1 Nov 2009

Rafa Benitez: He hasn’t got a clue...has he?

If you believe what you hear - and what you saw against Fulham - you’ll probably believe the wolves are at the door for Señor Benitez. However, I’ll try to put things in perspective without using an array of cringe-worthy Halloween puns.

What happened against Fulham was a disaster, and a game we shouldn’t have lost going into. It was supposed to be the continuation of a blinding run where we brush aside the opposition and march to the top of the table; it was supposed to keep the media hounds and kneejerk fans at bay. Unfortunately, for those of us who support Rafa, it was everything we didn’t want.

Over the last few years I’ve become increasingly adept at taking defeats on the chin. I try not to let the emotion of the occasion overwhelm me and I try to see things as an outsider looking in.

What I see is a team struggling with everything from form to injuries to ability. The squad we have currently is probably better than the squad that had people drooling at the mouth last year as we swept aside Madrid, United and Aston Villa with ease. At the moment however, the team we’re putting out isn’t better than last years usual team.

You don’t have to be a genius to see that this season our major flaw is our consistency. Last year they said “you need to top the draws”, so we haven’t drew. “You drop too many points at home” so we’ve battered the teams we drew against last year. The team has gone through massive changes, as has the club structure. Changes breed inconsistency.

We’ve had changes throughout the hierarchy of the club with Dalglish, Purslow and Ayres rising to important positions, Rafa also had changes to his contract which gave him more power. Xabi Alonso left among others, and we made two important 1st team signings (Both whom didn’t play this evening) in Johnson and Aquilani, among other squad reinforcements.

The major changes unfortunately, are unforeseen and come week in week out in the form of injuries. I can only imagine our treatment room at the moment resembling a terrorist attack, bodies strewn across the tables. We don’t have unlimited physio resources and I’m worried that injured players aren’t getting the best out of the physio’s because of overloading.

Anyway, back to the changes. The constant chopping of the team is showing itself in our results on the pitch. With players being injured so much and missing training, it must be hard for the team to train together consistently and then display that on the pitch. Especially with the international breaks disrupting things.

Steven Gerrard apart (who looks doomed for a year of frustration), the majority of our players seem on the cusp of things and close to a general return, including the much anticipated Alberto Aquilani. I hope that once we start to get people out of the doctors and onto the training pitch, things will start to click on match day.

I realise Liverpool aren’t the only team with problems, Everton for example have been struggling to get 11 senior players on the pitch, as have a few others in the Premiership. Getting consistency on the pitch though does have it’s affect, whether you see it as an excuse or not.

Arsenal and Chelsea have had relatively consistent teams since the start of the season and that’s showing dividends for them. United have had troubles, but their squad is much larger and more expensive than ours (despite what some would have you believe).

Regardless of injuries and excuses though, we do have only ourselves to blame. I think we have too many leaks in our team that require plugging. Insua, although potentially a quality addition, needs a rest. He’s often exposed, especially when tracking back and I think we really need better cover in there for the crocked Aurelio.

Torres as we know needs better back up. Babel isn’t cutting it, Riera never lived up to his promise and Voronin couldn’t buy a goal. January is looking important for Benitez as we really do need better options, who we buy though is anyones guess.

The two man team jibe is offensive to the rest of the team and it’s ridiculous to accuse us of that. It just so happens that our two best players have struggled with injury over the last year, any team would miss Gerrard and Torres.

I think the pundits who throw that at Liverpool are lazy in their analysis, there are much deeper and complicated issues surrounding Liverpool’s recent form than ‘Torres never played’.

Torres has been carrying an injury for the last 2 weeks and is unable to complete a 90 minute game. From where I was watching the game, it seemed as though people thought it was more important to risk Torres long term than try and solve his injury problems.

The main problem of course is patience, will the fans give Rafa and his squad the time? I hope so, we’re currently in our worst run of form since Rafa started his Liverpool tenure.

With the midweek game against Lyon to come, I don’t want to say ‘things can only get better’ as that would be a bit of a fib, but we must keep our heads focused on the long run.

It may be hard to see the light though when a few fans infront of me watching the game were lambasting Rafa for playing ‘that new £20m lad Aquilani at centre back’, who then went on to state ‘I don’t think he’s worth £20m, he’s only good for heading the ball’.

Therein lies the fickleness of football; and it's at times like that I have to wonder why I follow football.

Arsenal are being lauded as flying high, Liverpool as down in the dumps. The difference between us in the league?

4 points.

That’s the apparent difference between a man staring down the barrel and a man wandering in the stars.

Chris Severs


  1. another deluded " i love Rafa and worship the ground he walks on " wake up and smeel the coffee. He is the problem, no progress under him, he won trophies with Houllier signings, now that the squad is all his (Gerrard and Carragher apart) we have done nothing, we are rubbish 6 defeats in 7, i have been a season ticket holder for over 50 years home and away league and cup,  always excuses excuses excuses   sorry fat spanish waiter, time to quit, its such a joke that rival teams are laughing and hope he stays   please please please quit

  2. Arsenal fan in peace -
    Well written article, and I agree with a lot of what you say.
    However, the team you had last season was far better - not just because of Alonso, but because Mascherano, Carragher, Skrtel etc. were all playing much better.
    And I know enough Liverpool fans to know that the majority of them are more dismayed with the performances than the league position. As an Arsenal fan, our points tally isnt much better than last season, but the performances and player development this season have put us in a positive mood.
    In summary, I think Liverpool have the foundations of a great first team, assuming Carragher/Skrtel rediscover their form. Its time the owners made their decision - if Rafa stays, he must be given funds. And he must be more careful with the money if he gets it in January. A few decent squad additions could see Liverpool go on a run, quite easily in my opinion.
    Always had a soft spot for Liverpool (in-laws give me no choice!) and wish you the very best for the rest of the season. Dont listen to the media doom-mongers, continue to support your team, and you will reap the rewards.

