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Calming the waters

Good signs all around Saturday as a tumultuous week ended with the players, fans and most important board members rallying to support Rafa Benitez. The first 45 minutes were excellent against Aston Villa, and the three goals showed the best of what all fans want to see from Liverpool.

It was a crucial match, with Benitez being slagged by an anonymous board member who, I hope to Christ, will get exposed and thrown off the committee. A humiliating loss to United and executive second-guessing are not what Rafa needs, and it was comforting to see the performance. It might be reading too much into it, but in situations like that, I always think it's important that the team react strongly. It says a great deal about the man leading them.

When Sam Allardyce was caught up in the bung scandal earlier this season, Bolton played excellently, the players showing their allegiance and belief in their coach. The same happened yesterday. Villa is not a team that fails to prepare under Martin O'Neill, but they looked just that against a pacy, crisp passing Liverpool in the first 45 minutes. The second half wasn't as thrilling but credit O'Neill for making adjustments to bring some fight to the match.

Nonetheless, that's two wins now in a row, and there's no point in qualifying them. Just keep winning. Bordeaux on Wednesday and another good chance to keep it up. The Reds have to be rolling when they head to North London early next month to play Arsenal. That's the season's next checkpoint.

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