Nov 13 2007
by Ian Rush, Liverpool Echo
PLENTY of people have been ready to jump on Rafa Benitez’s back in recent weeks but against Fulham he got everything right and showed a few of his doubters who knows best.
Having seen his team hammer Besiktas by that record eight goals in the Champions League he was in a strange way under some pressure.
I’m pretty sure if they hadn’t won by such a margin the manager would have changed the side from the one that started against Fulham. But he perhaps felt it had to be a rare case of same again after a scoreline like that.
I’m not sure that deep down he really wanted to keep the same side, but in a way he proved a point because one or two people actually did start to tire.
But even though they left it late, I always thought Liverpool would win because they were playing at a high tempo.
I know some fans were starting to get anxious, but I always felt confident they would get the points.
Besides, good sides often leave it late – how many times have we seen Manchester United hit late goals, only for people to say they knew it was coming?
Whatever you think of Rafa’s rotations there is no doubt that he invariably knows just how and when to make the right substitutions.
Fernando Torres must have been like a coiled spring on the bench after being out for so long and when Benitez released him he came on and made a huge difference.
His goal just oozed pure class and Fulham boss Lawrie Sanchez was wrong when he said he thought he might have miss-hit it.
Not only did Torres pull the ball out of the air on his chest with sublime skill, he turned and saw Niemi positioned to expect a shot to his right. Torres had a look and very cleverly placed that ball as he did inside the near post, leaving Niemi flat- footed. It was a brilliant goal from a class act.
Fortunately, Torres will not be involved in the Spanish squad during this international break and that will be a big relief because it was while training with Spain that he picked up his original injury.
Liverpool have missed him badly but now he will have more time to recover.
Hopefully, by the time the Premiership games come round again, he’ll be raring and ready to go again.
I WATCHED the Fulham game in Malaysia where I was doing some TV work for ESPN Star Channel, which broadcasts the Premier League games around Asia. The passion for Liverpool in Malaysia itself is absolutely incredible - it appears that around 70 per cent of the population there are Liverpool supporters. It’s just another reminder why Liverpool are now so keen to finally tap into that support base commercially and embrace the Far East as much as possible. It could certainly be lucrative for them.