  3. well, well, well look whats happened? he has lost again... why the hell does he not learn from his mistakes(sorry for the language but he never learns!), he plays players where they shouldn't, plays players who are crap e.g voronin instead of babel and how he can buy voronin and degen for free but not owen typical benitez, stubborness and stupidity! VORONIN for petes sake, Degen is ok but Owen Or Degen who would you have? Team against lyon this has to be picked:


  4. <span>The main problem of course is patience, will the fans give Rafa and his squad the time?</span>

    Gave him 5 years and he's yet to win the title. This season looks to be no different. Liverpool fans have been incredibly patient, maybe even too patient. He wouldn't have lasted this long at any other top-4 side.

  5. I'm sorry have supported Rafa in the past, but their has to come a time when the realisation that we will never progress under him must hit home.

    He has had five seasons now and umpteen millions to spend on the squad and apart from a european cup in his first season, has not acheived, it all looks alot like the houllier scenario over again..

    did someone say Mourinho???

  6. The most annoying point from yesterdays fulham game was that rafa yet again had one eye on the midweek champions league game, how many times does he have to do this and come unstuck before he realises that it may work for other teams but it does not for us at this moment cos we dont have a strong enougth squad/second squad.

    Ngog should have started up front with torres yesterday, voronin should have been no where near the pitch.  I am NOT a rafa hater but the man is too stubborn for his own good and one day it will get him sacked!!

  7. Excellent article and I agree with pretty much all you have written.

    We must find consistency quickly otherwise this season will be over very quickly. I wouldn't even want to think about the longer term implications of not qualifying for the CL.

    We do have a pretty serious injury problem and realistically that has to be acknowledged. United struggled to even get hold of the ball against us because they didn't have Hargreaves or Fletcher. We have a whole list of players. The truth of the matter is we have a team which can beat anyone in the world. We don't have the squad.

    The one weakness of Rafa though to bring some balance is that I'm not sure how adept to motivating a team he is. When you're team is on the floor you need someone who can pick them up. Houllier was more of a 'arms round the shoulder' man manager and that may be needed at the moment. Don't get me wrong Rafa is better at everything else than Houllier and to be honest if we got rid, who would we get?

  8. Chris, sad to see the loads of utterly biased pro-rafa arguments. That 4 point differential between ARS & LFC is due to a one-game difference. Taking this into consideration, it's 7 PTS IN JUST 11 GAMES. It's nice that you talk about injuries. And your argument seems to be that it was ALL out of Rafa control / not Rafa's fault? Well, who made the decision to buy the injured crock to replace your best passer last year? And SG, well, if you had not lost to the #9 ranked team in Serie A or had managed to earn a draw against Sunderland, would you have had the desperate need to rush SG back for the Lyon game?  The thing is Rafa dug himself in a big big hole and relied on his star players to bail him out. Sometimes it worked (e.g. FT for MU) and sometimes you backfired (SG). Oh, why didn't you mention 2 of Rafa's recent bizzare subsitutions of YB against Lyon and Ful, and this did not contributed to the horrendous run? And why did you not mention that BOTH MU & ARS are also working on a transfer surplus position this year JUST LIKE RAFA. The only difference is that they bought quality AND HEALTHY replacements like Valencia / Vermealon / Owen as opposed to injured AA? And. of course, when you made fatal transfer blunders like Keane / Dossena last year you know your team is as thin as Rafa's.
    You are of course entitled to your patience and, to be more exact, blind faith on Rafa. But unfortunately, other key players (March / Reina / Torres) might not and would make their own decisions having seen no changes by maangement in stopping the distratrous season to continue.

  9. Good article mate. Rafa is a top manager and lot of uneducated fans are getting on his back. We have too many injuries at the moment and players out of form. People have forgotten how well Liverpool did last season. Rafa has made us a force in the champions league and title contenders. This season hasn't started well and if the owners had their way we would have klinsmann in charge? U have to be careful what u wish for? Just ask Newcastle !!

  10. Great article. People really need to remember how decimated our squad is at the moment, we're seriously struggling without Gerrard in the team for players to look to, and someone with the inspirational touches of Aquilani, assuming his 15-minute cameo was a fair assessment of his skill.

    We're also very low on confidence, and attempting to claw it back without so many key players is a hard task. I don't think it's fair to blame Rafa unless he has his full complement of players available, and even though he did make two strange subs yesterday it's important to remember that A) he has the benefit of working with the player behind the scenes, and advice from the physios and B) there's no guarantee we would have scored had Torres and Bennie stayed on.

    A gutting, dissapointing defeat, and perhaps the league is beyond us this season now, but in such a season when luck and injuries have been so squarely against us we should more readily look to blame these factors than the manager.

  11. Alot of fans may dislike my points but these are my honest opinons.

    Problems with team:

    Poor defence! Carragher decline and having confidence crisis and being exposed due to new partnerships. Liverpools new expansive attacking style isn't helping him. Used to being shielded by older defensive systems we played in and also the withdrawn defensive line we used to play with. More opponents have sussed him out. Watching a variety of quicker attackers getting goal side of him more frequently. Big challenge is that Carraghers not going to get more quicker and we may have to consider relegating him to 3rd choice promoting Skrtel and Agger to the first choice pairing.

    Lack of quality cover for Torres!

