9 Jun 2010

RAFA BENITEZ: What was his best ever Liverpool XI?

Taking into account all players bought and sold over the last 6 years, what was former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez's best ever XI?

My best Benitez XI:

Formation - 442

--------------------- Reina

Finnan ---- Carragher --- Hyypa ----- Riise

Garcia ------ Alonso ---- Gerrard ---- Benayoun

------------- Crouch ----- Torres

Subs: Agger, Bellamy, Kuyt, Hamann, Fowler, Skrtel, Pacheco, Aquilani

I don't think Gerard Houllier's back-four was improved upon during Benitez's reign. Carra/Hyppia is an untouchable partnership; Riise was far more consistent and *fitter* than the likes of Aurelio and Dossena, and I'd take Finnan over Johnson any day of the week.

I hate the modern footballing concept of having one dedicated holding midfielder (or in Benitez's case, two). I'd rather have the creativity and unpredictability of Garcia and Benayoun than the physicality and stamina of Kuyt and Mascherano, two players who epitomised Benitez's cautious, defensive-minded approach.

Torres is a no-brainer, but Crouch has to be there too. He was fantastic for Liverpool, and I have no doubt that if Crouch-Torres had been given a chance (i.e. a run of games over a season), it would've been wildly successful.

What's your best Benitez XI?


  1. -------------------------------Reina

  2. been saying since he left that no matter how frustrating the player was, if garcia was still in the team we would have had no where near the amount of draws we had the last few seasons!! even with 2 holding mids....

  3. my best benitez 11:
    Kuyt........Alonso..........Gerrard.......Luis Garcia

    Subs: Dudek, Johnson, Agger, Hamann, Benayoun, Keane, Fowler.

  4. Can't really argue with JK's although I'd probably put Hamann on the bench.

    Like Lara's too but would replace Kuyt with Garcia.

    @Scotty - agreed about Garcia.  A player who played a huge role in RB's first 2 seasons and made significant contributions to the FA Cup win and, of course, the majestic night in Istanbul.

  5. You will make one brillant manager some day!
    lol lol lol lol

  6. Good point, Carl.  I forgot about Didi.  I'll add hin to the bench :)

    Also agree about Garcia - he was great to watch, and played his part.

  7. theycallmemrBurt8:25 pm, June 09, 2010

    Garcia had this nack of being in the right place at the right time to miss a chance!! but in every game, he had chances and was always a threat.  He hardly ever found his teamates with passes either but his ability to find space in the box was uncanny.

  8. Benitez buys only:


    Subs: Sissoko, Pacheco, Maxi, Johnson, Aquilani, Babel, Fowler

  9. He hardly ever found his teamates with passes either but his ability to find space in the box was uncanny.

    Funny stuff :-D Very true though...

  10. He hardly ever found his teamates with passes either but his ability to find space in the box was uncanny.

    Funny stuff :-D Very true though...

  11. Reina; Finnan, Carra, Hyypia, Riise; Benayoun, Gerrard, Alonso, Kewell (when fit); Torres, Crouch.

    Bench: Dudek, Agger, Hamman, Sissoko, Garcia, Kuyt, Bellamy.

  12.                          reina

    finnan       carra      sami       riise

    johnsom    alonso    masch      benayoun or garcia



    that was quite hard that. all last season i was hoping agger

    would get a run at left back instead of insua but i couldnt

    put him ahead of ginge in my team. JK have you seen aquilani

    play for roma to make your bench.

