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Interview with Rafa - 25th October - Exclusive From Paavo Nurmi - FF - Football Forum - The Liverpool Way Jump to content

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TEACHER OF THE GAME

 

The minority wanted him out of Anfield, but the majority will never forget him. "Veikkaaja" met with Rafael Benitez - a Liverpool legend with a burning desire to teach football.

 

Q) You have not coached since December 2010. How have you spent your time since you left Inter?

 

"I have a website, we wrote a book called 'Champions League Dreams' and created 'Global Coach', a program for football coaches. They can use it to prepare training sessions and to analyze games. I am also involved in my wife's foundation which helps local charities on Merseyside."

 

Q) Does your move to Inter feel, now, like a mistake?

 

"Maybe, if I had known then everything that I know about Inter know. I had to make a decision in that moment. Before we moved I talked with several Inter players about the way we can improve. It was perhaps the first time Inter did not sign any players during the summer for the coach. Why? Financial Fair Play - but they didn't say it to me beforehand. I was promised three players. Everything was agreed, but we didn't sign these players."

 

Q) When you won FIFA Club World Cup, your second trophy with Inter, you criticised the management of the club. Did you want to get sacked?

 

"If you promise something, you have to do it. It was very simple."

 

Q) You also had some difficult times with management of Liverpool. Did your dream job ever make you unhappy?

 

"I didn't have time to suffer or be unhappy because I was trying to fight for trophies and win. And at the same time we tried to defend the club. It was the main thing when the Americans put the dept on the Club. They then appointed a new Managing Director who was a... businessman."

 

Q) Liverpool won amazing Champions League Final in Istanbul in 2005. How did Liverpool come back from 3-0 down against AC Milan?

 

"We started with four at the back, so we were playing two against two in our defence as Milan played with a diamond formation. Our idea was to be better than them in the wide areas, have control in the middle and defend close. Plan was not working because Kaká was doing a great job. After half time we moved to a back three and put Dietmar Hamann on. From then on we were playing three against two in our defence and we controlled Kaká by playing Xabi Alonso and Hamann in front of our defence. We moved Steven Gerrard and Luis Garcia to play on both sides of Andrea Pirlo. In possession our centre backs had to be wide, and we got space in wide areas by switching the ball quickly."

 

Q) How would you describe your football philosophy?

 

"I like to play good football, but the problem is what people consider as good football! The answer is passing game of Barcelona and Spain. My team has always passed the ball and played short passes, but if there is space behind defender, you have to make a long pass. I like my team to play with high intensity, to press the opponent and to keep ball on the floor. Team has to be organized, but at the same time players need to be given freedom within the system."

 

Q) How important is possession of the ball?

 

"You have to have possession of the ball in the right places. And you need to do the right things with the ball with the right tempo. You can pass the ball and have a 85 percentage passing accuracy, but it doesn't matter. You need to have the ball in the final third."

 

Q) Which is more important for you, winning or the process in itself?

 

"You cannot say that winning is not the most important thing. Still, its also important how you approach the upcoming challenge and the game. And also how you approach the style you want your team to play. Balance is the key. You have to find a way to win, you need to find a way. You have to have a plan A, B and C."

 

Q) You got more goals and assists out of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres than any other coach. Why?

 

"I'm coming from the Academy of Real Madrid, I have a degree in Physical Education, I am a teacher. I coached them in a way I wanted and expected them to play in games."

 

Q) How important are the automatization and the patters of attacking play?

 

"As a coach your job is to prepare the training sessions that give players the answers they will need during a game. You have to give them patterns of play, solutions, ways to attack. I want to teach my players, but the player must also understand why he is being asked to do something. Asking questions is the right way to learn."

 

Q) Your coaching colleague and countryman Juanma Lillo has said that "importance of the coach is limited". Do you agree?

 

"If a player has talent, he will find a way - but not all the players have that kind of talent. These are the players that need to be conducted. Its the coaches job: You have to have answers when your players have questions. If you have the right answers, players will trust their coach and do things in a way he wants. Then you can change things during games. Its important to be close to the game and the players, but yet remain on the outside."

 

Q) Are you misunderstood in England?

 

"I think majority of the people understand now that we were trying to compete in Liverpool in difficult circumstances against top sides - with a smaller budget than they had. They know now - after having watched Liverpool during these past two seasons - how difficult it was to keep the team in Champions League every year. Maybe we even overachieved."

 

Q) Does your former protege Sami Hyypia have the potential to develop into a top-class coach or manager?

 

"He is very clever and a very good professional who is good at analyzing the game. Sami has all the potential to become a good coach. I offered to extend his contract for a year and a place in my backroom staff."

 

Q) Did you consider selecting Hyypia to your starting eleven in his farewell game as a Liverpool player?