    Benitez needs money at x-mas at the very least to sign up a quality back up player with pace and power to act as a  contingency. Unfortunately voronin and babel are not consistent enough and lack the quality! 


    Reliance on him has to stop!! Gerrard is likely to need the opperation! Or a major layoff!!
    Said this two weeks back on a variety of sites LFC like CFC need to start planning for life after our talisman it's inevitable Lampard and Gerrards powers are likely to start wane in the next 18 months! Gerrards game relies very heavily on pace and power and he will become more suceptable to injuries if he continues his career in the Uk over the next 18 months. He will either need to adapt his game over time or move abroad. The premiership is the best league in the world but because of the pace and demand very few dynamic attackers/offensive players can continue at this level once they hit the 30+ bracket. At the same time we need to be looking ahead for Gerrards replacement during this period as it's likely he will pick up a high percentage of injuries during this stage if his career.

    Unless we can develop a player inhouse or sign convert an existing playmaker to take on this role we face a huge challenge.  My thinking is that Aqualani has been signed to tackle this challenge in mind. However we are going to have to sign at least one major midfielder in the next 18 months! This is on the proviso If Mach  stays but realistically I think Mach will be off in 18 months!  

    Lack of quality throughout the next 11

    I watched CFC with me uncle at the bridge on Wednesday and despite my dislike for them. I admire CFC strength and quality in depth! Unfortunately for LFC too many of our next 11 are sub standard. I don't know who takes the blame for this but after 5 years we have seen an improvement of the first 11. However to win the league title we need a squad of 22! Where's  the competition for places in our squad? Most of our first 11 pick themselves and this will ultimately need to complacency! Mourinho and Fergie talk about competition for each position regardless of reputation. So it's either the question of a number of these players rising to the challenge or more juniors making the grade quickly or major transfer repair surgery! 

    Babel voronin, degen, nabil, plessis and host of others need to be sold!

    Left wing issue:

    Riera had a solid season last year but injuries and a loss of form and uncertainty have effected him. I am still not sure he is the option to strike fear into opponents. LFC need a viable natural option on this side benayoun is not the answer nor babel neither these option are naturally left footed and their games are limited when thrusted in this role. Benitez needs a Silva or a player like Matta for this position to create challenge for opponents and also to create competition for this role inhouse!

    Problem at left back!

    Despite insua showing promise he lacks defensive discipline his tactical awareness is very poor he will get better but he's a little too raw! Need to [...]

  12. I believe Liverpool will storm into good form as soon as we get a team out that Rafa would say is his best 11, yes it's a nightmare just now but do we just roll over and die?, no chance. There ia always light at the end of the tunnel, hopefully our problems will be over soon and other teams will have their own.

  13. DO you seriously think it was Rafa's fault ....Don't you think if we had defended well like we did against ManU ..we could have won modestly 1-0. 

    I never doubt our scoring ability ...but it is our sluggish defense that has to be blamed . I don't think Fulham deserved any of those 3 goals.

  14. This is what i think is financially doable.


    Voro- 2 mill
    Riera- 7 mill
    Doss- 4 mill
    Ja funds - 12 mill


    Suarez- babel + 9 mill ( This may mean or suarez= babel + riera + voronin)
    Pandev - 6 mill ( In return for Dossena almost)
    Shawcross/ Cahill - 10 mill ( Jan funds, Carra is finished)

    But with our owners having applied a pseudo salary cap on LFC, it will probably not happen. 

    I know this means Suarez will actually cost 20 mill. 

    Your thoughts on them.

  15. Honestly, ppl. Over 5 years Rafa has been on Merseyside to make LFC his own team. Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester Utd can all field reserves teams that have a good chance of winning some games in the league but Liverpool plays their reserves week in, week out becausem Rafa has spent money unwisely.  How is this NOT his fault?  He was even given a hint in how to buy good players when Parry bought Robbie Keane for him but he managed to screw that up.  He should go.

  16. Words from my brother (from an earlier conversation) when I said something along your lines. His reply I have to say I now agree with.

    <span>"in terms of Rafa's record in the transfer market, if we look at his major signings (8-figures)...

    Torres - SUCCESS
    Mascherano - SUCCESS
    Alonso - SUCCESS<span>
    Kuyt (though some say that deal was 9million) - SUCCESS
    Johnson - SUCCESS (so far)

    Obviously we don't know about Aquilani.

    The only failures have been Babel and Keane. In terms of Keane, that was a mistake and was quickly fixed, so no harm, no foul. Babel is a strange one. There was a lot of hype around him - that whole summer he seemed nailed-on to go to Arsenal (God I wish they'd taken him). There's no doubting that the raw materials are there, but the guy IS useless - so I guess Rafa does have to hold his hands up on that one. But it should be noted that if Rafa had gotten any of his targets from beforehand, Babel would have never come here. We tried to get Simao under Moore/Parry, but it collapsed over money. We tried to get Dani Alves (okay, a full-back but he can play as a winger) before he was valued in the 25million bracket. At the time we wouldn't pay Sevilla over the 10million we were offering, the deal collapsed. We had a deal IN PLACE for Florent Malouda the summer we signed Babel, but Parry dragged his heels and Mourinho took him off our hands (much as Fergie did with Vidic). Whatever you think of Malouda as a player or a haircut, he was the guy Rafa WANTED. We fucked up the deal, and ended up going for Babel last minute instead.

