I'll admit it, Rafa Benitez really winds me up. To follow up on my post Derby post, I though it'd be worth giving the background to the Everton fans treatment of Steven Gerrard. (It might, you'd think, be worth reflecting on this prior to painting it across the willing tabloids...)
What motivates a group of fans to (i) launch a torrent of abuse; (ii) sing songs questioning the paternity of your daughter? Partly it's sheer mindless vulgarity. Surely any decent fan realises that a line has been crossed, and it's out of order to sing about a player's family. But there is a background to this. I remember being sat in the Main Stand at Goodison when Gerrard ran the length of the Bullens Rd cupping his ear (this gives a taste). I remember my first week of uni, when he tried to break Kevin Campbell's leg. And again on Naysmith. Also, there's clearly animosity due simply to the fact that he's a scouser - remember Wayne Rooney being booed/chanted about in his first derby, purely for warming up?
Sadly all Benitez has done is provided fuel for an ever willing Sun vendetta against the city of Liverpool, and the inevitable counter charges emerge. Everton have officially complained about the chants aimed at Joleon Lescott (referring to his car-crash induced facial scars), and I've also heard accusations of chants against Lee Carsley (who has a child with Down's Syndrome). Most seriously, it's looking like Phil Neville was spat at and physically assaulted by a fan during the match. Rafa: is it worth it?
I also want to point out another sign of Benitez's lack of class - the continuation of the fallacy that he hasn't been given enough funds to invest, and somehow he's "turned around" the club. When he took over Liverpool were 4th. He inherited world-class players such as Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, and Michael Owen. Since then he's spent £150,000,000. And currently they're 4th. This myth is frankly disgusting in the implied defamation over Gerard Houllier's reign. Whatever people say about Houllier I think he is genuinely respected as being a decent man. Somehow Liverpool fans - to a man - seem to be caught under the spell cast by a single night in Istanbul. The Champions League winning team was brought to the club by Houllier. Benitez only started rebuilding after then, and has an FA Cup to show. In terms of trophies he's lagging behind Houllier, despite the massive increase in spending. Liverpool are further behind the title race than under Houllier, despite the massive increase in spending.
Regarding those numbers, they're always guaranteed to cause controversy, but using LFCHistory.net (who inexclibaly don't count Cisse as a Benitez signing):
And you can compare that with Arsenal's £8m net, who played them off the park tonight but were denied a blatant penalty (and don't get me started on what Bendtner was doing...)
That's why Benitez gets my goat, and the more deluded Liverpool fans are, and the longer he lasts, the better.