6 Feb 2009

Tony Cascarino: Rafael Benitez to blame for Robbie Keane's 'failure'

Finally, someone high profile in the media publicly slamming Rafael Benitez for his awful handling of Robbie Keane.

Two days ago I wrote an article criticising Rafael Benitez's treatment of Robbie Keane.

Cut the spin, Rafa. Robbie Keane 'failed' at Anfield because YOU stabbed him in the back

Today, former Celtic, Chelsea, Marseille and Republic of Ireland player Tony Cascarino has given his thoughts on 'The Telepgraph' website, and it seems that he and I are in total agreement over the Robbie Keane fiasco:

February 06, 2009

Cascarino: Rafael Benitez to blame for Robbie Keane's failure

Deflecting the blame. Everyone in football does it: players on to managers, managers on to chairmen, fans on to all three. And this week we've seen a perfect example as Rafael Benitez tried to lay the blame for Robbie Keane's failure at Anfield on the forward himself. The reality is that it's the Liverpool manager who got it spectacularly wrong.

It was scandalous to hear Benitez suggest that Keane wasn’t good enough for Liverpool and couldn’t stand the pressure. This is an experienced player, Ireland’s captain and top goalscorer, who went to Inter Milan as a kid and who was great for Spurs. It’s true that Keane didn’t perform but how could he when he was messed around, in and out of the team, switching positions but never in his best role, being dragged off early in games or put on the bench.

I’d like to ask Benitez how he ever saw Keane fitting into his side, what the original plan was. In hindsight he should have kept Peter Crouch. I never thought Keane could play alongside Fernando Torres, they just weren’t likely to gel. My thinking when the move was first announced was that Benitez wanted to emulate the movement of Manchester United’s forward line last season, where Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney interchanged and alternated. But that wasn’t the case because Keane was clearly told to stay on the left. And with Steven Gerrard bombing on to join Torres in the box, that made Keane even more redundant.

The manager’s attitude seemed to be: Keane doesn’t fit, so I won’t try and adapt the team or be more flexible, I’ll just leave him out. It’s a manager’s job, though, to get the best out of his players, to find a way to fit all the pieces in the puzzle – especially when they are as expensive and talented as Keane.

Benitez gave up on his £20 million man very quickly. But all players need to feel wanted. Robbie has always been confident but his self-belief will have been affected because his manager wasn’t making him feel welcome. Benitez is always distant and ruthless anyway. And at times over the years he’s hardly seemed enthusiastic about a player so critical as Steven Gerrard. He’s been lucky Gerrard hasn’t been more outspoken.

But his treatment of Keane went far beyond his normal coldness, he was practically disassociating himself from the striker from quite early in the season, blaming him for not performing. That will have been hard to take and can only have made his form worse. After only six months at the club he knew he had to leave. There was no choice: when a manager doesn’t want you, it’s time to go. Even with Liverpool in the title hunt and Champions League, there was no point in staying.

Will losing Robbie damage Liverpool’s title hopes? They’re not good enough to win it anyway. It will be costly because many Liverpool fans will not have liked the way Benitez treated Keane, and their admiration for the manager will lessen as a result. At 28, Keane still has three or four years at the top of the game and he will go on to be a good player for Spurs and score some important goals. His brief spell on Merseyside will be quickly forgotten.

But not by everyone. When the time comes for Benitez to leave Anfield and we all reflect on his reign, the way he failed to get the best out of Keane, and failed to treat him with respect, will be a big black mark against him. And perhaps it will contribute to his eventual downfall.


Amen to that.


  1. nice jump on the bandwagon their kanwar

  2. How is it jumping on the bandwagon? I wrote practically the same article a full *two days* before Tony Cascarino. I've highlighted the article because Cascarino is clearly right.

  3. The minute you start citing Cascarino in order to reinforce your opinion, you lose all credibility.

  4. We are not going to win the Premier League,are out of FA Cup (Worthless anyway),Hope Real Knock us out in CL so that Rafa can get the boot and go on to manage Real,but as a friend of mine(A Barca Fan) pointed out,Who is going to fire him?The club management is in a mess to say the least!

  5. It's a sad day when fans are calling the FA Cup worthless.

  6. I know this post is late but viva la rafalution!!!