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Nightmare in the Kop end

Reds fan Mike Chapple wonders when his team will be put out of their misery

Published on June 9th 2010.

Nightmare in the Kop end

THE current Reds' crisis is worse than having a sick parent in hospital (do I hear tittering from the bluenoses at the back of the class?).

Is the patient dying?

Now that the chief surgeon Benitez has moved on to one of the top clubs in the world, will his replacement be able to resuscitate and afford a steady recovery? Given the differing diagnoses being delivered by the pundits, I'm buggered if I know, as Doctor Finlay might have said.

What I do know is that the past few weeks have been a nightmare. The prospect of a joyous extended season of World Cup footie, surrounded by drained empty beer cans in front of the telly has been stomped on with the current cloud of uncertainty hanging over Anfield.

At dawn the first thing after a fitful sleep is to check what the current condition of the patient is. One improvement is that, finally, Benny has gone. I loved the bloke, really I did, but no longer in Rafa did I trust.

No mistake, he took us to some unforgettable victories. To put this in context, I remember landing at Manchester Airport after Istanbul and the cabbie jumping around like a raving jackanapes declaring: "I'm a United fan and I hate Scousers but in that match you were f***ing brilliant."

And that was down to Rafa with other memorable cup wins to rub it in.

How good can that be? The quality of his CV for these and other achievements is monumental. But it was the meat and potatoes stuff he got so radically wrong, in the drab, mundane fixtures in our Holy Grail, the Premiership, which even as we speak is slipping even further from our grasp and into an alternative universe.

This was especially prevalent last season with defeats at the hands of the likes of Portsmouth and Wigan where he got it so horribly, perversely to cock, defending deep against teams that were there to be battered, with injuries no excuse for some woeful selections.

But, of course, the writing was on the wall a long time before then. Memories stray back to a painful night in May 2007.

A packed Exchange Bar in Old Hall Street was when I first discovered that Benny had almost laughably left a proven match-winner, Crouch, on the bench and put Zenden up front. Even then, before the kick-off, I knew we'd lost (and, in a separate issue, I'd already mentally filed my own transfer request on one of those occasional cursed episodes of life.)

So it's goodbye Rafa, who, like his predecessor Houllier, seemed to stray onto the pitch of paranoia and questionable signings in the final 18 months of tenure.

But like with Houllier we all, I think, wish you and your family (who sadly seemed to have settled on Merseyside) well. The lad, mostly, done good.

But what of the patient's overall recovery? If some more gloating commentators were to be beilieved, the Reds are heading for the mortuary.

Thankfully, more balanced and pragmatic views this week have been voiced by knowledgeable Reds in the national Press such as Readie in the Mirror and Bascoe on the Screws. And the shrewd views of Steve Kelly on the Through the Wind and Rain website. (www.ttwar.net) are worth a scan too.

All of which has afforded some comfort at least in knowing that plenty of people care and are as worried about an ailing relative as I am.

There is one piece of drastic surgery that would, no doubt we would all agree, help put us back on that road to recovery - the emergency tracheotomy of what is Hicks and Gillette whose debts have strangled the club.

But that - despite Rafa's departure and imminent arrival of his replacement - plus a couple of lethal injections elsewhere - doesn't look like being any short term fix.

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