  13. maxi looks like a good player, aquilani looked promising towards the end of the season too, hopefully with a good pre-season under thier belts they'll kick on this year

  14. Can we do a worst 11.

  15. theycallmemrBurt8:44 pm, June 09, 2010


    Finnan hypia Agger carragher

    gerrard alonso Sissoko Kewel



    For me Riise was a really poor player after his first season.  He packed on the muscle and became imobile. Carragher broke into the team at left back so as not to expose hyppias lack of pace (Riise had no brain) and did it better than anyone in the last couple of years apart from Aurelio. Agger on his day is the most easy on the eye centre back in the world along with Lucio and Rio (when he used to actually bring the ball out)

    I'm going with that midfield because Gerrard banged 23+ goals in the season they all played together (from his best position I think, right mid) and even kewell, like a second hand car, was good for a year.  That midfield had everything a modern midfield needs: energy, vision, goals and creativity.

    Garcia had a knack of scoring crucial goals and seemed to find space in the box so naturally.  And Torres is Torres.

  16. Yes, I've seen lots of Aquilani for Roma.  Without injuries, he'd be a useful player to have on the bench.

  17. Benitez's worst XI:

    Degen / Josemi-----------Pelligrino----?-----------------Dossena



    Subs: Gonzalez, Pennant, Leto, Voronin, Paletta, El Zhar, Couldn't think of a 7th.

    Slightly harsh on one or two players.  Personally I think that Kromkamp was better than the others at right back.  Pelligrino, whilst a fine defender in his prime was past his best.  I think Dossena goes without saying as Insua is still very young and will improve.

    I feel a bit bad about including Lucas as he's not that bad a player I just feel he's been unfairly compared to Xabi Alonso and / or Mascherano who I feel are both unique, high quality players.  Ok, so I'm cheating a bit with Zenden - guilty!

    With the frontline, who would have thought that Morientes wouldn't have coped with the Premier League or that Keane didn't really work out. 

    As for subs:  All the hype over Gonzalez was unfounded.  Pennant never good enough, Leto - who knows, Voronin - less said... Paletta, again hype unfounded - not the next Ayala, El Zhar - a liv player by registration only.

  18. CHARLES ITANDJE !!! HAHHHAHA i totally forgot abt that most disgraceful man ever signed for us, Havn't heard abt him ever since....i bet some true fans made him sleep with the fishes.

  19. momo what a player before his eye injury, not the best on the ball 
    but the best player ihave seen at wrecking opposition attacks.
    see fa cup against west ham for details,
    agger for me just needs to be a little stronger at centre half
    especially in epl but i agree the boy can play.

    garcia frustrated me so much but as carra put in his book he
    probably would not have as many medals. 

  20. does everyone hate Michael Owen that much?

  21. You must be mad mate.  Some of those players ain't that bad.

  22. Doh!! Nice one homer simpson.  Owen NEVER played for Rafa.

  23. I've tried to avoid picking players who were signed for the reserves / youth set-up as I don't think it's fair to choose players who haven't / didn't represent the first team.

    What's your line-up?

  24. Not one to split hairs but Carra was no centre back until Rafa arrived, but as ever I suppose Rafa had nothing to do with his improvement.

    Anyway, I remember fondly Rafa's second season when we would go at teams but this is a bit mix and match:
    Reina, Finnan, Carra, Hyypia, Riise.
    Gerrard (right midfield), Alonso, Sissoko, Benayoun.

    A flexible 4-2-3-1 formation.  Gerrard gets the right midfield slot due to the number of goals he scored from there. 

    Subs from, Kuyt, Crouch, Agger, Skrtel, Cavaleri, Johnson, Insua, Lucas

  25. reina , mascherano, torres, alonso, agger.... some of the best players to ever play for liverpool, pity he didn't get a bit more backing over the coming season. 

  26. ;) Benayoun didn't sign until summer '07

  27. ----------------------Itandje--------------------

  28.                                     Reina
    Finnan               Hypia                Carragher                Riise

                           Alonso               Mascherano
    Kuyt                              Gerrard                                Babel


    Subs (2nd 11): Dudek, Arbeloa, Agger, Skrtel, Aurelio, Benayoun, Garcia, Sissoko, Lucas, Crouch, Bellamy.