    Beyond the 10million+ players, it's naturally gonna be hit and miss. But we signed the likes of Reina, Agger, Skrtel, Benayoun, Crouch, Luis Garcia and Riera for 5-7million each. The players that didn't work out - Morientes, Bellamy, Pennant, Gonzalez - all had varying contributions, but we didn't lose loads of money on them as we tended to with Houllier's iffy imports (Salif Diao, anyone?). Lucas might not be everyone's cup of tea, but he's a solid squad member for me who'll do a job, not a first-choice. We bought Scott Carson for 750,000 and sold him for 3.5million. The free transfers may not have worked out, Aurelio aside, but that's the level we've been shopping at to pad the squad out - Voronin, Degen, Zenden (did a job, at least), Pellegrino (more for experience and to help the squad learn zonal marking in Rafa's first season). Put it this way, how many Bosmans do United take, Michael Owen aside?"

  17. and may i know, who made e decisions?

    who manage e defenders and supposedly to motivate them?

    and who's e manager widely criticized for treating his players like an aloof father?

    mourinho, for all his weakness tactically, is a wonderful motivator. that's essential in a physical and pacey league like EPL.

  18. Exactly.  Whoever is on the pitch, it is Benitez's job to motivate and organise them.  8 defeats in 15 games this season suggests there is a problem in that department.

  19. Yes, Rafa is far from being a great motivator. People like Bellamy and crouch are playing well under different managers. The problem, I feel, is Benitez views football only in strict technical and tactical terms than realising that it is a game played by humans and needs techniques and tactics to support them. 

  20. your deluded to then mate, better not blame Rafa eh, he is god, so so sorry for suggesting it was his fault.
    Torres off after an hour because benitez prioritises europe, benayoun taken off again, and Voronin stays on, why has he even let Babel put the great shirt on

    Virus my arse, thats his excuse to keep players fresh for his prioritised competition

  21. This is so frustrating, i can not believe Benitez is still the Liverpool manager, it annoys me that they people blame the americans, yes they have not delivered on promises but they have always given rafa the money, the money is there to spend they just wont let him spend it anymore because he will only go and sign rubbish foreigners,

  22. It's a well known FACT that a number of people make large amounts of money from transfer deals. Apart from the clubs themselves there are agents, players of course and YES, even managers. If people do not believe that they are simply being naive.

    The more transfer deals that are done, the more money is made...some of it under the table. There's no evidence of any wrongdoing BUT is it suspicious that Benitez has had nearly 150 players coming and going during his 5 years at Anfield?

    Just a thought!

  23. That is funny if you support Rafa you are deluded, but if you slag him off you know what you are talking about. You never walk alone, you wouldn't think so. Supporters only support when things are going smoothly. Yes Rafa as made mistakes  but who hasn't. Who would you bring in to replace Martin O'Neill! don't make me laugh,

  24. Im sorry but take out Torres, Reina & Allonso, what has he done with the money. Still no decent forwards, a creative shy mid field and the defence is a joke! If we had  no Carra or Stevie G where would he have been over the last five years. Time to go

  25. In the current squad - Mascherano, Kuyt, Reina, Agger, Skrtel, Aurelio, Aquilani and Benayoun

    I agree that we need another forward and more creativity in midfield, although Aquilani will hopefully fill that requirement. There have been good signings made though!

  26. I'm sorry, I have been critical of Rafa's tactics for a number of games this season, but this whole thing about motivating players etc. is such a load of tripe. How is it that both Bellamy and Riise performed so well in a must win game against Barca after having a training ground bust-up midweek? How is it that Fernando Torres almost doubled his goal tally after coming to Liverpool, and has only gotten better since? How is it that Javier Mascherano, who was rotting on the bench at West Ham has developed into arguably the best DM in the world? How is it that our team won or saved EIGHT games in the last 5 minutes or so last year (Sunderland, Boro, Man City, Wigan, Chelsea, Pompey, Arsenal, Fulham)? How is it that we came back against both West Ham and Milan in vital cup finals? 

    If you want to blame the manager, blame him for the right things. I thought he got a number of tactical selections wrong, but look at the number of injured/sick players. Our injured team was better than the main team on paper - Cavilieri, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Aurelio, El-Zhar, Gerrard, Aqui, Riera, N'Gog. Now for that you can say we should have addressed squad depth in the off-season, and for that Rafa must take blame, but when you have 5 starters missing, and sooo many changes in defence, it becomes impossible for the team to maintain any kind of consistency.

    By the way, Jaimie, your favourite journo, Tony Barrett had something to say about Rafa's treatment of players and how it compares to your idol.

    <span>At various times in recent weeks Rafael Benitez has refused to talk to Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Alberto Aquilani.

    The reason for the Liverpool manager’s coldness towards four of his biggest names? They have all been injured and unable to play for his team at a time when Benitez needed them badly.

    The quartet have been made to feel like lepers at Melwood. Shunned by the very person who is supposed to inspire them, at one stage they became so isolated that they were afraid to have normal, everyday conversations with their team mates for fear of being caught doing so by Benitez.

    The situation became so bad that Johnson invented a nickname for the group to illustrate their outcast status. The so-called “b***ard club” was formed and the only requirement for entry was an injury that made playing for Liverpool temporary impossible.

