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A lot of Liverpool fans have been blaming Rafael Benitez, the club’s manager for not having won enough silverware in the past few seasons. Last Saturday’s loss to Sunderland was the club’s 4th loss and the last straw for them. Now, the fans have been gunning for him and asking for a change of manager. They feel Rafa Benitez has not been delivering and it’s time he found work elsewhere. They blame his team-selection, tactics and activity in the transfer market for Liverpool trailing 7 points behind leaders Manchester United on the League Table. What is interesting is that just a few weeks ago, Cesare Prandelli a former football player and the current football coach of ACF Fiorentina, praised Rafael Benítez the manager of Liverpool FC. The Italian Cesare said Benitez was his “role model” for “the way he organises the team and the dressing room”. Liverpool fans having probably spent their Sunday puncturing, kicking and knifing all beach-balls in town without much relief from the pain of the loss. They seem to have decided that it is, in fact, most definitely Rafa Benitez who is to blame for the poor performance. Now, being a Chelsea fan, and having experienced the pain of a loss myself on saturday, I know how much it hurts and how easy it is to ask for a replacement of the manager. Here are some of the things I think we should consider before we ask for Rafael Benitez to pack his bags.
1. The loss at Sunderland was a terribly unlucky. I am not saying that Liverpool played very well but it also can’t be ignored that their was only one goal scored in the match. (by a beach-ball)
2. Last year Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool lost fewer games than the Premier League Champions Manchester United. They finished 2nd on the League Table. (call me daft, but that doesn’t sound like a terribly bad result to me)
3. Rafael Benitez, in his very first season at the club in 2005 won the Champions League with a very average team. Just to put that in perpective, Chelsea haven’t won it yet despite having super-stars in the team and changing managers more often than Cristiano Ronaldo demands a penalty.
4. Rafael Benitez comes with a formidable track record. He won the La Liga with Mestalla in the very first season. The club hadn’t won the league in 30 years and he also won the UEFA cup with them. I don’t think 5 years is enough for Liverpool fans to cry drought. Consider, how much time it took for Sir Alex to win some silverware for Manchester United and just imagine how it could have turned out, had the management at Manchester United sacked Sir Alex in those early years. (sigh…if only that would have happened and then Chelsea would have swept in and signed him. Fairies would have danced, chocolates would have grown on trees and in that perfect world we would have all lived happily.
5. Rafael Benitez with his resume can get any job he wants. A high paying-low pressure job where the owners of the club aren’t bumbling idiots fighting and contradicting each other every step of the way. But I think Rafa Benitez really cares and believes in the great legacy of Liverpool . Isn’t that what every club should be wishing for, a manager who truly loves the club like a fan? I can’t forget the way the ridiculous owners of Liverpool tried replacing Benitez with Klinsmann, it was in every newspaper and one can only imagine how humiliating and hurtful it must have been for this great manager. I don’t think anyone could have blamed him for walking out on the club at that time but he stayed. I also can’t think of any top manager who would be willing to take the job at Liverpool which right now, comes with the boardroom circus and the clown owners.
Many fans seem to think that Benitez hasn’t been good in the transfer market and that he has had a lot of money to spend and has not spent it well. I know I was mad when he sold Alonso, but I don’t think we should judge that transfer just yet since, the replacement he bought Aquilani is still to play.
I am not saying that Benitez is always right. He has made his mistakes in the past with tactics and team-selection, just like any other manager. Even Sir Alex the great, messed up his strategy in the Champions League Final against Barcelona. Managers are human after all. All I am saying is that we as fans, tend to be a little too emotional about our clubs (it is our prerogative) but when someone like Cesare, a real professional, definitely more qualified in the ways of football, says he looks up to Rafael Benitez, we are definitely being too hasty in our judgement and need to take a closer, less fanatic and more level-headed view of the situation.
Liverpool play Lyon in the Champions League mid-week and Manchester United on Sunday. Their top players Gerrard and Torres are both injured. I hope for Liverpool and for Rafa that they are fit to start against Manchester United over the weekend for it seems like this will be the ‘make or break’ week for Liverpool’s title hopes.