Saturday, February 16, 2008

Barnsley Shocks Liverpool in FA Cup

I don't think I need to explain to you what an upset this is, so I won't.

Liverpool should've won the game. It's that simple. They had more shots, more possession, more chances, more everything. But they only scored one goal and as I've said countless times, the only stat that matters in a team sport like soccer is goals scored.

Barnsley-2, Liverpool-1.

Oh, yeah. Time to get rid of Rafa yet? Someone has to be held accountable for a home loss to a mediocre Championship side in the FA Cup, particularly since Liverpool has been walking on a thin rope in this competition so far anyway. Yes, Liverpool could very well have been looking ahead to the showdown with Inter Milan on Tuesday in the Champions League, but it's the manager's job to prepare his players and get them focused on the game at hand, not the next game, or the one after that.

Not only that, but this competition likely represented the last chance that the Reds had at silverware this year; they’ve already been knocked out in the Carling Cup, have virtually no chance of winning the Premiership, and the Champions League is nothing more than a crapshoot based on who you draw, and Inter Milan will be daunting to say the least.

To me, when you get to this stage of a tournament, you have to go with your best players no matter who the opposition is. Not starting the captain, Steven Gerrard, and only bringing him on off the bench late in the game is inexcusable. Not starting Jose Reina, one of the two or three best goalkeepers in the league, is inexcusable. Not starting Javier Mascherano, a player who you alledgedly believe to be worth $34 million US, is inexcusable.

Sometimes you get what you deserve in soccer, and sometimes you don’t. Today Liverpool fell to a team they dominated in all aspects of the game other than goals scored. Is it fair? Maybe, maybe not. Is it life? Yes. If you don’t play your best players in a given game, you can lose. Someone needs to take the fall for this.

I believe it has to be Rafa.

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