While managers ought generally to be prohibited from gurning over missing players, a special exemption will have to be granted for Rafael BenÃtez. The Spaniard’s English vocabulary has mostly been enhanced by medical terminology since he arrived in this country.
Stephen Warnock, Fernando Morientes and Dietmar Hamann all had to be replaced before the interval, so preventing BenÃtez from savouring his team’s superiority as Liverpool won a Merseyside derby at Anfield for the first time in five years. The manager’s contentment will also be undermined by a weakness in one of his players that had nothing to do with strained muscles or twisted joints.
After 77 minutes Milan Baros (above) was as rash in the challenge as he had been in his finishing and lunged at Alan Stubbs in a manner that ensured a red card. BenÃtez could not bear to make eye contact with the Czech as he left the pitch but could surely visualise what would happen next and, within five minutes, Everton had scored as Tim Cahill rifled in a shot from Duncan Ferguson’s knock-down.
At the end it was understandable that a generally reserved manager should join the huddle of celebrating players on the pitch. Joy has to be grabbed because it vanishes swiftly for men in his position. BenÃtez was soon talking vaguely about the “two or three weeks” for which the experienced pair of Morientes and Hamann will be absent.