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How to win a league title

How to win a league title

Aug 8 2007

Red Watch

by Andy Proudfoot, Liverpool Daily Post

Rafa Benitez

RIGHT, heads up Rafa – here it is, the Red Watch Guide to Winning the Premiership (or at least mounting a credible challenge). Or, the nine things you must do to improve on last season.

1. Get off to a good start

It’s no secret that we’ve blown our chances in each of the last two seasons by being left on the starting blocks by indifferent early season form.

Bill Shankly once famously called the league “a marathon not a sprint.” Now it’s a marathon of sprints. You can’t ease your way into a season any more. So…

2. Limit the rotation

Rafa’s won the long-term argument, but the new players need to settle and get used to the system(s). Too much chopping and changing too early prevents momentum building up. So more Ferris Wheel, less Catherine Wheel.

3. Get more goals out of the midfield

Last season, seven league goals from Pennant, Alonso, Sissoko, Mascherano, Zenden and Gonzalez. Steven Gerrard can’t do it all. Or maybe he can, if we can only…

4. Settle Gerrard down Rafa’s already stated that Stevie will spend more time in the middle this season – Amen to that.

Just because he’s the best right-back, right-midfielder and support striker in the country doesn’t mean he has to play all those positions to accommodate other less worthy individuals.

We don’t need to play two holding midfielders against anybody other than the other members of the ‘Big Four’, so let’s pre-print ‘Gerrard + one’ in central midfield on the team sheets for the season.

5. Show some away form

Those of us who follow Liverpool around the country really suffered last season. Game after game dominated, but only the bottom four plus Spurs and Reading vanquished. Games can be won in the first half as well as the second, Rafa, so let’s set out our stall to be more adventurous, otherwise Setanta might sell more subscriptions than they thought…

6. Beat the Big Three

No problem at Anfield last season, with Chelsea and Arsenal humbled and United fortunate.

But away from home…(see above). A weakened Chelsea due at Anfield in 10 days gives an opportunity to tick off nos. one and six in this list; Henry is no longer around to torture us; and we’ve proved in the past that Old Trafford can be a scene of joy rather than despair.

As for Stamford Bridge, well I’m going to find something else to do on February 9.

7. Keep being linked with Left-Backs

By his own admission, it’s the only way we’re going to get some consistent performances from Riise.

If Ferguson won’t let Heinze play with those nasty kids from down the road, then perhaps we should commission Antony Gormley to place statues of left-footed figures blasting balls into the Kop around the ground to keep him on his toes.

8. Trust Peter Crouch Forget what the pundits say – Peter Crouch is not an ‘impact player’ or someone who allows you to ‘try something different’ from the bench.

Every single one of his 18 goals last season came in games where he started the match.

Maybe that explains why Rafa left him on the bench so long in Athens – but not why he put him there in the first place. Torres and Voronin may offer more options now, but ‘the 6ft 7 in’ Crouch has delivered when shown the trust of the manager.

Despite the new arrivals, he shouldn’t be limited to Carling Cup matches and desperate substitute appearances.

9. Lose the goatee

Well I can’t remember the Premiership being won by a similarly hirsute manager, though I suppose Jose’s designer stubble is close. Can we win the Premiership? Not with that hair on your chinny chin chin Rafa.

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