Resilient Rafa keeps wolves from door

LIE still and stay skewered, damn you. Don’t you just hate it when the sacrificial lamb gets up and blows a big fat raspberry in your leering face? It’s too late in the day for me to start acting the uberfan.

All that “supporter has the word ‘support’ in it” twaddle is so close to the Houllier knuckle I fear for the sanity of anyone who utters it.

But if you can’t enjoy the ability of Rafa Benitez to evade the wolves when they’re drowning in their own saliva then you’re dead inside.

A dull and troublingly narrow victory in Budapest served no purpose whatsoever. The inevitable was always going to prevail. There was a chance to give Aquilani some of that match fitness the manager bangs on about, especially at a time when the squad is depleted.

Despite all protests to the contrary it seems as though our Italian Stallion is being protected from the rigours of the Premier League already, making all whining about transfer funds – Rafa’s conduits have been extremely busy recently – all the more galling.

In times of crisis he often resorts to professing his love for Liverpool whilst issuing thinly veiled threats about the long line of clubs waiting for his patience to snap.

He keeps up this pretence that the choice is his alone to make. I’m not sure why he also recited the names of Real Madrid’s team from 1981, and his belief in a Redknapp family conspiracy to undermine him was troubling.

Yes Jamie Redknapp, the Tinkerbell of football ‘analysis’, now preys on the mind of one of the most important men in the game. The times really are a-changing, but at least there’s always someone worse off than yourself.

The poor Blues got the knock back from the government for a new stadium and will have to stay in the crumbling Loathe Shack for a good while longer. Unless they can con the council and the Yanks into helping them build the dreaded shared stadium. You have to admire their unerring ability to turn bad news into a colossal red irritant. Mind you, they have had nearly four decades of practice.

They were rather grandly “considering the option”, as if Liverpool’s own view was an irrelevance. “Call us a small club, would you?” etc. It’s only our own distrust of Hicks, Gillette and the unnervingly omnipresent Purslow that gave the story any credence whatsoever.

Moyes did his best to wind us up further, mumbling incoherently about owners from Mars and his hands being tied. Abraham Lincoln was wrong; you can fool all of The People all of the time.

Whatever we say about Aquilani, Rafa will be finished here if he turned out to be as bad as Fellaini. The very idea of Moyes outlasting Houllier and Benitez after achieving precisely squat would be a damning encapsulation of Blue ambitions.

In fairness they are also missing some important players and made contrasting light of their absence on Sunday. It was a poor game though, and no one really expected anything else. Mention the word Luck once more and it’s possible the Evertonians will burst into flame. Only the lack of a stand-out refereeing howler got us out of there in one piece, though the numbers in the stadium were almost even when the final whistle blew.

Everton’s video screens provided the real entertainment. “Half-season tickets – Share The Belief”. Punchline Central. When they weren’t pushing imaginary walls their away corner yahoos gave us grief about our support, as if their annual day out gave them special dispensation to lecture. They weren’t totally wide of the mark, but in our defence there was a lot of tension both on and off the pitch.

Far from settling things down Mascherano’s fluke sent us scuttling backwards and gave Everton no choice but to attack. Maybe the home fans were incredibly cheeky to shout “hoof!” throughout the game, but no reasonable Red could deny the chant’s validity. We got away with it. Once we had the confidence to play some actual football the gulf in class was obvious, but two goals sure helped.

Playing that way when the points aren’t secured would be the next logical step.

From small acorns and all that, but didn’t we say exactly that after United, as well as at various times over the last few seasons?


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