    I'm not taking into account this last dreadful season. i.e. Johnson, Aquilani, Maxi, Kyrgiakos.

  29. are you sure about that, wasn't he a player for liverpool when benitez became manager?

  30. Sorry forgot Hamman, would take Sissoko's place on the bench, can't remember much of Murphy under Rafa, candidate for Lucas's place. I've probably forgotten 1 or 2 =-O

  31. theycallmemrBurt10:07 pm, June 09, 2010



    josemi palletta Traore ( u guys missed him out!!) Insua

    Nunez        Plessis (biggest pussy ever!)    El Zhar   Gonzalez 

                      morientes voronin

    And I truelly believe that wherever a liverpool 'Worst xl' is brought up wheter it be 50, 60, or 6 years ago, Torben Piechnik should player/manage....He must be honoured.

  32. theycallmemrBurt10:10 pm, June 09, 2010

    can I throw darren potter and Neil Mellor on the bench?...why not :)

  33. --------------reina--------------





  34. He was the first one to be sold to real madrid when Rafa arrived.

  35. theycallmemrBurt10:18 pm, June 09, 2010

    Oi Salif diao...Diouf  Go and warm up lads.......

  36.                                    Reina
    Arbeloa        Carragher     Hyypia       Aurelio

    Kuyt             Alonso         Mascherano    Riera



    Would have Arbeloa over both Johnson and Finnan. Left back is a tough one but I'd plump for Aurelio as I always thought he looked good there when he did play. Left mid is tough- I think last season has seen a lot of people change their view of Riera but the season before he made a good contribution and having the left footer there always makes the team look more balanced. Kuyt is another one people might disagree with but I am willing to overlook his obvious shortcomings and look at his contribution overall. Think the Gerrard/Torres axis should remain as we played some great stuff with those 2 combining at the top end of the pitch....

  37. carl . do you really think rafa turned cara into a centre half, he 
    can take credit for maybe a bit of positional sense but 
    he cant make you run thru walls. the lad doesnt stop watching
    other players who can make him a better player.

  38. If you're talking only about Benitez buys, Traore wasn't one of them - that was Houllier.

  39. Sorry that was meant for They Call Me Mr Blurt

  40. <span>In the worst 11 where is Ngog>>> he has had so many chances to prove himself. He is complete and utter turd. Anybody agree????</span>

  41. worst  rafa    11                     itanje

                     josemi        palleta      pelligrino       dossena

                      nunez        lucas         plessis         leto

                              veronin            veronin

    He was that bad i named him twice. This was probably the player
    that tipped me over the edge with benetiz, after enduring his
    first spell he was brought back to haunt me. Did you know he
    used to read porn mags in the changing room before games.
    also he was the reason why crouch left because he would get a
    game before him, The words of rafa still ring in my head when
    he said he had game intelligence  and he is Quaaality.

  42. theycallmemrBurt10:54 pm, June 09, 2010

    No, this is the worst team over the last 6 years under Rafas reign. 

    + There is no Ngog in the team because he actually performed ok last season.  He came over to England aged 19 and was raw and poor.  But his strength and back to goal play have improoved immeasurably.  he still lacks maturity and calmness in front of goal but his progress for a lad who has had to play isolated up there all by himself has been quite impressive.  I believe his actual link up play is beter than Torres.  Torres gives the bll away far too cheaply but is capable of moments of sheer class.  Ngog brings people into play fairly well and I believe would flourish in a side that set out to score goals.

  43. theycallmemrBurt10:56 pm, June 09, 2010

    'He was that bad i named him twice' --- lovin it :-D

  44. theycallmemrBurt10:56 pm, June 09, 2010

    'He was that bad i named him twice' --- lovin it :-D

  45. theycallmemrBurt11:01 pm, June 09, 2010

    'Did you know he  used to read porn mags in the changing room before games'

    As far as i'm concerned anyone who actually reads the articles is showing an eagerness to learn.  :) Benitez must have piked up on this early.

