The end of conservative Benitez: The undoing of Liverpool?

•November 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Has the change to a more attacking Liverpool been their Undoing?

Daniel D’Alfonso

Ever since Rafael Benitez took over the reigns as manager at Liverpool, the perception from outside of the club has been that the Spaniard is a defence minded tactician and many of his critics have been quick to blame his negative tactics for Liverpool’s failure to win their first premier league title.

Last season Benitez’s side pushed bitter rivals Manchester United right to the death-only to fail after drawing seven games at home against some rather modest opposition. The inability to score in front of their own fans, ultimately cost them the premier league title, and the Rafa critics were quick to blame the bosses’ conservative 4-2-3-1 formation for the clubs home failings. What the critics also failed to mention was that Liverpool were the leagues top scorers, netting 77 goals in 38 league games including a run where they managed to score more than four goals in four consecutive games in all competitions.

Benitez’s Liverpool teams of recent years have been based on defensive solidity, with Club stalwart and vice captain Jamie Carragher leading the way as Liverpool saw themselves lose only twice in the league last season-away to Tottenham and Middlesbrough. They were the first team to only lose two games in a season, and still fail to capture the league title.

Fast forward to November and Benitez’s team have already lost five times in their opening twelve games, including a home loss to Aston Villa which, as well as two losses in the Champions league, and a League cup loss at the hands of Arsene Wenger’s young gunners. The defensive solidity, for which Benitez’s teams are renowned for, seems to have diminished, much like the form of Carragher, who has had a horror start to the season. Only 12 games into the 09/10 Premier league season, Liverpool find themselves 11 points behind league leaders Chelsea and on the brink of a group stage exit in the champion’s league-no matter what excuse you hear in each Benitez press conference, it is hard not to pin the blame on the clubs Spanish manager.

In the Summer Benitez offloaded Spanish playmaker Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, and it can be argued that after the former Real Socieadad man handed in a transfer request Benitez was powerless to stop the Basque playmaker from leaving the club- however if Benitez had not transfer listed Alonso at the conclusion of the 2007/2008 season, then he would be still at the Merseyside club.

After offloading Alonso and compatriot Alvaro Arbeloa both to Real Madrid, Benitez signed far more attack minded replacements for the duo, In Glenn Johnson to fill Arbeloa’s right-back position, and Italian international Alberto Aquilani to replace Alonso. These two signings raised the eyebrows of the Anfield faithful as it seemed that a tactical change was on the cards.

Whilst Johnson has made a great impact since his 18 million pound move from Portsmouth, his desire to get forward at every opportunity, can leave the reds dangerously exposed at the back. Arbeloa was a very competent defender, but rarely threatened in attack, whilst Johnson is seen as very strong in attack, and has been often criticised for his inability to defend. Benitez seems to have adopted a far more attack-minded approach, and it looms to be his undoing.
The departure of such a versatile defender like Arbeloa cannot be underestimated; the Spaniard often filled in at Centre-back as well as Left-back, and flourished in those positions. So whilst the Departure of Alonso is often publicised as a big part of Liverpool’s failings (and since his replacement has managed 10 minutes of game time in the league since joining in the summer it seems a logical explanation) , many discount just how important Arbeloa was to the Anfield club and Rafa’s defensive solidity.

So even though Xabi Alonso’s departure continues to dominate the thoughts of Liverpool’s faithful, spare a moment of thought to reflect on just how much the club might miss Arbeloa. Remember the time that Arbeloa marked Lionel Messi out of a champions league tie playing in an unnatural role at left-back in a champions league knockout tie at camp Nou? I remember it fondly; the little known new signing from Deportivo came out and shut down the world’s best player who was on top form. So whilst I feel that Glenn Johnson will be one of Benitez’s greatest signings, I can’t help but think that the hole left by Arbeloa’s departure from a defensive standpoint cannot be filled by a player with the attacking instincts possessed by Glenn Johnson.

In Alberto Aquilani, Benitez signed a player who from midfield does the complete opposite of his predecessor Alonso. Whilst Alonso is known for sitting in midfield and dictating the tempo of a game, Aquilani is a box-to-box midfielder who has an eye for goal. Benitez claims that he can play in the hole between midfield and the striker as well as playing in the centre of midfield, but one thing is for sure, he is not a like for like replacement for Alonso, in fact the deep lying playmaker role which Alonso plays so well for club and country was crucial in Benitez’s setup.

Whether you blame the departure of the Spanish Duo to Real Madrid, the departure of club legend Sami Hyypia, or the injuries on international duty to key players such as Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Albert Riera, one thing is for certain. Rafael Benitez has his work cut out trying to keep his job as they continue to struggle in their quest for that elusive premier league title.

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Monash World News Collaborative Map

•October 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Welcome to the Monash World News Collaborative Map!

Upon closer inspection you will find a location to match to the insightfull stories you can find on other blog pages!!

Australian students hopes of attending prestigious directing course in New York shattered

•October 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

– reported by Noni Garratt

A talented young Victorian’s dreams of attending a prestigious directing course in New York have been shattered due to extreme costs and complex visa requirements.

Zoe Hallwright, 21, of East Malvern recently got accepted into New York University. Specifically she got accepted into the Tisch School of Arts Drama program, which accepts 200-300 students per year. She also got accepted into the stage directing stream which accepts the very small number of only 8-12 students per year.

However, whilst Zoe was chosen out of thousands of people around the world, she cannot attend NYU due to the extreme cost of the course. It costs AU$50,00 per year.

There was a lengthy application process that started with an online application which involved in-depth details and discussion of my academic life, dreams for the future and past experiences through essays and short answer submissions.” Zoe explains.

