The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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The Other Keane

Watching Liverpool play PSV last night, I was struck by how much Robbie Keane resembles Steven Gerrard on the pitch. That is, they naturally take positions behind the principal striker, pass well, and generally control play (if given the opportunity). The problem for Keane is that Gerrard is better. Beside possessing all of Keane’s skills, he can shoot from long range, and when required, take a game by the scruff of the neck and win it. Unless Gerrard is injured (heaven forbid), Robbie Keane has no place at Liverpool. He does not play well in the lone striker role (where Torres is so adept) and is not a natural winger. I wonder why Benítez bought him.

Because a number of the first team selections were out, it was possible to see how Benítez thinks. He tried N’Gog upfront—who except for his goal (from a brilliant Robbie Keane pass) was dreadful—played Lucas in place of Alonso, put Babel on the right side, and experimented in goal. Riera was brilliant, Keane very good, Mascherano at his marauding best, and the defense was solid. I especially enjoyed watching Agger, the smooth Dane, making forward runs. I do think Rafa Benítez sees how it all fits together (the players and their individual skills, the positions they take up, how they match up with opponents) with consummate skill. But I can see why the fans are demanding his head, even though his team are at the top of the table. His mindset is continental, not English. It is always defense first. It’s why I always prefer watching Man U.