 

"I think I put him on at the end of the game, no? I tried to give him a tribute from the fans at the end of the game, but the main thing was trying to win the game. I had to think about what was our best team for that game. If I can help somebody after that, I will do it."

 

Q) What are the most important things for you when deciding your next project?

 

"Ambition. Challenge. As you can now see face to face - I like to win. I want to go to a place were I can improve things and challenge."

 

Q) You have said that being a coach is your life, your identity. What makes you happy?

 

"Before I just wanted to be good at my job but now I'm spending more time with my daughters. I enjoy when they are doing well and my wife achieves something. You need to have a balance in life. I was just coming with the family London, but I still watched a game on our way back."

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TEACHER OF THE GAME

 

The minority wanted him out of Anfield, but the majority will never forget him. "Veikkaaja" met with Rafael Benitez - a Liverpool legend with a burning desire to teach football.

 

Q) You have not coached since December 2010. How have you spent your time since you left Inter?

 

"I have a website, we wrote a book called 'Champions League Dreams' and created 'Global Coach', a program for football coaches. They can use it to prepare training sessions and to analyze games. I am also involved in my wife's foundation which helps local charities on Merseyside."

 

Q) Does your move to Inter feel, now, like a mistake?

 

"Maybe, if I had known then everything that I know about Inter know. I had to make a decision in that moment. Before we moved I talked with several Inter players about the way we can improve. It was perhaps the first time Inter did not sign any players during the summer for the coach. Why? Financial Fair Play - but they didn't say it to me beforehand. I was promised three players. Everything was agreed, but we didn't sign these players."

 

Q) When you won FIFA Club World Cup, your second trophy with Inter, you criticised the management of the club. Did you want to get sacked?

 

"If you promise something, you have to do it. It was very simple."

 

Q) You also had some difficult times with management of Liverpool. Did your dream job ever make you unhappy?

 

"I didn't have time to suffer or be unhappy because I was trying to fight for trophies and win. And at the same time we tried to defend the club. It was the main thing when the Americans put the dept on the Club. They then appointed a new Managing Director who was a... businessman."

 

Q) Liverpool won amazing Champions League Final in Istanbul in 2005. How did Liverpool come back from 3-0 down against AC Milan?

 

"We started with four at the back, so we were playing two against two in our defence as Milan played with a diamond formation. Our idea was to be better than them in the wide areas, have control in the middle and defend close. Plan was not working because Kaká was doing a great job. After half time we moved to a back three and put Dietmar Hamann on. From then on we were playing three against two in our defence and we controlled Kaká by playing Xabi Alonso and Hamann in front of our defence. We moved Steven Gerrard and Luis Garcia to play on both sides of Andrea Pirlo. In possession our centre backs had to be wide, and we got space in wide areas by switching the ball quickly."

 

Q) How would you describe your football philosophy?

 

"I like to play good football, but the problem is what people consider as good football! The answer is passing game of Barcelona and Spain. My team has always passed the ball and played short passes, but if there is space behind defender, you have to make a long pass. I like my team to play with high intensity, to press the opponent and to keep ball on the floor. Team has to be organized, but at the same time players need to be given freedom within the system."

 

Q) How important is possession of the ball?

 

"You have to have possession of the ball in the right places. And you need to do the right things with the ball with the right tempo. You can pass the ball and have a 85 percentage passing accuracy, but it doesn't matter. You need to have the ball in the final third."

 

Q) Which is more important for you, winning or the process in itself?

 

"You cannot say that winning is not the most important thing. Still, its also important how you approach the upcoming challenge and the game. And also how you approach the style you want your team to play. Balance is the key. You have to find a way to win, you need to find a way. You have to have a plan A, B and C."

 

Q) You got more goals and assists out of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres than any other coach. Why?

 

"I'm coming from the Academy of Real Madrid, I have a degree in Physical Education, I am a teacher. I coached them in a way I wanted and expected them to play in games."

 

Q) How important are the automatization and the patters of attacking play?

 

"As a coach your job is to prepare the training sessions that give players the answers they will need during a game. You have to give them patterns of play, solutions, ways to attack. I want to teach my players, but the player must also understand why he is being asked to do something. Asking questions is the right way to learn."

 

Q) Your coaching colleague and countryman Juanma Lillo has said that "importance of the coach is limited". Do you agree?

 

"If a player has talent, he will find a way - but not all the players have that kind of talent. These are the players that need to be conducted. Its the coaches job: You have to have answers when your players have questions. If you have the right answers, players will trust their coach and do things in a way he wants. Then you can change things during games. Its important to be close to the game and the players, but yet remain on the outside."

 

Q) Are you misunderstood in England?

 

"I think majority of the people understand now that we were trying to compete in Liverpool in difficult circumstances against top sides - with a smaller budget than they had. They know now - after having watched Liverpool during these past two seasons - how difficult it was to keep the team in Champions League every year. Maybe we even overachieved."

