Anonymous said:Don’t get me wrong; Voronin was no great shakes yesterday. He gave the ball away too often, under-hit Liverpool’s best chance, and did little attacking as a support striker. He is average plus mistakes. But Babel’s inconsistency squared.
I disagree about Babel. I'd much rather see him starting for Voronin rather than coming off the bench. Then bring in Aqua at the 70 min mark. Voronin just looks a half step slow in everything he does. At least Babel has the potential for moments of brilliance along with the mistakes. Voronin just gives you average plus mistakes.
Despite the Dutchman’s brilliant goal, I doubt he would have helped much from the start. The two opportunities after Babel’s strike do well to sum him up: the free kick blasted 12 yards in front of goal which went out for a throw on the far side, and the neat run into the box only to shoot six yards wide of the near post. One moment of brilliance, two moments of banging your head against the wall. That’s Ryan Babel, as harsh as that comes off.
Neither player is “good enough” to consistently win games for the team. Liverpool needs better first-team players to challenge for the title and Champions League. But as everyone acknowledges, last night was a very bad exception and Liverpool hasn’t been this stretched by injuries in years. Starting Voronin, where Liverpool could use his hold-up play and workrate, then bringing on the potentially game-changing Babel was the right move. As much as I wanted to see Aqua around the 70th as well, yesterday’s was an action-packed, crucial game still in the balance, which isn't the best time to give a player with 15 minutes under his belt a European debut.
Now, my main point. Babel as a sub. Let’s start with his goal return, which is 17 in 103 games so far.
46 starts with five goals, compared to 57 substitute appearances and 12 goals off the bench. For those keeping track at home, that’s an average of a goal every 9.2 games when starting and every 4.75 games when a sub. His scoring record is more than twice as good as a substitute.
And then there are the individual games. The games he scored when starting? 6-0 over Derby, 5-0 over Luton Town, 3-1 in a dead rubber over PSV, 3-1 over Bolton, and 5-1 over Newcastle. Every one was a rout.
The games he scored as a sub? Besiktas (x2), Newcastle, Bolton, Marseille, Arsenal (CL), Chelsea (CL), United, West Ham, Hull (x2), and Lyon. Again, most were routs; Babel only provided the winner in one of those matches – against United of all teams – unless we’re counting the penalty won in the CL against Arsenal. But it’s still a much better scoring record against better opposition.
Incidentally, the only match Liverpool lost when Babel scored was the Chelsea CL semi, where Liverpool lost 2-3 and Babel tallied a wicked long-range shot that Cech probably should’ve kept out in the 117th.
And when were the goals scored? Babel’s never scored between the 1-30th minutes, but scored 3 between 31-45, 2 between 46-60, 1 between 61-75, and 11 between 76-120 (the aforementioned Chelsea goal was the only extra-time strike). 12 of his 17 goals have come in the last third of the game! If that’s not a supersub, I don’t know what is.
Now, Voronin’s goal return doesn’t hold a candle to Babel’s, starting, off the bench, whatever. Six goals in 40 games, with all the goals coming in ’07-08. I don't have the assist numbers for any season but this one – Voronin has two assists to Babel's one – but I'd guess Voronin tallied slightly more per game in '07-08 as well. But yes, Voronin is a dissimilar and probably inferior player. The difference between an £11m player and a free transfer, I guess. But unlike Babel, we usually know what we’re getting: workrate, clever layoffs and flick-ons, and a couple of frustrating shots off target. Talents more suited to a starting second striker, especially in Benitez's system and when paired with Torres.
The key is that Voronin was brought in as a squad player, replacing Fowler, and probably would have been sold this summer were Benitez allowed to use the money on another striker. Babel was bought to be a game-changer, the third-highest transfer fee paid by Liverpool at the time. Three seasons into his Liverpool career, not enough games have been changed. Hopefully, yesterday marked a turning point.