  46. Agreed.  N'Gog is, like Lucas, unfairly compared.  In fact comparing anyone to Torres is unfair.  N'Gog has done well in his two years at the club although he does need to add more presence particularly away from Anfield.  Flip side is that he managed to score more goals than a certain M Owen.

  47. He could always have a career change, he did look like a porn star.

    Thank F*** the gypo has gone. how did we get money for him.

  48. I see we're still waiting for your long-promised article in praise of Rafa, Jaimie.

    You seem to have spent your time between his departure and now creating all manner of articles about the club (the stadium fiasco, dalglish / purslow, season tickets rises), but nothing praising Rafa yet?

    You even managed to turn an interview with Mascherano in which he praised Rafa, into an article about how dour Masch is, and how we'd be better off without him

  49. Pacheco?  he's great in the reserves but played barely any first team football - he could still flop. Funny how we have to hype up our players rather than looking at what they've actually achieved. Dani could be tops but he's pretty small and lacks pace, although he's technically brilliant and excellent at set pieces. Where's the critical realism?

  50. I said it was mix and match Homer!!  Most of the team is from that season.  I said MOST just to make it clear.  ok.  Now go read up when Owen left.

  51. I'm sick of people who look for excuses not to give Rafa any credit.  Who do you think spent hours with the player, talking, advising, watching dvd's.

    I guess it is just down to natural improvement then....... doh!

  52. spot on that guy is never a footballer

  53. --------------Reina

    SUBS: Dudek, Agger, Risse, Arbeloa, Hamann, Aquilani, Maxi, Crouch, Fowler

    This team has Liverpool 4 - Real Madrid 1 (Agg 6-1)  writen all over it

  54. Just to clarify the Michael Owen comments above, he did go on the pre-season tour to USA, 2004 before Benitez sold him to Real. Didn't play a competitive game for him I think.

  55.                                 Reina

    Glen               Hyypia        Cara            Riise



    Kuyt                Gerrard               Benayoun


    Subs:Dudek Agger Aquilani Garcia Crouch Didi Finnan
    4-2-3-1 ...... with all the freedom in the world for Alonso to get forward ...

  56. Reina, Johnson, Carra, Agger, Riise, Gerrard, Alonso, Masha, Yossi, Crouchinho, Torres

    I think that team has the most balance. I would also like to add, i wouldn't have Riise in the team now as i think Insua is better, but when Riise was in top form he was unstopable. Crouch and Torres would have been great upfront, shame Crouch didn't want to stick around and see.

  57. KENNY AS MANAGER!!10:49 am, June 10, 2010

    I think people have underestimated the importance of Riera, he def should not be in the worst 11 that people can think of. Riera played in almost all of the big games last season and when he played this season he gave us a decent option. People say that Alonso gave Gerrard the space to have such a big impact last season, but riera staying wide and not coming inside all the time like kuyt and benayoun gave Gerrard the space. Im not saying Riera is great but is a decent and important player and would have made a big difference this season had he not went in a strop.

    Johnson --------Cara ------Agger ------Riise

  58. you're doing some more mix and matching, or are you just angry with everybody. Owen left after Benitez arrived, admittedly before the league started, but nevertheless, Benitez did manage him for a month or so. DOH

  59. .....riena...


  60. "crouchinho" means little crouch lol, you prolly knew that but it made me laugh

  61. Irony is not lost on you my friend ;)

  62. I find it interesting that you've put Benayoun on the left hand side of your team. After all your moaning, sorry "critical realism", about the square pegs/round holes and playing players out of position under Rafa, you go and do the same thing. Oh dear. Poor form JK. 

  63. Hey Gary

    Atleast Jaimie didnt put Mascherano at RB  ;)   or Aurelio in the centre of midfield =-O .


