While a majority of supporters, if not all of them, have taken great joy in looking forward, today we get some closure on the past from this story on ESPN Soccernet.
While some have speculated that Xabi Alonso was always planning to head back to Spain, and he had alluded to that in previous years on Merseyside, here is the player himself pretty much stating that inexplicable, bewildering, and downright nonsensical chasing of Gareth Barry the previous summer shoved Alonso out the door. Whatever was going on off the pitch, the departure of Alonso was probably the biggest reason why things went pear-shaped on it.
Once Alonso was gone, there was no axis from the defense to the attacking prowess of Gerrard and Torres together. Alonso made that bridge with his passing. Rafa had felt that Alonso didn't get high enough up the pitch to support the attacking two, and that's why he bought Aquilani -- who definitely got in the box more. But Aquilani's health and Rafa's lack of confidence in him means we never got to find out if that would have worked. Without either Il Principino or Alonso, and Lucas still very much in the developmental stage, Liverpool's midfield was blunt to say the least. They were overrun far too often, and when they weren't they certainly weren't creative enough, stranding Torres and Gerrard.
It's over now, and we've ended up with a pretty nice consolation prize in Raul Meireles. Raul is certainly more mobile than Alonso, but doesn't have near the range of passing. Perhaps Lucas's development is a product of being out Alonso's shadow, where he can be more than just a defensive minder. You would have thought he would have had that chance with a full season next to Javier Mascherano, but maybe not.
It's all under the bridge now I guess, but the sting is still kind of there. Seems like at least one season was lost partially to the stubbornness of Rafa, who didn't fully appreciate the gift he had in Alonso. Which is strange, as he brought him here.