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will we see a more attacking liverpool next season?


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I've often thought this league has a bias for winning, that is over 2 games it's better to win one and lose one rather than draw both. I was thinking about this and Rafa's famed "play not to lose" style when I came across this article. I got to wondering, does Rafa now have enough confidence in his team to go for the jugular from the start of next season ?


Rafa Benitez should have gone for broke earlier


Matt Hughes


Rafael Benitez could be forgiven for feeling despondent this morning as the reality that a season which promised so much is likely to end without a single trophy slowly sets in, but he must resist the temptation to wallow in self pity. There is a real danger that such understandable dejection could give birth to far greater problems.


Liverpool have been re-born as the great entertainers in the last week, sharing two thrilling 4-4 draws in the space of eight days that effectively ended their interest in the Champions League and the Premier League, but it does not follow that their failure was due to the inherent flaws in their new expansive style. On the contrary, it is possible to mount a reasonably convincing case that Liverpool’s change of style was a case of too little, too late.


While it may have felt like it at Anfield on Tuesday night, Liverpool have not lost out in the title race because of Andrey Arshavin’s remarkable demonstration of the goalscorer’s art, or their own desperate ambition to nullify the Russian’s breathtaking contributions. When Benitez looks back over the season in forensic detail in a couple of months the Spaniard will surely conclude that it was his side’s failure to beat lesser sides at home throughout the campaign that cost them dear, most specifically the goalless draws against Stoke City, Fulham and West Ham United. If he is honest with himself Benitez will accept that he should have gone for broke earlier.


The biggest swing in the Premier League title race occurred after Manchester United returned from Tokyo as World Club Cup winners in the middle of Decemeber, but the champions were only allowed to storm back to the top of the table because Liverpool carelessly left the door ajar. In the space of three weeks from 22 November Liverpool drew three successive home matches against teams that any championship-winning side should have been capable of dispatching, Fulham, West Ham and Hull City. Even if they had converted just one of those draws into a win then the title race would still be alive.


Similarly in the Champions League, Liverpool were eliminated because of their reckless attacking play, but paid the price for their earlier caution. Despite their incredible fight-back at Stamford Bridge the tie was really decided at Anfield the previous week, when after equalising to bring the score back to 1-1 Chelsea had the confidence to push on in search of further goals. Benitez was surprised by such a show of impudence and unable to respond, only going for it when he had little option six days later.


Given such disappointments Benitez will be tempted to revert to type when he plans another assault on the championship next season, but falling back on his old conservatism would be a huge mistake. The history of the Premier League shows that it is generally won by a team playing adventurous attacking football, which is why United have an 11th title in their sights. As for the other winners, Arsenal’s swashbuckling style is well known, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea may have been functional but the manager was never less than bold, while Blackburn Rovers possessed the briefly devastating strike partnership of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton even if Kenny Dalglish’s side is remembered with little fondness.


Dalglish could do worse than remind Benitez of an old English saying if the Scot does return to Liverpool in an advisory capacity – he who dares wins.



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