No room for sentiment in Liverpool's quest for trophies
HARRY REDKNAPP'S first act after re-signing Robbie Keane was to give him the Tottenham captaincy.
Now that might just be a simple act of man management by the Spurs boss, designed to lift a player whose confidence has been knocked by his in and out treatment at Anfield.
But it might also hint at one of the reasons why Rafa Benitez was prepared to cash in on a striker he only signed five months ago.
Redknapp's gesture was the kind of hand round the shoulder you don't get at Anfield.
Not even if you're Steven Gerrard.
"If Liverpool win and I stick away a dead-good hat-trick and do 98 things right and two wrong," said the Reds' most valuable player bar none "Rafa will pull me sharpish. 'Steven, about those two mistakes,' he'll say, and he'll speak to me for 10 minutes about them."
And Gerrard listens.
You need to stand on your own two feet at Anfield.
And since Tuesday afternoon there has been just a suggestion or two that Robbie Keane needed more TLC than his manager was prepared to offer.
Clearly there were other reasons, too, for his departure, not least the complex political machinations which infect Anfield like a virus.
Nevertheless, selling an experienced striker is still an enormous gamble by Rafa Benitez. One can only hope it has been calculated.
Keane's selection for Liverpool's 25-man Champions League squad, 24 hours before he was sold suggests the decision was spur of the moment.
It leaves Liverpool a man down for their European campaign, and puts a huge responsibility on Torres and Gerrard to carry the goalscoring burden.
It's a weight they're prepared to carry - because at Liverpool the only pat on the back you get is when the trophies are handed out.
A clever twist of the psychological screw
MIND GAMES are supposed to be the sole preserve of top four team managers.
When Alex Ferguson opens his mouth or Rafa Benitez opens a sheet of A4, it's because they are employing cute psychology.
When Jose Mourinho moaned or Arsene Wenger whined, it was a calculated bid to inflict damage on opponents.
But for anybody else outside the top four, it's just a statement.
But there are lessons at least one manager in the top four could learn from David Moyes' twisting of the psychological screw this week.
He delivered just a couple of sentences ahead of Wednesday night's FA Cup replay, aimed squarely at Alan Wiley.
"I think Liverpool have had an awful lot going for them," he said. "We are wholehearted, but when you get players lying on the floor waving their hands suggesting cards and the referee is missing challenges, it's very hard."
It was similar to the appeal he made before another refereeing bete noir, Steve Bennett took charge of the 200th derby match in 2004. Everton won that match, too.
Did Mr Wiley and Mr Bennett read those words? And were they influenced?
We'll never know, but the fact that Everton were victorious each time suggests the pre-match reminder didn't do his team's chances any harm?
It's not just the Scot from up the road who can do mind games.