After Zoe’s application was accepted, she flew all the way to New York just to attend the interview where she presented a monologue and a portfolio of a directing concept for a show of her choice.

Zoe Hallwright visiting New York for her interview

Zoe Hallwright visiting New York for her interview

This isn’t your everyday straightforward course where you are taught the basic skills but given no help within the actual industry. Students in the directing stream spend three days a week doing practical training in a professional, off-Broadway studio where famous composers such as Stephen Sondheim have created and developed their original works.

The Tisch School of Arts have many valuable contacts in the New York Theatre World. Not only do they have the capacity for setting up their students with internships on Broadway but they also provide a high standard of training required for a theatre practitioner. This gives students a very real chance of making it in the cutting edge world of Broadway.

New York University - Tisch School of Arts

New York University - Tisch School of Arts

When I first started looking into applying, the school did refer me to two different institutions through which I could get an International Student loan with a home country co-signer.” Zoe said.

However, when I called these banks they had cancelled this particular type of loan for reasons associated with the Global Financial Crisis. NYU was unable to offer any assistance regarding alternative forms of payment.” She added.

Because the course is four years long Zoe would have needed to raise $200,000 in total to be able to attend.

There are federal loans available to US citizens and some organisations offer International Student loans if the student can find a credit worthy US citizen or permanent resident to co-sign with them. But without any residents or friends that live in the US, this is incredibly difficult to obtain.

The university basically told me that I had to find the funds on my own, which I have tried to do but I have found it to be virtually impossible without winning the lottery.” Zoe said.

Zoe then looked into the possibility of her partner Liam moving to New York with her in an attempt to earn money to help support her. But they then learned this was an even tougher problem to solve. Liam’s visa options included a 12 month working visa, for which he would have to be able to find a US sponsor to obtain and after which completed he couldn’t return to continue living with Zoe.

The American Embassy in Canberra states that in order to work legally in the U.S., non-residents must first locate an employer or sponsor who files a petition that basically states that they are more fitted for the job than any American citizen.

And on top of all that the American embassy does not recognize de facto relationships. Therefore Zoe and Liam’s only other option was to get married.

Spousal visas are very restrictive – I would not have legally been able to work, so our income, even if Zoe worked the maximum of 20 hours per week as designated by her student visa, would have been grossly insufficient to support a couple.” Liam said.

NYU did nothing to help Zoe except to send her out on her own to raise $200,000. What American Universities don’t seem to understand is that money and student loans work differently here in Australia. American students are used to this price for a decent college education; their parents and grandparents have been saving and preparing for these costs often for the entire period of their child’s life.

It was because of this that Zoe had to accept her inevitable fate.

Loans here don’t go anywhere near as high as that unless you’re looking at a mortgage and given that education loans have no collateral, there was nothing for it except to accept that it was just too much.” She said.

Iran: Men Scared Of Women’s Success

•October 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Iranian ex-patriots have said their government refuses to allow women to advance in society because they are scared of what they will achieve.

The two ex-patriots say the Iranian government is intentionally keeping women under shrouds to prevent them from rising to the same level as men.

“I think that they don’t let woman in(to power) because they are scared because they know that a woman is capable of so much…and they are scared to let her succeed…(They are scared that) she is better than them.”, said ex-patriot Iman Almatary.

This follows fresh reports showing a rising trend in Iranian women enrolling in university – according to nature.com the International Journal of Science, some 70% of Iranian University graduates are women.

“Part of the reason for more women in university education seems to be that many young men are more interested in making money”, said BBC reporter Frances Harrison.

Although many men enter the workplace early, women are tempted to stay in universities longer because their pay rate is dismal compared to their male counterparts of the same education level.

“The pay for women is still at least half the amount they would pay men for the same work”, said Mariam Alhazaa, an Iranian student who now lives in Australia.

A woman receiving half of a man’s pay packet is indicative of Iran’s Islamic revolutionist law:

“The “Deyeh (worth)” of a Muslim woman is half of the “Deyeh (worth)” of a Muslim man.” (Article 300 of the Iranian Penal Code).

That is, by law the life of an Iranian woman has half the value of an Iranian man in Islamic criminal law.

Iranian women's protest

Iranian women's protest

According to ex-patriot Mrs. Almatary, Iran’s laws are also unfavorable to women in regards to divorce and custody of children.

“…My friend got divorced with her husband and he got custody of the kids (as the one with the income) as stated in the Quran law and Iranian law. He did not allow her to see the kids and because she was a divorced woman the courts did not respect her legally.” said Mrs. Almatary.

After divorce, Iran’s constitution automatically grants custody of male children over the age of 6 and female children over the age of 10 to the father. Unless expressly directed by the courts, the father is not required to grant any visitation rights to the mother.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Since Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1976 such laws have become accepted and with the June re-election of conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – known for his support of such oppressive laws – they look set to continue.

Although President Ahmadinejad has met with wide appraisal for naming three women in his 2009 governmental cabinet, he is not without skeptics.

“They put (on) three women so people wouldn’t complain about sexism. Even Iraq had more women in the government…at higher places.”, said Mrs. Almatary.

Many believe it is now the time for Iran’s increasing population of tertiary educated women to step up, a view shared by Massoumeh Umidvar a student and working mother.

“We women want to show we are here and we have a lot to say – for years we have lived under the heavy shadow of men – our fathers and brothers and now we want to come out of that”, she said.

Below is Youtube clip of images from an Iranian protest in gaining women’s rights – check it out!:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iU-Dy53nCNU

World Map

•October 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment
Simple World Map

Simple World Map