    How could a manager be so cruel to his players? How could he be so cold that he would ignore them at a time when their health and wellbeing should have been uppermost in his thoughts? Well, in actual fact, Benitez wasn’t. The above is a work of fiction but change the names involved to Bill Shankly, Ian St John, Ron Yeats, Chris Lawler and Gerry Byrne and the story is made true.</span>

  27. I'm sorry I don't agree with you at all. Let's look at your list for a moment, shall we. Mascherano is indeed proven quality, however given the players lack of motivation this season as well as the fact that he seemingly already has one foot out of the door (to Barcelona) and the fact that without Alonso, his limitations have been starkly exposed - that's a half-point at best. Kuyt, I'll get back to him in a sec, but needless to say, he doesn't qualify. Reina I'll agree with, if only it's becoming abundandtly clear that he's been covering for a lot of the defense's weaknesses. Agger, is also quality.........when he IS fit - which has been less often than not, at his time at Liverpool, I'm sorry to say. Skrtel  has a great first season last year as the replacement to Hyppia, but despite his relative youth and much lauded toughness, has had a terrible second season thus far, being horribly exposed for lacking all the field or tactical awareness, and the general football intelligence that Hyppia had in abundance that allowed him to contend with forwards far younger and fast than him, over his year at Liverpool. So the jury is out on him at the moment. Aurelio, like Agger, has been class when he's on the pitch, but unfortunately has spent more time on the physio's bench injured than on the field playing. We can't really grade Aquilani yet, because he's yet to play a full proper game at Liverpool - but the fact that he's been injured for almost a quarter of the season thus far still falls to Benitez for buying an injured player. Benayoun, of all the player you mentioned, (other than Reina) is indeed the cream of the crop and the one that can be counted as a good Benitez buy.

    As for your claim that we need another forward, wait a minute, what is Kuyt's role in the team again? Didn't we buy him as a forward, despite the fact that Rafa plays him on the wing now, and doesn' he nonetheless deputise or cover for Torres when  Torres is not playing - by playing up front as a lone striker?  Oh yeah, that's right - he can't score goals - despite the fact that he's a striker. Even sitters, They have to be laid out to him like a bad rebound off the goalkeeper or the post in order for him to score. Running around a lot and not scoring goals when you are a striker does not a good player make you. People have been praising this guy for years, as a good  hard worker all the time forgetting that he doesn't do the one thing he was brought into Liverpool to do - which is score goals - not run around putting in good work . All this talk about a second striker and support for Torres would be a moot point if only this character earned his millions by scoring goals. He is NOT a good striker - not even close.

  28. <span>

    <span>mcdonaldtaf. I don't see your logic behind your analysis in PURELY looking at Rafa's buy at >10Mil. If Rafa could only have success in buying player at 10Mil, they should have asked to buy less players at <10Mil. I know resources are limited @ LFC but still Rafa could have asked to buy more >10mil players and less <10mil players. I.e. give up on buying lucas + dossena and buy one of Arashavin or Modric instead if you’d know what I mean. I don’t think any owners will have any problems in approving these changes so long as these deals fit the total budget. </span>
    <span>And you also mention about Rafa missing top targets because PARRY was not doing their job or because LFC did not have the $.<span>  </span>First of all, you mentioned the names (Simao / Malouda / Alves) LFC have missed, but you did NOT mention the names (SG / FT) who are willing to play for LFC even when more lucrative offers were available elsewhere. And on Rick Parry, of course he was not one of the most competent and easy-going CEO to work with. But is it ALL his fault? Consider this: You often hear about managers complaining against owners for not giving them enough $ to buy players, etc., but how many times have you heard of managers complaining that their CEO / owners DID offer $ to buy players, BUT they were NOT buying the players the manager wanted? Not even Keegan (vs. Dennis wise) or Roy Keane (vs. Neil Quinn) or J Mourinho (vs. RA) had made these comments despite their strained relationships with the owners / CEO. So you’d say that’s Parry problem, not Rafa, right? How about Rafa’s days @ Valencia? He made EXACTLY THE SAME complaints against the previous owners / CEO. So was this coincidence again? The way I see it is, while you might disagree, is Rafa has not been able to build good relationship with owners / CEO like SAF or Wenger did. But isn’t this is the most important success factor as a manager, or for that matter, ANY organizations in the world outside football?<span>  </span>The lack of such qualities means you will not be very successful in ANY organizations despite all the superb technical / tactical skills you are endowed with like Rafa. Same applies to his handling of players. Rafa is good at motivating star players like SG / FT, but is not good enough in doing the same for fringe players (Babel / YB) like SAF / AW do (e.g. JS Park / Fletcher / ). If I were Babel / YB, I would be totally confused with what Rafa want me to do considering the weird player selections / substitutions. </span>


  29. and Chris, you have the guts to put up all those flawed arguments, but don't have the guts to answer my counter arguments?  You should learn from your colleague Jamie. At least he is willing to stand by his own arguments (be it as right or wrong) against ppl who do not agree with him.

  30. Hi. I was responding to the post above which questioned where the millions had gone (i.e. who had we signed) as it was stated "<span>becausem [Sic.] Rafa has spent money unwisely" I do not believe this to be true. Where Rafa has spent money, particularly over £10m (hence the segregation) the players have been successful.</span>

    I agree we could have gone out and bought more cheaper players but then Rafa would be slated for not buying quality.

    The point of including the section about players we missed is that we (Rafa) had targeted good quality buys which didn't work out for whatever reason. Thus suggesting he knows what he is doing in the transfer market.

    Your other comments are all fair. Managers will always complain they don't have enough £ and I think there are enough stories floating around to suggest Rafa's handling of players is suspect.

  31. We have to distinguish between quality and form here. Look at the list again:

    Mascherano - we agree is quality
    Reina - we agree is quality
    Agger - we agree is quality
    Skrtel - was quality last season (poor form this season) - I think we can agree he should currently be 3rd choice and learning his trade?
    Aurelio - we agree is quality
    Benayoun - we agree is quality
    Johnson - I'm sure we'll agree is quality
    Riera - was quality last season (poor form this season)

    All of the eight players above are quality but form has hampered two of them this season. It is to be expected that form will prove a problem from time to time.

    As for the injuries, well unless you buy a player injured (AA), then the rest is in the hands of the gods. Rafa can't be blamed for players getting injured - Aurelio's was at home, off season!

