Is Rafa Benitez About To Walk Alone?

Birmingham City v Liverpool 2009/10

So it seems the end is drawing close for Rafa Benitez at Anfield, with reports all over the place pointing to the Liverpool owners offering Benitez £3 million to leave immediately. Quite what has happened to bring Liverpool lurching in to another crisis so soon after the season has ended is unsure, but for me, he’s been under pressure ever since he guaranteed the club would finish 4th back in January.

That at the time looked a long shot as Liverpool huffed and puffed there way through turgid performance after turgid performance. Even the most biased Liverpool fans were unsure if it was attainable but come the May 9th, the club had crashed from almost winning the Premiership in 2008-2009, to almost not qualifying for Europe in 12 months. No doubt it was all Sir Alex Ferguson or referee’s fault. At the moment the Daily Mirror are claiming he’s actually been sacked, most of the other stories are saying he’s been asked to leave.

Premier League: Liverpool 4 v 1 Portsmouth

Now, I’ll be honest, I simply didn’t think the club would see sense and try to get rid of him. I’m sick of the apologists blaming the board for Liverpool’s problems. It’s a phony war, it doesn’t cover the fact that Benitez has spent so badly, so consistently over the 6 years he’s been at Anfield. Yes, the board are culpable for some of the problems, but it doesn’t cover the fact he has sold 34 of the 77 players he has signed. Almost half, that is a frightening amount, that is probably the worst turn over of a manager at a club in the modern era.

The club are not in a position to sack him due to the financial situation, Gerrard and Torres are being linked with clubs, Mascherano wants to leave for family reasons, Benayoun is on the verge of joining Chelsea. Transfer targets have now had to be downgraded from Champions League players to Europe League targets. Yet for all that, people still go on about that night in Istanbul. 5 years ago. Or winning the F.A. Cup on penalties against a newly promoted West Ham side. 4 years ago.

Liverpool press conference

This is a club on the edge of the precipice, financially and football wise. Last summer I wrote that Aston Villa had more chance of winning the Premiership than Liverpool and was roundly castigated by Reds fans who thought I meant Villa would win the league. I didn’t, I meant Aston Villa had more chance of winning the Premiership than Liverpool. As it turned out, they finished higher in the table but neither of them had a chance of troubling the top end of the table.I just thought Liverpool had no chance of winning the title.

This is a manager who sold Liverpool’s best prospect in years, Stephen Warnock to Blackburn and then replaced him with abysmal left back after abysmal left back. Warnock’s career has continued to blossom since his departure and is developing in to one of the leagues best left backs. This is a manager who spent the summer of 2008 trying to flog Xabi Alonso and then whined all summer 2009 when Alonso told him he wanted to leave. Then replaced him with an injury prone midfielder who he then seemed to fall out with. Outstanding.

Sports News - February 15, 2010

The only people I imagine who will be sad to see Benitez go are anyone who supports anyone else in the top eight. Of course there will be plenty of Liverpool fans, still blinded by the amazing comeback in 2005, unable to see just how far the club have fallen since that night who will be distraught. I don’t understand it. If Liverpool had won the league in 2008-2009, for me they would have been the worst Premiership title winners since the league started in 1992 and probably the worst league winners in nearly 30 years since Villa won it in 1981.

I won’t fall into this trap of speculating who’ll replace him, but I don’t doubt CV’s will be whizzing themselves to Anfield as we speak. I doubt anyone else, apart from Graeme Souness, could make a worse job of it than Benitez has the last 4 seasons, 2008-09’s second place excluded. The added bonus is the club have Kenny Dalglish there to steady the ship in the current climate and that alone will make sure the club will move onwards away from Benitez’s dire tactics and referee baiting.

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18 thoughts on “Is Rafa Benitez About To Walk Alone?”

  1. You do also have to give the board some credit for (one year ago) signing him to a new contract with which he can extort LFC to the tune of £16 million

    1. Indeed Scott, that’s probably the best bit of business he’s done in the 6 years he’s been at Anfield, apart from getting someone to buy Milan Baros.

      1. don’t forget istanbul. give credit where credit is due. by the way im a man u fan but that was a game for the ages.

  2. couldn’t disagree more with your article. One of your main points is that Benitez “sold one of Liverpool’s best prospects in years” in Warnock. Really? At the time
    Warnock was trash, and he isn’t much better now. He would be damned either way really – If he had held onto a crummy prospect for this long, this blog (and others) would rightly criticize him for holding onto deadweight.

