Who’s looking for Benitez to be sacked now?
Rafa and his charges put in a display of true grit at Anfield on Sunday. As is so often the case when the Reds have their backs to the walls and the chips are down, they come out all guns blazing.
Sunday’s humbling of the reigning Champions should go down in the annals of Liverpool’s history as one of their greatest victories against their fiercest rivals.
In the week leading up to this game, there were question marks placed not only on Benitez’s managerial capabilities, but also on the quality of the players not being high enough to warrant Liverpool as genuine title contenders. The enormous pressure on Rafa and his entire squad made this massive clash a "must-win" match for the Reds.
And how he and his squad responded!
They treated their fans to a performance of passion, determination, power, confidence and above all, of desire. Liverpool Football club would be pushed into their worst run of form in 50 years by any team, and least of all by Manchester United.
From the spine-tingling rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” that thundered around Anfield, the words of which Rafa Benitez himself could be seen mouthing, to the flags and banners being waved by the those on the Kop, Anfield was at its imposing and intimidating best.
All doubts as to where the three points were heading come the final whistle should have been thrown aside there and then. Liverpool were not going to be beaten, not today, and for sure not by the men from Old Trafford.
With their talismanic captain watching from the stands, those eleven Reds on the field went about their business with a hunger and desire that far out weighed any want displayed by the visitors.
Despite being the Premier League’s leading marksman so far this season, many would support the notion that it is Yossi Benayoun, not Fernando Torres, who has been Liverpool’s player of the season so far.
Once again, the Israeli captain gave a performance of creativity, flair and intelligence that surely now must make him a certain starter in Liverpool’s upcoming matches. And it was his sublime pass that put Torres in, to open the scoring.
Running onto a through ball, with a defender at his shoulder and the keeper to beat, is a position that the Liverpool forward relishes. Showing great strength to shrug away Ferdinand’s shoulder charge, Torres unleashed a venomous shot that Van de Sar could do nothing to stop.
Anfield went ballistic, as their hero wheeled away to celebrate another wonder goal. And amidst the mass hysteria that ensued, there was Rafa Benitez, coolness personified, taking it all in with no more than a cursory glance at his watch.
The Champions were already a beaten side, when Lucas, who had put in a very commendable performance, threaded a ball into space for David Ngog to run on to and place calmly past Van de Sar.
Anfield erupted for a second time and a sign of how much this meant to the players was summed up by Pepe Reina, who having sprinted the entire length of the pitch, was the first to jump on a surprised Ngog.
I would love to see a replay of the goal from an angle from which I could see at what point in the move Reina had begun his sprint. For if he was in his area, where he should have been, then we should rename him Pepe ‘Usain Bolt’ Reina!
For this memorable victory to be anything more than that, Rafa Benitez and Liverpool must use it as a spring board to re-ignite an otherwise disappointing start to the season. Liverpool must now move on to produce a significant run to re-establish themselves a genuine title contenders or this victory will be no more than a just a flash in the pan.