    I'm sure we'll agree Babel was the dodgy buy so onto the contentious one - Kuyt - I think Kuyt works incredibly hard for the team and is an excellent motivator (he is not third choice captain for no reason). He is a striker, but I believe he struggles with the pace of the premiership when he plays up front. I believe Rafa should be applauded for realising this, accepting it and finding him a role which he fulfils. One he is capable at rather than excellent. When he plays on the right I believe he is defensively good which allows Johnson to push up. The same cannot be said for the left when anyone other than Aurelio plays there. While he may not excel in the right he does make up for it in pure heart, in my opinion.

  32. You haven't got my point. I am saying rafa should have bought less of those <10mil players and buy 1 or 2 >10 mil players. So buying LESS cheaper players like (Dossena / Lucas / Belleamy / Crouch) and focus on buy just one or two Arshavin / Malouda. He failed to deliver the message @ LFC, or his relationship with the LFC management / owners are so bad that his message is not followed. I am arguing here is it is NOT 100% the fault of on his counerpart (e.g. Parry) as he often uses as one of his self-defenses, becuz he had EXACTLY the same problem in Valencia and this is NOT likely a coincidence where Rafa was working with bad management / owners each and every time. Rather, it's just because  of his poor interpersonal skills, an this important quality for a top-tier manager in addition to the "tactical skills" which Rafa was so proud of.
    So the conclusion is with better relationship developed with the owners / management, Rafa could STILL have converted those "unwise $" to be spent more wisely. So he is STILL have to bear part of the blame in my view. And simply ignoring all those buys @ <10mil  and claiming he did well already on those >10 mil buys is NOT an appropriate way to assess Rafa, or any managers for that matter.

    Think about that: if any manager could ONLY deliver ONE quality offensive player in FT (with SG being inherited from his predessor) on the pitch in his 5-year tenure with >200 MIL spent and you STILL say his transfer record is decent (if not quality) is really beyond me.

    And you went on and mentioned about Rafa missing some targets for "whatever reason". First of all, EVERY TEAM has missed some top targets. And however amongt of top targets he've missed, he DID have SG / FT to play for him. the obvious reason is LFC cannot compete with RM / Barca. Another reason you seem to imply is that Parry was blocking some of the deals Rafa suggested. Again, this goes back to the first argument I mentioned where Rafa's poor interpsonal skills have played a part of those misses . Don't get me wrong. Parry was indeed an A****LE. But as a quality manager, you have to good relationship with your CEO /owners to maximize management efficiency in addition to the tactical skills. But the fact that Rafa has had exactly the same problem @ Valencia seem to suggest that he is very weak in this department, which has taken its tolls on his performance.

  33. Apologies. I can see what you're saying now and I agree that two >10m quality players probably would have made more sense. I'll have to blame it on my early morning bleary eyes!

    I take the point about FT being the only offensive player and I believe we need another quality striker desperately. However, the players he signed and tactics used took us to 2nd in the PL last year. What was right last season is now only wrong because we have had a run of poor form and is not down solely to Alonso! Also, while Kuyt has not worked out as planned he is a good player and Babel, well I think my brother said it all above. He was courted by all the top teams but has been a huge disappointment. Let's hope that Aquilani is going to be as good as we all hope!

    As for Rafa's management skills. I would be a fool to say that I don't believe there isn't something quite right about his overall management style. I get the sense (and it is only a sense) that he is an introverted manager and communications in general are suffering because of this.

  34. Quick to forget we only lost twice in the league last season, i bet there wasn't a problem with motivation then.

    At the end of the day everything is going wrong at the minute, but we still in top 6 arnt we. It can only get better from now on.

  35. Rafa ynwa, an "educated" fan in support of Rafa, I suppose. Of course I haven't forget last year where Rafa ended a good run up to the 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle with a public rant with SAF + public complaints on owners on transfer funds. And how could I forget his transfer dealings of Keane + Dossena which costed a combined 27Mil. The result: the good run ended and plenty of nil-nil draws against bottom teams due to lack of striking force. Despite CHE donating 6 points to them under the incompetent Scolari, LFC STILL fell short by 4 points. The conclusion? Rafa failed to capitalize on his BEST chance to secure an EPL title when his top rivals CHE / MU were not performing, something he WAS ABLE TO DO TWICE in Spain when RM / BAR fell asleep in those years. And it's now safe to say this window of opportunity is all but gone this year, and possibly the next 2-3 years. 

    You mentioend about injuries being a major part of the problem, but you forgot to say the reasons. Hard luck beyond Rafa's control, or is it not? Well, who's the decision to buy the injured AA, and who's decision to play SG @ Lyon to bail out his own blunders aginast the #9 ranked team in Seria A & Sunderland?  Had Rafa earned a draw in those games, SG would not have been needed to put under risk. And of course, had he converted the 27Mil used on Keane + Dossena, he would not have had been as short-handed as he is right now.

    I am of course careful in what to use as a benchmark for teams which use interim managers. And while I see failures in certain cases like Newcastle / Sunderland, I also see successful cases in Tott (with Rednapp and Ramos). And King Kenny has a lot more understanding of the LFC club than anyone else and I suppose he could do a better job than Joe Kineer (NEW) & Spearkia (SUN).

    Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. I am one of those "uneducated" fans you've mentioned. But as uneducated as I am, I was STILL able to recognize that Rafa WAS indeed a top manager in his 1st 3 years of tenure (2 ECC final + 1 FA cup). Unfortunately, his ego and poor man management started to dominate his thinking and the team has underachieved SINCE THEN both in terms of league position (including last season) and player dealings.

