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Rafa Benitez not to blame for Liverpool FC's awful start

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COMMENT: Rafa Benitez not to blame for Liverpool FC's awful start

 

Oct 28 2010 By Ben Thornley, Head of Sport

 

NOT since William Shakespeare transformed Richard III into a deformed hunchback has a figure endured as much revisionism at the hands of English writers as Rafa Benitez.

As Liverpool manager, Benitez once quipped that he was “blamed for everything, for global warming to high petrol prices”.

It is only since he left Anfield, however, that the real finger-pointing began.

 

Even Benitez’s most ardent supporter – which this observer certainly was not – would concede that the Inter Milan boss made a series of mistakes in his final years on Merseyside, that contributed to Liverpool missing out on the title in 2009 (albeit with a club record Premier League points haul) and the top four last season.

His greatest blunder, though, appears to have been failing to play the game of the English Press, who have assigned culpability for Roy Hodgson’s abysmal start to Benitez.

Tellingly, the Spaniard endured harsher Fleet Street criticism when guiding Liverpool to the summit of the Premier League in 2008 than his successor did after leaving the club second from bottom following a humiliating 2-0 Merseyside derby defeat.

Apparently, it’s not the Londoner’s fault that Liverpool have made their poorest start to a top-flight campaign since they were relegated in the 1950s.

Forget the regressive tactics, the defeatist press conferences, spending close to £10m on Paul Konchesky and Christian Poulsen or playing his marquee signing, Raul Meireles, out of position.

No, if you believe everything you read in the national papers, Liverpool are sat in the bottom three because of Benitez’s record in the transfer market and the quality of the squad he left behind.

This despite the former Valencia coach leaving behind 13 players who featured for their countries during this summer’s World Cup and three signings in Pepe Reina, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano considered to be among the finest in their position in the game.

And as pointed out in this column last week, nine players who featured in the 4-1 victory over United at Old Trafford are still in Liverpool’s ranks.

Admittedly, Benitez was a deeply frustrating figure who made a handful of questionable decisions in the transfer market.

Forcing the exit of Xabi Alonso, who was key to his favoured 4-2-3-1 system favoured, ranks among his worst – as does his choice for the Basque’s replacement, Alberto Aquilani.

But Aquilani – currently impressing at Juventus – was only a poor buy because he was unavailable until late in the season after undergoing ankle surgery in the May.

And it wasn’t Benitez who sent him back to Italy on loan for a season after the Anfield medical team had nursed him back to full fitness, while spending what little money was available on a player who occupies the same position.

When a player left Liverpool under the Madrid-born coach it was often at a profit, something which is usually ignored by when assessing his transfer record. Like the concept of net spend.

His critics use the high turnover of players during his tenure as a stick to beat him with, while arguing the irrelevance of transfer funds received.

To borrow a line from the excellent Liverpool FC writer Paul Tomkins, when you tell someone how much your house cost you don’t tell them the sum of every property you have ever bought.

And Benitez traded at a significant profit during his final 18 months in charge, as the Amercians' debts began to bite.

 

Tom Hicks and George Gillett's destabilising effect on the club is seemingly a legitimate excuse for Hodgson's failure but not Benitez's.

 

The 50-year-old should be remembered as a Liverpool legend after delivering the Champions League in 2005 and assembling the best Reds side for 20 years, yet there are individuals seemingly intent on destroying his legacy.

At the root of this revisionism is the usual mix of xenophobia and patriotism, a resentment of foreign coaches taking the top Premier League jobs – regardless of their pedigree – and a desire to see English bosses get their chance. Again, regardless of their pedigree – see Hodgson.

Remember the fuss when Roberto Mancini replaced Mark Hughes at big spending Manchester City after 18 months of underachievement?

There’s also a less noble motivation behind these journalists wanting British bosses in charge of the elite clubs – they tend to be more open to the Press.

In his entire six-year Anfield stay, Benitez granted just one exclusive interview with a national, The Times.

It’s not that the Spaniard treated the media poorly. Regardless of however intense the interrogation became, Benitez would almost always respond politely and with a smile, no matter how rude his inquisitor.

Something which can’t be said of the tetchy Hodgson.

Every question, no matter how simple, is met with “what do you mean by that, what are you trying to say?”.

An element of his ill temper can be explained away by his inability to cope with the pressure of the Anfield hotseat.

But Scandinavian and Italian journalists report similar experiences, even during the good times, and have expressed bemusement at his portrayal as an English gentleman on these shores.

