02 February 2009

On Robbie Keane, for the last time

Over the last few weeks, I've made little secret of my belief that Robbie Keane wasn't going to work out. And Rafa displayed that renowned ruthless streak by shipping him out during the first window. But I want to make sure no one's thinking that I'm reveling in this news. Because, even though it strengthens the team by removing a major question (and seems to show that Liverpool will focus on the 4-2-3-1, which I believe is the right move), it weakens the team as well.

According to the BBC
, the deal is for £12m in cold, hard currency, potentially rising to some unstated figure due to those ubiquitous incentives clauses. That's at least £7m that Liverpool's losing (Keane's fee was originally £19m, rising to £20.3m, even though all the stories I've seen today only quote the higher figure) at a time when money's tighter than (pick your sexual innuendo). £7m for 7 goals and 5 months of service, not to mention the 25 or so weeks of wages. And because the transfer's happened so late in the window, it looks as if there was no time to buy a replacement, if Benitez was even allowed access to the funds. It turns out Spurs (or Liverpool) didn't fancy a player exchange – which is fine with me, as the only player I'd want from their squad is Pavlyuchenko.

Granted, if there are no major injuries (I can't knock on wood hard enough), the squad should be okay. Torres, Kuyt, Babel, and Ngog can all theoretically play up top, even as a lone striker. The Torres and Gerrard partnership, with Alonso and Mascherano holding, is and remains the most important part of this team. And Robbie Keane hindered that, even though he’s a Liverpool fan, gave it his all, and didn’t shirk from the spotlight.

Now, what I want to see is Benitez experiment with his "wingers" more. Specifically, I want to see Benayoun on the left or right in games like those earlier infuriating draws, where Liverpool needs creativity. Similar goes for Babel. Apologies for the 1984-style mantras, but 4-2-3-1 is the way forward. 4-2-3-1 is Liverpool's best chance for success. Now, use it in pretty much every game here on out, but vary the flanks according to the opposition.

Then, with help from other teams, Liverpool might actually make a season out of this.


Django said...

Fair enough, but I'm not sure why Keane could not have been a part of the winger experiment. Kuyt was pushed wide when it became clear that Torres up top was the way to go, and unless Keane explicitly stated that he wouldn't go wide, I don't understand Rafa's line of thought.

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

Maybe this was Rafa's plan all along? It seems unlikely but maybe he was using Keane solely as a replacement for Torres. Now that Torres is fit, no more use for Keane in Rafa's system.

And I really would love to see more Benayoun.

Bilal said...

that would make Rafa capable of telling the future... who knew Torres would be out so long or if he'll remain injury-free until the end of the season? Although I'm worried about cover, Babel might well find more success playing upfront in a Torres type role than perhaps his unsteady development on the wings.

I agree completely with Nate about the wing play, with more creative threat from the wingers, this side can have an attacking flair to match defensive stability. I'm wary of Benayoun starting every game, some games I would still prefer to see Kuyt start despite his recent awful form, not least the away Real Madrid game, but Benayoun could be crucial in unlocking defenses if used better.

nate said...

Because Keane's a different sort of player than Kuyt, even if that sounds simplistic or patronizing (I don't mean it to be either). Benitez is still a defensive-minded manager, and Kuyt's tracking back, tackling, work ethic, and stamina are far superior. Which is also why Kuyt plays more on the flanks.

Plus, while I know it was just one chance, Keane was pretty awful on the left against Villa earlier this season.

Django said...

Not patronizing at all, it makes sense, I guess more than anything I"m bothered by all the talk about Keane being benched and sold as some sort of statement. Not a fitting treatment for him, or for most players for that matter.

Mike Anton said...

If we had one more winger, this wouldn't be a problem. Bump Babel up to the top, replace with a winger, and the 4-2-3-1 formation (and arguably the most successful one) continues unhinged. Has Insua played up the pitch before? Does Pennant have a pulse?

nate said...

- I still think it's Rafa being ruthless - whether because Keane was unhappy or underperforming I don't know - rather than any sort of statement to Parry, the owners, or whomever. Even if Rafa didn't want to spend all his summer money on Keane, he had to have sanctioned the transfer or, knowing Rafa's tendencies, he would have resigned then and there.

- Pennant went to Pompey for a £1m (but somehow, it's still a loan) a couple of weeks ago.

- Also, hoping this leads to Pacheco at least making the bench a few times. Strange that Nemeth was loaned out but he wasn't (plus, he played with most of the first team in pre-season).

Django said...

Moving on from Keane, I am surprised there was little to no talk of Liverpool even trying to bring someone in at striker or otherwise. Was this a cash flow problem, or is Rafa that content with the side we've got?

Mike Georger said...

"Philipp Degen is expected to be out of action for the next four to five weeks after sustaining a metatarsal injury."


Bilal said...

Well... even though the Keane deal has probably in the works for at least a week, probably a lot more, I think it's probably better to make do with Babel and N'Gog as backup for Torres than to panic buy and then try and bed in a new player in the crucial next few months.

I'm hoping to see Babel up front for at least a few games, and I can't find any word on Insua's return, but hoping he should be back soon to give Aurelio a challenge for left back.

Anonymous said...

Just a risky move for me...Keane still holds his value 6 months from now. And at this point we rely on Torres for the PL, CL and FA Cup. Too much to ask for one player, too much to ask from one hamstring perhaps.

And if he goes down with an injury? LFC is totally hosed. We made no effort for a striker, even one on loan during the transfer window. Meanwhile, Arsharvin or however you spell it sells for 17 million pounds, almost what we got for Keane. Why not us?