    And as a matter of interest, were you in support of Houlllier when he was sacked 5-6 years ago? The reason I ask is because most of the arguments you use to defend Rafa NOW (title contenders / a force in Europe after the No.2 League position and winners of the then UEFA cup ) could be 80-90% plugged in to defend Houllier's case THEN. I really hope you were not, because had that been the case, you would not have been able to see the great things Rafa did in his 1st 3 years of tenure. And the same logic applies now where it seems an appropriate time to move on for a new manager (with King Kenny being the interim manager) for fresh ideas to take the club to an even higher level. 

  36. You are correct that getting the No. 2 position was great, but had Rafa <span>not made the public rant with SAF + public complaints on owners on transfer funds + spend the transfer funds on Keane + Dossena (combined 27Mil) probably, LFC would have won the EPL last year. And for last year, it's NOT a matter of LFC getting it right. Rather, it was other key rivals (CHE under Scolari + MU way too occuplied with the World Championship + Super Cup + ARS struggling with the egos with Adebayour + Gallas) doing it WRONG. And when these "wrong" things do not happen this year, LFC just simply went back to their familiar inferior position. </span>
    <span>And quite frankly, I believe something is going on behind the scene for Rafa: Just imagine all the wrongdoings by him this year (6 losses in 7 games, 5 losses in EPL in 11 games, buying an injured crock in AA, substituting your best players, injuring SG @ Lyon, using crab players like Lucas every game), I was thinking that, even a manager who really hates LFC takes charge of the club, you STILL have to try VERY HARD in order to make it as wrong as Rafa. </span>

  37. yeah, um, heart is not exactly what we need from our forward players (strikers and wingers). We need goals. Or put another way, we need more effective support for Torres (and Gerrard) enough to warrant a threat to opposition defences and prevent them from zeroing in on Torres and Gerrard all the time. Kuyt, for all his so-called hard work and "heart", provides none of that. So you admit that as a striker in the Premiership, he's poor at best, "struggling with the pace" of it(whatever that means coming after playing here for almost five years, and for a player one of whose best attributes is considered to be the fact that he runs around a lot. But whatever....), so the redeeming fact for you in all this is the fact that Benitez has somehow converted him into a (very poor man's) makeshift winger? That's some consolation prize. Oh and incidentally, I expect my third choice captain to be capable of scoring goals against reserve player from another team....especially when they are playing up front as the lone striker and especially when it's against a team with a noted leaky defense like Arsenal. But I suppose that's too much to ask of Mr. "pure heart".

    I think you put it best when you described him as "capable rather than excellent". Because we wouldn't want anyone to be confusing him for an excellent player now, would we? Especially at a top club like Liverpool. Me, I think even calling him capable is stretching it as there are way more capable, skilled, talented, dangerous, and valuable wingers (seeing as we already established he's a lousy striker) out there playing than he's so far shown. But that's just me.

  38. I love how when there is success its in spite of Rafa and when there's failure its because of Rafa.  I for one was not happy with what happened at Craven cottage and disagree with him removing Torres at the time. IMO he should hav at least made it to 75mins. I think the author hit it on the head when saying that we just have not been consistent from game to game. Blame the manager for that if u like.

  39. I beg to differ with ur analysis of the "quality" players the manager has brought in in his 5 yrs. In the 5yrs the manager has been here he has brought in: Reina, Mascherano, Alonso, Torres, Benayoun. Are these not quality players? i think in the transfer market he has done no better nor worse in the transfer market than his contemporaries.

    As for the >10mil or <10mil point u seem to be missing one key factor. There's no guarantee that the 10mil u save this season will be added to the transfer budget of the next season to purchase that >10mil player. It simply does not work that way. Its more like spend it or lose it and with holes to fill or TRY to improve from season to season you try to do the best u can with the budget allotted.

    I see u mention that everything went wrong for the other clubs thats y we finished 2nd last season. Isn't that tue for any club every season. All clubs try to take advantage of the misfortunes of other clubs. They all hope to avoid injuries and in-fighting etc. Look st this season to date. ManU is struggling with the loss of Ronaldo. Arsenal are hoping that there youngsters stay the cost. Everyone was sceptical of Hughes and City being able to hold it together and gel. LFC has been ravaged by injuries and the lack of quality depth (blame the manager here if u like). And what has Chelsea done? They've managed to stay injury free. No pouting from Drogba and Le Sulk and have been able to TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PROBLEMS AT OTHER CLUBS.

    I guess ManU really didn't win the title last season. They just won it bcuz of CHE under Scolari etc etc etc.

  40. Doesn't it work both ways?  There are success in spite of, and because of, Rafa.  Same goes for failures.  Benitez is inarguably responsible for some of Liverpool's failures, but he also responsible for some the club's successes.

  41. careful there Jaimie u might hurt urself

  42. Ello guys.

    Lively debate here, thanks for all the comments and for those who can see my point.

    For those who can't and are anti-Rafa, here are some of my basic ideas on why we should give him time.

    5 years is a very short time in football, and I see it as a shame that getting to two Champions League finals, winning one, getting to an FA Cup final and improving us without fail for 5 consecutive years including a record breaking finish in May is not enough progression for fans because they can't deal suppress their 'feed me now' attitude.

    Shankly went 7 years without winning a single thing while he rebuilt his team. Would the same fans have called him for his head in his 5th year? Maybe.

    Liverpool have the 5th most expensive squad in the premiership and the 5th highest wage bill. By all acounts we should be finishing 5th. Rafa is a victim of his own success and high standards. The Premiership is the only major competition he hasn't won in his last 9 years.