Indeed, his derisory comments about the abilities of La Liga and Champions League-winning coach Frank Rijkaard, after the Dutchman was linked to the Liverpool job, were pitiful.

Hodgson would swap all of his trophies won in the backwaters of Europe for just one of the former Barcelona coach’s.

Liverpool fans would happily trade Hodgson for Rijkaard.

 

COMMENT: Rafa Benitez not to blame for Liverpool FC's awful start - Liverpool FC - Sport News - Daily Post North Wales

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Pretty good read. Hope it doesn't spark yet another Rafa argument.

 

Good article that, another Rafa argument, don't think there is one now, only a total fuckwit would now still contest that Woy should have replaced Rafa.

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Another blame article.

 

Just blame whoever rung the front doorbell, they obviously triggered off the bomb I set up.

 

young3.jpg

 

EDIT: I should probably add that I agree that Rafa's not to blame, but that ship has sailed.

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Pretty good read. Hope it doesn't spark yet another Rafa argument.

 

Thats the second article ive seen from him recently wanting Hodgson out.

 

If the daily post Journos are writing columns like that, surely his time must be up soon.

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Good article that, another Rafa argument, don't think there is one now, only a total fuckwit would now still contest that Woy should have replaced Rafa.

 

I think the main arguments are focused around the fact that Rafa supporters think that the ones who wanted him out actually support Roy and think he's better. And that the anti-Rafa brigade are somehow responsible for the mess we're in. I don't and never have thought Roy was fit for the role but I also thought it was time for Rafa to go.

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I think the main arguments are focused around the fact that Rafa supporters think that the ones who wanted him out actually support Roy and think he's better. And that the anti-Rafa brigade are somehow responsible for the mess we're in. I don't and never have thought Roy was fit for the role but I also thought it was time for Rafa to go.

 

As you say, the problem wasn't that benitez was sacked, it was the replacement that wasn't good enough. I do think at the time the likes of Hodgson was as good as we were going to get hence the reason I wouldn't have got rid of Benitez, hindsights a great thing though and we may well have been sitting top of the league now, non of us knew.

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Good article that, another Rafa argument, don't think there is one now, only a total fuckwit would now still contest that Woy should have replaced Rafa.

 

Unfortunately, two of those total fuckwits are currently playing in our team.

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Guest PurpleNose
I think the main arguments are focused around the fact that Rafa supporters think that the ones who wanted him out actually support Roy and think he's better. And that the anti-Rafa brigade are somehow responsible for the mess we're in. I don't and never have thought Roy was fit for the role but I also thought it was time for Rafa to go.

 

I think the general point those that were extremely pro Rafa would argue is that the two actions, removal of Rafa, and who he's replaced with, can't be viewed completely in isolation.

 

You (anyone, not you in particular) may have, in normal circumstances, thought the manager should be sacked, but it was fairly clear he was going to be replaced by a vastly inferior one.

 

All completely irrelevant now of course. Yet we get an article like this once a week, and several a week from the gang of xenophobes in the press who are clinging onto the hope Hodgson is going to turn things around, as soon as he shakes off the last remains of evil Rafa's destruction of the club.

 

They all need to fuck off really.

 

As a great man once said, "he's gone, get over it".

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Unfortunately, two of those total fuckwits are currently playing in our team.

 

It's a rumour thats been going round, suppose truth will out eventually and if thats the case a lot of people will think of them differently than they do now.

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Unfortunately, two of those total fuckwits are currently playing in our team.

 

Fuckwits very disrespectful there mate considering nothing has been proven, its all rumours.

In saying that, there are definently questions to be answered. But referring to them like that is out of order.

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Guest ShoePiss
I think the general point those that were extremely pro Rafa would argue is that the two actions, removal of Rafa, and who he's replaced with, can't be viewed completely in isolation.

 

You (anyone, not you in particular) may have, in normal circumstances, thought the manager should be sacked, but it was fairly clear he was going to be replaced by a vastly inferior one.

 

All completely irrelevant now of course. Yet we get an article like this once a week, and several a week from the gang of xenophobes in the press who are clinging onto the hope Hodgson is going to turn things around, as soon as he shakes off the last remains of evil Rafa's destruction of the club.

 

They all need to fuck off really.

 

As a great man once said, "he's gone, get over it".

 

That's what I and others on here quietly said on this forum in the weeks/days leading up to him going. At that time shouters would say 'anyone would be better than Rafa'.

