Benitez needs to strike a balance

Click to follow
The Independent Football

As Tottenham's players, supporters and much put-upon coach seek inspiration at Liverpool today, they need look no further than the Marseille side that arrived in equally unpromising circumstances in midweek, only to leave as thoroughly deserved victors.

Spurs have one win from eight League games, compared to one in nine for the French club, who dispensed with their manager as opposed to merely sounding out the next one. Fans at the Anfield Road end keen to make clear where their sympathies lie in the stand-off between Daniel Levy's board and Martin Jol may use the placards discarded by French fans that read "Dirigeants Dehors" (Directors Out) and exhort Spurs to emulate Marseille's tactic: attack, attack, attack.

Jol, whose job, bizarrely, appears to depend on not losing at the very least, will need to pick the right team. Rafa Benitez failed to do so in midweek. He needs to decide on Liverpool's most effective pairing from his four strikers and – since two arrived only in the summer – allow them time together on the pitch. Fernando Torres' hat-trick alongside Peter Crouch in a Carling Cup tie earned the pair a start against Marseille but they proved more obdurate than Reading's reserves.

Jol has been just as insistent that European duties require four proven strikers, but the difference is that he has quickly established a pecking order: Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane, understudied like for like by Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe. Keane is also happy to drop into midfield if Defoe is required in circumstances like trailing 4-1 at home to Aston Villa. He had an immediate impact in the recovery to 4-4. In contrast, Andriy Voronin looked a fish out of water when stuck out wide against Marseille.

Three years ago, ironically, Jol wanted to sign his countryman Dirk Kuyt, a substitute for the ineffective Crouch on Wednesday. "He's had a few problems this season but he's shown in the last few seasons that he's a quality trainer," said Kuyt. "They've got really good strikers and we have as well." Whatever the table suggests, the suspicion is that Tottenham (scorers of only one goal fewer than Liverpool) are employing theirs rather better.