Last season we drew 7 games at home in the league, 13 in total. This season we have drawn 4 already at home and have also failed to score in 5 league games. That’s too many. Draws don’t win the league, three points does. We are top but we know that we are there (basically on the same points as we had last season) partly because United and Chelsea have not scored as many points as they normally would at this stage.
So with the best chance in years of making it 19 why are we not going for it? We finished the game on Saturday with a £20m striker on the bench. Why? Why in the last 10 minutes when we were running out of time and ideas, did Rafa not throw the dice and stick Keane on at the expense of a defender? Honestly, I don’t know but we have all heard Rafa say… “it’s important to win but more important not to lose”. Does therein lie the problem? Is it a cautiousness borne out of winning the league in Spain where more teams drew in the course of a season? If so then we have a problem because after four and a half years Rafa hasn't yet learned that to win the league in England you have to win the large majority of games. You don’t win it with draws.
We hate unfavourable comparisons with our 'friends' down the East Lancs but we all watch United attack with 7 or 8 players when they need a goal. They do it all the time and have done for years. They did it on Sunday against Chelsea, not when they needed a goal but when they were already one nil up. How many times have we seen Fergusson throw attackers on at the expense of defenders when they need a goal? At Stoke they finished the game with Tevez, Rooney, Ronaldo, Berbatov, Scholes and Giggs on the pitch, all of them goal scorers. We finished the game with Gerrard and Torres as our only real goal scoring threat.
So why don’t we go for it? Is it not worth risking the one point we have to get the maximum three? Even if it goes pear shaped two out of three times (which I doubt it would) we’d still end up with the same points so what really do we have to lose? Compared to the risk of getting the extra points to win the league it’s a risk worth taking in my view. How many times do we sit watching the game thinking (or singing) … attack… attack…attack, when we need a goal?
So are we letting number 19 slip through our fingers because Rafa can’t let his team of the leash? I fear we may be. Now I love the man. I think he’s a great manager and this isn’t having a pop at him or his tactics. He's doing a good job under difficult circumstances and I'd have settled for finishing 2nd close behind the leaders at the start of the season. But now we have a REAL chance to win it. I know having watched Liverpool sides since the early seventies that you need to go for teams at times to win games and to win leagues and I just don’t see us doing that enough, unless we are losing. We’ve done it when we absolutely have to. City away, two nil down at half time. Hull at home, two nil down, Boro at home, one nil down with 10 minutes to go, Wigan at home, twice behind. Istan bleeding bul !!!!!! So why don’t we do it when we are drawing? Because it’s important to win… but more important not to lose?
I’ve been predicting since the start of the season that we would win it this time and I still believe we will but increasingly now thats down to a stubborn belief rather than a confidence that we will get more points than anyone else.
So my hope is for Rafa to realise that he has the players to take teams apart and if he would only sometimes send them out not to beat teams but to batter them I actually think we would do it. Number 19 is within our grasp, we just have to have the courage to grab hold of it and make it ours.