Newcastle 1 LFC 5 - The Whispers Are Getting Louder ...

Posted by Mark_P on December 30, 2008, 09:03:05 PM

From hopes being dashed by December annually, to every signing being heralded as the "missing link", it's little wonder that talk of the title has been hushed until now.  For any Red under the age of twenty five, it's hard to start thinking of a title win as it's been the dream for so long.  A chance to produce a full trophy haul in watching the Reds to bore a younger generation of Reds in the same vein past glories were met with jealous looks every time a arl arse would start with the story of Moleniux or Stamford Bridge. 

But, those hushed tones of title talk have gradually become shouts of belief. 

If any sight shows the difference between this year and last, it was the sight of bit-part players producing the goods when called upon.  The news that greeted the travelling Reds as the seemingly endless flights of stairs were conquered, had the left the majority of Reds who had managed the hike already with looks of sheer bemusement, horror and even anger on their faces.  As team news filtered through, many had to find out from more than one source that the news of the dropping of Albert Riera, Xabi Alonso and Robbie Keane wasn't up there with the "Emile Heskey has scored" rumour that swept White Hart Lane last May in the wild unfounded rumours stake.  Upon hearing the definite news, one Red even remarked that the Ben Nevis-esque height of the away end at St James could even tempt one or two suicidal thoughts.  If the Spaniard at the helm was still feeling under the weather during this match, he would've felt a lot worse had he heard a few of the unsavoury terms used for the team he selected in the away concourse.

Not for the first time, a Rafa Benitez team selection surprised everyone.  The names of Lucas Leiva, Ryan Babel starting, and the hardworking but limited Dirk Kuyt leading the line alone meant that it wasn't a surprise greeted with approval by Reds.  But, not for the first time, the plan worked, prompting more backtracking than Mike Ashley's programme notes post-game.  Of course, I never doubted it for a second.  Honest.

The sight of Lucas pulling the strings in the middle and later on the right, Babel becoming more confident as the match went on and Dirk Kuyt leading the line well, proved Benitez's selection and faith shown in the trio was spot on.  The positioning of Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun gave the Reds plenty of attacking options, and yet again Emiliano Insua proving he has what it takes to become an integral part of the team.  But, other than ensuring the Reds came away from Newcastle on Sunday afternoon with three points, the win marked the first time that title aspirations; whispers previously; were now belted out loud and clear.  The first time the subject of a title win wasn't met with people not wanting to believe, not wanting to get their hopes up; a real belief that "hand it over Ferguson" could be ringing around Anfield come May.

The game started with the Reds controlling the tempo, and within the first twelve minutes would've wrapped the game up had it not been for the excellent Shay Given in the Magpies' goal.  After Kuyt, Sami Hyypia, Gerrard and Lucas were all guilty of failing to score through both Givens heroics and poor finishing, it was easy to cast your mind back to the Reds only league defeat of the season at Tottenham, where after dominating Spurs, a lack of nous in front of goal cost the Reds the points.  Thankfully, with the Reds looking hugely dangerous in the attack, and the disarray in the Toon backline, a repeat of November's defeat wasn't likely.

Benayoun's cross found Gerrard, who slammed the ball home, with the only surprise being it took thirty minutes for the Liverpool captain, to chalk up the first goal.  Six minutes later, the as ever immense Sami Hyypia headed home, seemingly ensuring the only answer the rest of the game would answer would be just how many the league leaders would score. 

Despite David Edgar taking advantage of some uncharacteristic sloppiness to head home unmarked just before halftime, only a shambolic half would've let Newcastle back in.  After numerous showings of the three second half Red goals over the last few days on TV; that is, when they haven't got Southport bars to hang around after someone loosing a tooth becomes more newsworthy than the scenes in Gaza; there is little point in providing commentary of them here days later.  Each goal, each crisp passing movement saw "We shall not be moved" sung with more conviction.  The chant had cautiously been dusted off a few weeks previously; this time there was undoubted gusto involved, and a lot more belief.

There is a long, long way to go of course, but watching the likes of Lucas, Babel and even the introduction of Insua, David N'gog and in previous games Nabil El Zhar fit amongst more regular starters is as welcome to see as Alonso spreading the ball and dominating games like his 2005 pomp, Gerrard, off field "troubles" or not, proving he is the best midfielder about or Albert Riera continually impressing in his debut season.  In previous seasons - see Reading away, Barnsley at home and West Ham away - the introduction of squad players have meant almost certain poor performances.  Whilst the likes of Lucas, N'gog and Babel still have their doubters, and rightly so in many cases, it is pleasing to see the squad as strong as it is.

With the best striker in Europe ready to lead the line again imminently, Martin Skrtel making a welcome return in the North East; and giving Benitez a huge headache with the form of Sami Hyypia and Daniel Agger in the process; and real belief in the terraces, those whispers and murmurings are beginning to get louder.  Those thoughts previously banished through fear of being yet again letdown can now be thought.

It will take a huge effort from everyone connected with Liverpool FC.  But Sunday's demolition of Newcastle, coupled with Bolton's similar experience,  has tipped the feeling around our fanbase from being hopeful, to a confidence and real belief not seen since the run up to Istanbul in 2005.

The whispers are becoming deafening.

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