Michael
Roberts at the Crikey Sports Desk writes:

This might not quite be Lazarus with a triple bypass, but it’s still a hell of
a comeback.

Six months ago, Harry Kewell was one of English soccer’s most maligned players.
Injuries had curtailed his appearances over three seasons with Liverpool and, when he did make
it on to the park, he looked only a shadow of the player who had created such a
name for himself at Leeds.
The nadir came in May last year, on that remarkable night when Liverpool came back from 3-0
down against the mighty AC Milan to claim their fifth European Cup. Kewell
limped out of the game inside the first 20 minutes, his groin torn and his Liverpool career seemingly in
tatters. The chatrooms and fan sites were full of experts telling Reds’ manager
Rafa Benitez to offload the perennial under-performer to anyone who would take
him.

But Rafa stuck with Kewell. And slowly, surely, the Australian has been
repaying that faith.

If you managed to catch anything of last weekend’s Premier League action, you
would have seen Harry’s wonder goal that sealed Liverpool’s victory over
Everton. It was indeed a cracking strike, and a candidate for goal of the
season, though not much better than his blistering volley against Spurs a
couple of months back.

But Harry’s renaissance is much more complete than just two opportunistic
strikes, no matter how glorious.

Rather, it’s the way he’s been playing that’s got people talking again.
Deployed mainly on the left, he’s once again been running at defenders,
twisting and tormenting them, before getting in dangerous crosses or incisive
passes. He’s been working deep back into his own defence, too. And his shooting
has remained crisp and powerful.

In short, he’s been edging closer and closer to the Harry of old. In the
process, he’s turned critics into fans: they’ve even been prepared to overlook
his truly appalling “double bun” hairstyle.

All this, of course, is not just good news for Liverpool. With the World Cup around
the corner, Harry could not be rediscovering his touch at a better time. With
Mark Viduka having also regained his eye for a goal with Middlesborough, Australia’s
chances in its first-round matches against Japan, Croatia
and Brazil suddenly seem a whole lot brighter. (Oh OK, maybe not against Brazil.)

Peter Fray

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