Carragher quick to defend Liverpool's stuttering form

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Rafael Benitez regards his job as Liverpool manager as easier than being in charge at Valencia - simply because the Spaniard claims his grasp of English is not good enough to be able to read the criticism.

Rafael Benitez regards his job as Liverpool manager as easier than being in charge at Valencia - simply because the Spaniard claims his grasp of English is not good enough to be able to read the criticism.

It is an immunity not afforded to some of his players and the defender Jamie Carragher admitted yesterday that they had been surprised by the reaction to their three recent defeats, which included an FA Cup loss at Burnley and, in the Premiership, at Southampton. The first-half performance in the latter was described by the television commentator and former Liverpool central defender, Alan Hansen, as the worst he had seen in the 14 years since he left the club.

The defeats swiftly ended any honeymoon enjoyed by Benitez, and made the victory in Tuesday night's League Cup semi-final second leg against Watford all the more vital. It also gave Carragher the licence to hit back. "I've been in the side for eight years. I know the Southampton game was poor, but I tell you what, I've played in a lot of games like that and some which were even worse," he said in the wake of the unconvincing 2-0 aggregate victory over Watford, a side 17th in the Championship.

Carragher added: "We're fifth in the Premiership, which by Liverpool standards isn't good, but when other big clubs have bad times, I don't see them getting the same stick. Manchester United and Spurs got relegated in the Seventies didn't they? People should bear it in mind that no matter how great your past is, you can have bad periods in football. Sometimes, I don't know what people expect. The manager's only just arrived. I know we've been inconsistent in the League and I know the manager would like us to have more points. But he should be judged much later, not because of one bad week."

Few doubt both Benitez's credentials or his ability to cope. He has also been short of luck with the striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle the latest to be afflicted by injury. He will miss the rest of the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. However, a number of Benitez's signings have not worked, which has added to the scrutiny while Liverpool have also become ever more dependent on their captain, Steven Gerrard, who scored both goals in the semi-final. His body language, at times, has also betrayed a frustration.

The cup run has provided a significant financial boost - of around £1m - for cash-strapped Watford. Their manager, Ray Lewington, has insisted that the money means he will be able to turn down any bid for either his striker Heidur Helguson or the midfielder Brynjar Gunnarsson. However, Charlton Athletic may test their resolve with a £1m offer for Helguson before the transfer window closes. The Icelandic international has scored 16 times this season and would replace the striker Shaun Bartlett.

Comments