Recounting the shortest month for Liverpool in 2010.
Like so much of 2010, February was somewhat up and down---a derby win against Everton and a victory over Blackburn were the bookends, and a comfortable tie against Unirea saw the Reds progress in the Europa League. But there was also an ugly loss to Arsenal, a bore draw with City, and the start of a Champions League knockout round without Liverpool.
Here's a couple pieces from what was covered on the Liverpool Offside during the month:
At the time of the transfer:
"He is like the ideal father-in-law. He has a lot of football know-how and he told me that I would be challenging with six other players for four positions. I have a good feeling about things.
"It was very important how the coach spoke to me, how I would fit in his team. After that conversation, I knew it was the right decision."
Two Years Later:
"I have tried to talk to the manager but it isn't of any use. I couldn't really do anything with the feedback Benitez gave me. We have agreed to look at my situation in the winter. If there's no improvement then, I have to be honest, I want to be somewhere else.
"I don't play a lot so I can't be happy and I can't cheer out loud. Sometimes I wonder how long I can sustain it but I will fight for my position - what else can I do?"
So what the hell happened? In the first season after arriving, Babel featured in 30 league matches, scoring 4 goals and providing Liverpool with some additional pace. He also figured prominently in cup competitions, scoring against Besiktas (with a wonderful backheel), Marseille, Arsenal, and Chelsea. It was clear that he had talent to spare and looked to be one of Liverpool's more promising younger players. He was never really played in a striker's role unless it was later in games, but you got the feeling that he would work his way into the squad somehow.
But in the 2008-2009 season, his appearances dropped, he scored fewer goals, and it was clear that he was anything but working his way into the squad. After scoring the winner against United at Anfield, Babel started to fade into relative obscurity even when he was on the pitch. He wouldn't score another goal for nearly three months, and after that the only times he found the net were in mop-up duty. You could start to get the sense that he was less than impressed with the way he was being handled.
Yet he continued to have potential, the most dangerous of traits. You'd tell yourself, if he could just harness it, he'd be unstoppable. You'd think, if Rafa would just give him a shot, he'd blossom. Sure, Liverpool had Fernando Torres, but there had to be a way to fit Babel in. As proprietor of most of these thoughts, I couldn't help but see that Babel had the talent to make a huge impact on Liverpool's attack. And then, he opened his mouth.
It's been a trying season, no doubt. But remember the good times---A win (in the Champions League, RIP), the Kop at full strength, You'll Never Walk Alone before it was used to assault fellow fans split by a tough season, Steven Gerrard managing to stay on his feet, John Terry crying, William Gallas crying, Arjen Robben without leggings, Djimi Traore not scoring an own goal, John Arne Riise not scoring an own goal, Mateja Kezman looking out of place, and Harry Kewell walking off the pitch under his own power. Living in a perfect past? Maybe. But it never hurts to remember what the club is capable of.
So turns out watching that video sucks. So does Tuesday. Everything's the worst. Be gone 2010!