 

Good post, must admit I'm surprised at the level of good will Roy has with the national press. I knew he was a favourite of theirs but the level of support (and outright lies to support) are unprecedented.

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I think the main arguments are focused around the fact that Rafa supporters think that the ones who wanted him out actually support Roy and think he's better. And that the anti-Rafa brigade are somehow responsible for the mess we're in. I don't and never have thought Roy was fit for the role but I also thought it was time for Rafa to go.

 

There are also those like myself who foresaw what type of manager Liverpool would attract.

 

Like it or not the truth is a lot of the people banging the drum loudest for Rafa's dismissal were also the ones who believed we could still attract the best talent.

 

Maybe not the best reason to keep Rafa and certainly not my only reason, but what's happened since has been all too predictable.

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Guest PurpleNose
That's what I and others on here quietly said on this forum in the weeks/days leading up to him going. At that time shouters would say 'anyone would be better than Rafa'.

 

Good post, must admit I'm surprised at the level of good will Roy has with the national press. I knew he was a favourite of theirs but the level of support (and outright lies to support) are unprecedented.

 

I'm not surprised in the slightest.

 

The press hated Benitez. They loved the fact he was fucked off, and would have supported anyone who replaced him, whilst blaming any potential poor start for the new manager on Benitez. But they hit jackpot when he was replaced by an English manager. One less foreign manager is brilliant for the English press. They don't have to pretend to understand any of his funny methods anymore.

 

They'd much rather have 20 English managers in the Premier League. Every single article could just be about how much determination, desire, belief, blood, sweat and semen the players displayed, and everyone will play four four fucking two.

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We get rid of the two cancers who split our support for years, just as we see the end of the storm we now have Roy (like in that perfect storm film when they saw the light but was then replaced with darkness and a hundred foot wave), only at Liverpool, whats the expression YCNMIU.

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It's a sad story about Rafa. But we are in an awful predicament now, Roy has to go no matter how our next few results go. We need someone who can actually take us forward, who can attract top players, and has the tactical acumen to beat most teams in this league and is intelligent in the transfer market. Rafa ticked 3 out of these 4 boxes, ultimately his inconsistency in the transfer market was the making of him. Let's find someone who has a good balance of all of these. Manuel Pellegrini gets my vote.

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We get rid of the two cancers who split our support for years, just as we see the end of the storm we now have Roy (like in that perfect storm film when they saw the light but was then replaced with darkness and a hundred foot wave), only at Liverpool, whats the expression YCNMIU.

 

Haha I had to google it, for those like me it means you could never make it up.

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There are also those like myself who foresaw what type of manager Liverpool would attract.

 

Like it or not the truth is a lot of the people banging the drum loudest for Rafa's dismissal were also the ones who believed we could still attract the best talent.

 

Maybe not the best reason to keep Rafa and certainly not my only reason, but what's happened since has been all too predictable.

Benitez had to go, he was getting worse and worse as his obsession with the politics consumed him; that said i would rather he stayed than replace him with this motorway pile up.

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I think the main arguments are focused around the fact that Rafa supporters think that the ones who wanted him out actually support Roy and think he's better. And that the anti-Rafa brigade are somehow responsible for the mess we're in. I don't and never have thought Roy was fit for the role but I also thought it was time for Rafa to go.

 

As you say, the problem wasn't that benitez was sacked, it was the replacement that wasn't good enough.

 

You're letting yourselves off the hook too easily. The removal of Rafa and the arrival of Hodgson (or another manager of similar calibre) were NOT seperate events.

 

We had a manager with an excellent pedigree (2 La Liga's), and who had already achieved some great things with Liverpool (1 European Cup, 1 FA Cup, runners up in European Cup and League).

 

And more importantly, he had demonstrated a willingness to fight his corner in a screwed up club, where another manager of similar calibre would just have said "FUCK YOU" and walked off to another top club.

 

(seconds after he leaves Liverpool, the reigning European and Italian champions come knocking at his door)

 

The boo boys were told, time and again, that whatever his mistakes, force Rafa out now and his replacement would be nowhere near his pedigree. The boo boys were salivating over Mourinho (sickening), Hiddink, etc.

 

That was all a lie. You were lying to yourselves, and everyone else. In the pre-NESV climate, the ONLY type of manager we would have gotten to replace Rafa is exactly the type we HAVE gotten.

 

The boo boys were all told this, repeatedly. So they can't claim now that their hands are clean. They asked for it. They got it.

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