The 16th substitution of Robbie Keane's Liverpool career on Sunday against Arsenal told you that, even in his absence, Rafael Benitez was not about to allow the striker to get carried away. At least this time, Keane could walk off the pitch with a goal to show for his trouble and it is his wish that he is judged at the end of the season rather than on the modest three league goals he has scored thus far.
After a week in which Mark Lawrenson spilt the beans on Steven Gerrard's belief that Keane could leave in January, the goal against Arsenal came just in time for the Irish striker. "It's not really been a frustrating time for me," Keane said. "Other people outside the club have said a few things to create something that's not there, which is a bit disappointing.
"But in the club, with the fans and everything, nobody is really frustrated. I know I will score a lot of goals for this club. It was nice to score against Arsenal and there will be a lot more to come. I'd prefer to be judged at the end of the season."
They are brave words for a man who, like many Liverpool strikers under Rafael Benitez, has come to learn that a reputation as a goalscorer does not ensure you will be played in your optimum position or that you will play there for the full 90 minutes. Keane was replaced by Nabil El Zhar on Sunday, and there is nothing wrong with his fitness.
Jamie Carragher was still an Everton fan when Liverpool last won the league in 1991 and he said after the draw against Arsenal that there was no mystery as to what would make Liverpool successful. "It is nothing to do with the mental aspect," Carragher said. "The best teams win. Other teams have just been better than us. There is no secret ingredient, it is just the best team which wins the league and hopefully that will be us.
"People keep talking about us being top of the league but we are not a small club, we are actually Liverpool Football Club. We are where we should be so it's no big deal, getting carried away. We are where we should be. A lot of the supporters probably have not seen us win the title, especially the young ones, because it has been that long. They grew up on stories from their fathers and grandfathers."
Carragher said that this season, the title race had been made more interesting by the failure of any side to pull away at the top. "The last few years teams have been winning the league with over 90 points which makes them look a great side," he said. "But I think it doesn't say a lot of the league to be honest. It's a lot more competitive when teams take points off each other, it creates a better league and I think we have seen that this season.
"In the past maybe three or four seasons – Arsenal going unbeaten all season, Chelsea only losing one and always getting over 90 points – I think you want the league to be more competitive than that and I think it looks like it will be this season."Reuse content