    I admire his calmness in the midst of this vicious storm and I wouldn't be surprised if he won the league and walked away, at times I wonder whether we deserve him.

    Maybe an ego-tistical big mouth like Mourinho would appease some fans? I wouldn't be surprised from what I hear coming from some fans.

    At the end of the day though, it's a matter of opinion, it's my opinion that Rafa should get 5 more years if I had my way. But it's other peoples wishes that he should go tomorrow.

    Until he does though, I think we should leave the tripe and sticking the boot in, out.

  43. That's exactly the point. Rafa did really well in acquiring quality DEFENSIVE players in his first 3 years Reina / JM / XA, but his tranfer record was significantly tarnished since then. And OVERALL, however you argue, that, he was ONLY able to deliver ONE quality OFFENSIVE player in FT. So Rafa has definitely done no right and no worse vs. other managers in acquiring DEFENSIVE players over the 1st 3 years. But could you say the same for Rafa in 2007/08/09, in particular on the offensive end? At least I won't.

    And in your point of spending the $ outright for fear of not getting the $ next season, I am not sure if this is the way any successful manager should do. But it seems like Rafa heeded your advice and kept spending. That's why so much $ was wasted and delivered only one quality offensive player. And how can your bench not be weak and how can you not struggle when FT / SG got injured? And you know what, the only difference between Rafa and other managers who kept wasting $ is that he came back to the media and shamelessly blamed the owners for not giving him enough $ to buy his top targets (e.g. Silva / Villa, etc).

    And you are right that every team is taking advantages of other teams' weakness, which was exactly what happened last year. And LFC just go back to their normal inferior position this year against thees teams. And you are right, even without Ronaldo / Adebayeur / Tevez, MU / ARS still coped with that MUCH better than LFC. The reason? They bought players that are avaialble from day ONE (e.g. Valencia / Owen), rather than buying an injured crock like AA.

    And the only problem with last season is that Rafa attributed the no. 2 position to his own "quality" management, rather than other teams not doing well. That's OK with me, everyone in the world would have done that. But he got fans like you to believe that's the truth. 

  44. I am not sure at all if your numbers are right. Rafa was ranked #3 in NET transfer spent since he took over in 2004 (even if you exclude the Cisse deal). Check this out:


    So please DO your own research and get your # right before defending your beloved manager.

    what Rafa did in his 1ss 3 years was indeed very good (2 ECC final + FA cup). However, his performance has since gone worse both in terms of team performance and transfer dealings.

    I know you will counter argue that the No. 2 EPL position last year was a "success".Well, <span>had Rafa not made the public rant with SAF + public complaints on owners on transfer funds + spend the transfer funds on Keane + Dossena (combined 27Mil) probably, LFC would have won the EPL last year. And for last year, it's NOT a matter of LFC getting it right. Rather, it was other key rivals (CHE under Scolari + MU way too occupied with the World Championship + Super Cup + ARS struggling with the egos with Adebayour + Gallas) doing it wrong. And when these "wrong" things do not happen this year, LFC just simply went back to their familiar inferior position. So rather than taking full credit for gaining the No. 2 position, Rafa should have been critisized for blowing the best chance in winning the EPL in the past 18 years. So I don't know if LFC fans deserve to have Rafa, but 1 thing for sure is they DID deserve to win a title last year had it not been Rafa's blunders as aforementioned.</span>

    And 5 years might not be a very long time to you, and I am sure you might STILL stick with Rafa even if LFC dropped another 5-10 games and got ousted in the Group stage this year. But unfortunately, new investors will not be willing to invest in the club. And other star players (FT / JM) might not have the same patience as you to sit here for 5 more years and play for the No.4 position in the EPL. And in case you miss it, Rafa has actually mentioned that LFC do NOT need to win trophies to be successful. So I'm not sure about you, but many other LFC fans might not share the same goal as you & Rafa.

    <span>And as a matter of interest, were you in support of Houlllier when he was sacked 5-6 years ago? The reason I ask is because 80-90% of the arguments you use to defend Rafa NOW (5 years is a short time, the No.2 League position and winners of the then UEFA cup) could be plugged in to defend Houllier's case THEN. I really hope you were not, because had that been the case, you would not have been able to see the great things Rafa did in his 1st 3 years of tenure. And the same logic applies now where it seems an appropriate time to move on for a new manager for fresh ideas to take the club to an even higher level.  Because, unlike you who only look at successes (but not misdoings) in the past to justfiy someone to stay, I look at the future in what other better alternatives the club will have in this ever-changing environment. Unfortunately, today's world is very different from the Shankly days and the 7 years he has had might not hold true any more. After all, do you believe Rafa could win the EPL title in the 2010/11 seaon (7 years)? I bet he won't.</span>

  45. Rafa haslost the plot. For those who have supported Liverpool for decades and supported managers and teams who have supported them via performance and silverware, it is a bit much to expect them to be satisfied with the quality of football and quality of team (note i say team) because it appears that Liverpool are not a very effective team at present).outstanding players alone do not maketh the team, however, management of said players together with correct tactical decisions is important. This to some extent can explain last season and definitely this season. Rafa somehow seems to have lost sight of what is important to liverpool fans. Is it perhaps the Rafa show. does he  have or want a bootroom brigade to bounce off ideas and frustrations to help him.To sacrifice sat against fulham in the hope that we will win on wednesday worries me. Shouldnt he as he always says take it one game at a time.

  46. "he wouldn't have lasted this long at any other top-4 side."... really?? when did arsenal/wenger last win a trophy? how long did it take mr ferguson to win a trophy?... i can answer these questions for you if you wish, as your memory seems to be shot.