    Look back at the team Benitez inherited. Look at the 2005 CL winning squad. It really isn’t that impressive. What players should he have held onto from that bunch?

    “I doubt anyone else, apart from Graeme Souness, could make a worse job of it than Benitez has the last 4 seasons, 2008-09’s second place excluded.” WTF!! Oh Benitez has just done horrible. One CL final. 2 other CL semis. The best league finish in 20 years. The only 3 managers to have better records during this period are Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson, and Ancelotti. Where are the articles slamming Wenger?

    1. Loch, in fairness to Paul, Rafa is the talk of the moment. If you comb through the articles on EPL Talk, you’ll find plenty of stories slamming Wenger. Nice try to change the topic!

      The Gaffer

      1. Fair point, but I doubt that anyone has made this sort of hyperbole before: I doubt anyone else, apart from (insert prior poor manager), could make a worse job of it than (insert person to be bashed) has the last 4 seasons, (best finish in 20 years excluded).”

        This may be doom and gloom, but we will not hire a manager with the skill and expertise of Benitez, and the years to come will be even worse.

  3. (last post on this subject as I am sure I am not going to change anyone’s mind)

    I don’t disagree that it might be time for Benitez to leave Liverpool. I don’t disagree that he has had made mistakes and that his record in the PL has not been very good. I don’t disagree that he has made mistakes in the transfer market (Dossenna, Voronin, etc.)

    I just think this article is over the top and the writer loses credibility with some of his accusations made within. But turning Benitez into some incompetent nincompoop isn’t accurate or fair. And simply ignoring the best league finish in 20 years isn’t either.

    All that said, I hope he takes the 3m and leaves. He is fairly entitled to the full 16m, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him take less. Perhaps some time off would suit he and his family well. Taking the Inter job doesn’t seem like a good idea either – there would be no way to do any better than Mourinho and fans would only be upset if he didn’t win another CL.

  4. Poorly written and cheap…even when it’s set up on a platter, and you spout about “not falling into a trap” of speculating about who may replace him, your inability to move beyond “probably” and “seemed to” make it no better than News of the World.

  5. He’s left the club:

    I don’t think he’s been as poor as you are suggesting, Paul. Then again, I am most definitely biased.

    The change in manager could also have a huge effect on Liverpool retaining Torres and Gerrard. If the players see this is further evidence of the downward spiral, it could be the tipping point to see them leave. However, they could see this is a good sign of things to come and decide to stay.

    I think Torres will be much more likely to leave due to Rafa’s departure and Gerrard much more likely to stay.

    I will also freely fall into the trap of speculating. Martin O’Neil is the only one that has been “linked” and I feel would do a decent job. Until we find the best man, King Kenny will be more than capable of keeping the side going.

  6. From some accounts it was Torres and Gerrard who forced the boards hand by telling them they’d lost faith in him.

  7. Yet another internet ego who needs feeding.

    What a pathetic cheap shot.

    You are yet another one who has absolutely NO UNDERSTANDING of what has been going on at Anfield over the last 3 seasons.

    A manager who has been given NO TRANSFER KITTY in the last 4 transfer windows.

    A manager who has had to manage politics with league/cup/European campaigns over 3 seasons.

    A manager who wasn’t sacked for footballing reasons.

    Players who will now probably leave BECAUSE the manager has been sacked.

    Steven Warnock couldn’t get in the team ahead of Djimi Traore.

    If he is blossoming into the best left back in the league how come Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Man City or Spurs haven’t of didn’t show interest in him. the giants of Europe – were they sniffing around him??

    To even try and compare the Souness era with the Benitez era shows you up for what you are.

    You’d be better off writing for The S** with shite like that.

  8. He is a solid coach that made a LOT of transfer mistakes and never really got the youth program up and running

    He also cried way too much about the owners when he did in fact have money (as evident by how much he spent) to get players

  9. “From some accounts it was Torres and Gerrard who forced the boards hand by telling them they’d lost faith in him.”

    Whatever “accounts” these are have only been selected to try to strengthen your own argument. You’re clearly ignoring the other “accounts,” surely communicated in morse code and in back alley transactions, that had the same players singing the former manager’s praises.

    Come on Gaffer, reign in the tabloidism a bit.

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