 

Q) Does your former protege Sami Hyypia have the potential to develop into a top-class coach or manager?

 

"He is very clever and a very good professional who is good at analyzing the game. Sami has all the potential to become a good coach. I offered to extend his contract for a year and a place in my backroom staff."

 

Q) Did you consider selecting Hyypia to your starting eleven in his farewell game as a Liverpool player?

 

"I think I put him on at the end of the game, no? I tried to give him a tribute from the fans at the end of the game, but the main thing was trying to win the game. I had to think about what was our best team for that game. If I can help somebody after that, I will do it."

 

Q) What are the most important things for you when deciding your next project?

 

"Ambition. Challenge. As you can now see face to face - I like to win. I want to go to a place were I can improve things and challenge."

 

Q) You have said that being a coach is your life, your identity. What makes you happy?

 

"Before I just wanted to be good at my job but now I'm spending more time with my daughters. I enjoy when they are doing well and my wife achieves something. You need to have a balance in life. I was just coming with the family London, but I still watched a game on our way back."

 

 

 

I want him back, mediocrity does not suit us. I know he had a bad last season but I don't care about that, it was a blip. More control over his transfers would be needed. When he signed good players they were bloody good.

 

I know there will be a lot of "look at the shit he signed as well" but when was the last time we signed a truly world class player?

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I want him back, mediocrity does not suit us. I know he had a bad last season but I don't care about that, it was a blip. More control over his transfers would be needed. When he signed good players they were bloody good.

 

I know there will be a lot of "look at the shit he signed as well" but when was the last time we signed a truly world class player?

 

January 2011 - Luis Suarez

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Great interview. Thanks for posting. Will never forgive the club for letting Rafa go, it was a wrong decision, but that's in the past now unfortunately. Someone has clearly spoken very negatively of him to FSG as they wouldn't even have a look in the summer.

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Guest Numero Veinticinco
Tony Evans had another early hour drunken rant on twitter about "philosophies"' date=' its obvious he wants Rodgers sacked and Benitez back, it's hilarious reading him beat about the bush about it.[/quote']

 

He's only really mimicking what many short-sighted, perspective-lacking drones say on here every day. It's a sad sight to see somebody so obviously lacking in understanding progress to his position.

 

It's not what you know...

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I think after all that has happened while Rafa was at the club, having him back in any capacity wouldn't be so wise, as it would be divisive to a lot of people connected with the club.

 

That said, I would love to see him get a job elsewhere and do well. Exactly what kind of job he sees as ideal for him though, is anybody's guess.

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when all is said and done - and i am a fan (i used to watch Valencia under him when living in Spain) whenever i watched Liverpool under Rafa i always had the feeling we would win - i don't feel that way at the moment to be sure.

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I think after all that has happened while Rafa was at the club, having him back in any capacity wouldn't be so wise, as it would be divisive to a lot of people connected with the club.

 

That said, I would love to see him get a job elsewhere and do well. Exactly what kind of job he sees as ideal for him though, is anybody's guess.

 

Who are these people it would be divisive too and is their emotional well-being THAT important? Could they not just man-up and do their job that they are being paid to do?

 

If you make issues like this bigger than they really are, then you start ruling out people like Mourinho, Ferguson, LVG, etc and the pattern that winners in an ultra-competitive game tend to be single minded and get pissed off with people not pulling their weight emerges. If you want to handicap yourself, don't complain later when nice guys finish mid-table.

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If you make issues like this bigger than they really are, then you start ruling out people like Mourinho, Ferguson, LVG, etc and the pattern that winners in an ultra-competitive game tend to be single minded and get pissed off with people not pulling their weight emerges. If you want to handicap yourself, don't complain later when nice guys finish mid-table.

 

I normally agree with your posts but you are wide of the mark here.

 

Mourinho Whiskeynose and LVG play to win in the Boardroom, and do. Mourinho came unstuck with Abrahamovic, and learned. Rafa hasn't.

 

I agree with the merits of being single minded. But when you are £4m a year executive you have to be able to manage upwards, as well as downwards, and Rafa struggles with that.

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I normally agree with your posts but you are wide of the mark here.

 

Mourinho Whiskeynose and LVG play to win in the Boardroom, and do. Mourinho came unstuck with Abrahamovic, and learned. Rafa hasn't.

 

I agree with the merits of being single minded. But when you are £4m a year executive you have to be able to manage upwards, as well as downwards, and Rafa struggles with that.

 

By all means make the case Benitez is a basket case; but Avram Grant, Abrahamovic, Valdano, . . . Disagree. As do the Ajax board members who voted off LVG. Of course, nobody dare disagree w/Ferguson.

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