Worrying Times For Rafa Benitez and Liverpool

Niall OwensContributor IOctober 18, 2009

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17:  Liverpool manager Rafel Benitez during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and  Liverpool at the Stadium of Light on October 17, 2009 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Rafael Benitez and Liverpool FC face a huge week in their season which may lead to end of the Benitez era at Anfield.

If you ignore Portsmouth’s downfall, Liverpool has made the most alarming drop in level in the first few months of the season. Yesterday’s goal by Bent showed that when you’re down, nothing goes right for you but there is no doubt Liverpool is seriously lacking.

Three defeats in a row, no goals in either, a serious lack of bite in the midfield and a shaky defense have seen Liverpool’s title aspirations all but die by early October.

Except for Xabi Alonso, this is the same team that went to Old Trafford and won 4-1 seven months ago and pushed the defending champions all the way to the title. Alvaro Arbeloa has left and in came Glenn Johnson, who despite his impressive home form, cannot cut it away from Anfield. Aquillani is still a good few weeks away from recovery and Lucas Leiva looks woefully short of the class required to power a midfield to a title assault.

It doesn’t get any easier, Lyon on Tuesday night is a must win game on match day three in the champions league. After defeat in Fiorentina a fortnight ago, followed by the visit of the champions to Anfield on Sunday, and then Arsenal at the Emirates in the Carling Cup fourth round.

Liverpool, in 10 days time, could find themselves potentially out of three competitions before the dark winter nights settle in.

First of all, Lyon is must win the game on Tuesday. We all know teams can afford a defeat in the group stage and progress, but anything but a win at Anfield will see the reds face two away games back-to-back versus Lyon and Debrecen.

And then a little matter of Manchester United at Anfield with a certain Ryan Giggs on 99 premier league goals waiting in the wings to kill Liverpool. Already for the title, it always works out that way doesn’t it? The United legend scoring the winner in front of the kop?

Rafael Benitez’s job is on the line and with Kenny Dalglish working at the club now the Liverpool boardroom must realise that they have a readymade replacement for at least the remainder of the season.

Another season without a trophy will see the red fans lose their patience with the Spaniard who brought them the Champions League and FA Cup in his first two seasons.

There are enough teams in the league to take advantage of Liverpool’s poor form at the moment in the shape of Manchester City, Aston Villa, Tottenham and Everton. The next few days is a test of Benitez’s managerial and motivation skills of he will be the first big casualty of the 2009-10 season.