasn’t had the budget of the leading Premiership clubs and therefore has been forced to shop for mediocrity like Jermaine Pennant, Dirk Kuyt and Mark Gonzales.
It’s a valid point but Benitez must accept responsibility for choosing to stay and putting his ego in front of his reputation. I thought the same thing with regard to Martin Jol who stayed on at Spurs to the bitter end before coming out after his sacking to moan about not being able to run the club like he had wished. His words would have had a lot more credibility had he walked away from the job as soon as he realised that he could not do the job in the circumstances. But a massive pay off is a massive pay
Other Premiership games
Jonathan Woodgate lasted 90 minutes uninjured last night and by all accounts had a very good game against a decent Everton side. When Ledley King finally returns to fitness I see him and Woodgate forming a very solid partnership. Where this leaves the struggling Michael Dawson is anyone’s guess. 18 months ago he looked set to be a Spurs legend but now he’s more Gary Doherty than Gary Mabbutt. Everton continue to look solid and may actually challenge for fourth place again this season. I’m surprised as I thought Moyes was on the outs following a disappointing final few months last season.
Chelsea did enough to see off Reading but could have won by more than the 1-0 scoreline. With United dispatching of the free-falling Portsmouth 2-0 and Arsenal winning the night before it’s hard to see them making up the gap on the leaders. To think they looked invincible under Mourinho in his first two seasons.
Relegation is of course certain for Derby County who got a spirited draw with the predictably-tiring Manchester City. Sven has brought in some excellent players such as Elano and Vedran Corluka (probably destined for a big club move in the next 24 months) to play with Stephen Ireland, Richard Dunne and Joe Hart but elsewhere there is a lack of quality. Darrius Vassell is a likeable but limited player and I fear Martin Petrov is not all he’s cracked up to be. I’m not disappointed that Spurs missed out on him.
Final day of the transfer window this season and there are rumoured deals all over the place, although little involving the big clubs likely. Aston Villa are raiding Spurs for two more players to join Wayne Routledge who Martin O’Neill captured yesterday. Kevin Prince-Boateng has done little to impress in his first six months and a £3.5m fee has been mooted. Meanwhile Pascal Chimbonda is a target too after Spurs made moves for every right-back in the country to replace the former Wigan player. Chimbonda only has himself to blame. He became disillusioned after a move to Chelsea didn’t materialise in the summer. Since then he engineered a pay rise and reportedly laughed when asked to play at center back by Juande Ramos. His attitude and erratic performances have left the club unimpressed and a £6-7m fee for an undeniably quality player would certainly offset the ludicrous £8m fee paid to Rangers for his replacement, Alan Hutton. Whom I’ve never heard of by the way.
There are rumours all over the place which are always good for a laugh on deadline day. Riquelme to Everton? Carroll to Derby? Gutierrez to Portsmouth? Asprilla to Newcastle? Portsmouth are looking for Jermaine Defoe but I can’t see it happening. Newcastle also desperately need players considering how bad the ones they have are but Giles Barnes will not be going to the north east according to Derby manager Paul Jewell. And this is a bit tragic. Like there are not enough moderate Irish players at Sunderland already, Roy Keane reckons that Andy Reid’s ample frame would be a good fit at The Stadium of Light.