  64. How can it be called a best XI when Kuyt is in the side, kinda sums it up really. Kuyt wouldn't get in most teams in the premier league, as a winger, especially teams towards the top. Other teams have wingers have players with guile and pace while Kuyt has heart.....that can only get you so far!

  65. Gary - if you look at the title of the post, it is Benitez's besr 11, i.e the 11 best players/buys during his reign. Since I think benayoun is one of his best, he has to be in there. I dont think playing on the left is his best position, but for the purposes of this post, he has to be in the first 11.
    Sent using BlackBerry� from Orange

  66. Jaimie, any insight into you honestly think will be the next LFC manager?

  67. All I'll say at this stage is this:  There was a reason why I vociferously refuted 'Empire of the Kop's' contention that Dalglish had been turned down for the Manager's role ;)

  68. All I'll say at this stage is this:  There was a reason why I vociferously refuted 'Empire of the Kop's' contention that Dalglish had been turned down for the Manager's role.  Dalglish has not been turned down, and he is very much in the running.  I think Hodgson will ultimately get the job, but you never know.  Support is growing for KD, and that could make all the difference.

  69. its between king kenny and roy hodgson

  70. thanks Jaimie, have to say, i would much prefer Dalglish over Hodgson..

  71. How many medals and games under his belt before rafa came.

    And i know what your going to say that was at RB. He was 

    still a defender. if you ever get a chance to speak to him, ask him.

    I would agree if he had plucked him from youth team but when

    rafa came he was 26 and had been playing since he was 19.

    rafa thanks for the champions league in 2005. happy

  72. What you could have done is put Garcia on the left as he is left footed, and Yossi on the right being right footed, but you already knew that right. Then you'd have your best XI and not have square pegs in round holes too.

  73. Poor Gerrard - didn't even make the team... :'(

  74. Hey Jamie, how bout a stat comparison between King Kenny and Roy Hodgson and maybe even O'Neil? I'm really starting to want the KING back! The last to win the title and the 1st to do it again after so many years. Some rich new owners and the phrase "I'm back to knock Sir Red Nose of his f$%^&ng perch" and all my dreams will have come true :-P

  75. <span> </span>Reina
    <span> </span>Finnan Cara Sami Warnock
    <span> </span>Johnson Alonso Gerrard Garcia
    <span> </span>Crouch Torres

    Ahh...Crouch and Torres up front. It makes you weep when you see the potential of that pairing week in week out. As for Johnson, ok a 3rd rate defender but what a winger he could be. His crossing is superb. Warnock? Good enough for Fabio, good enough for me.

  76. I'm already working on it ;) Should be up tomorrow or Saturday.

  77. Theycallmemrburt11:53 pm, June 10, 2010

    We are the biggest club in the world and Hodgson and Dalglish are in the running.  If man utd Arsenal or Chelsea sacked their managers these two names wouldn't make the top 20.

  78. I agree, Johnson would make a great winger, he has plenty of pace and scoring ability too.

    This will also give the likes of Kelly to have a go at RB. Wonder where Joe Cole will be playing next season, he would be a great addition to our squad and he wont cost anything!!!

  79. i think this is a sick joke written in glee by you Jamie seeing as you have your wish now and Rafa is not LFC manager oh and the system is NOT 442 and never was under Benitez but maybe under your man M O`Neill (another sick joke),even your REAL manager Sir Alex plays 431 at Old Trafford,bad site,last post

  80. except a salary of over 6mill ayear

  81. the pony tailed one is writing a book called " the pony tailed one"

  82. all you lfc fans putting masch in before Didi, clueless!

  83. worst 11 (although you would have figured it out anyway)
                                      carson (or was he houlier?)
       degen      paletta      pelegrino        peltier/ baragan
          pennant           momo sissoko     nunez
          voronin            cisse                keane
    subs: cavaleri (unknown quantity),babel,kronkamp,itanje(cudnt put him in 1st 11 coz vr1 else has), hobbs ( we paid bout 2 or 3m for him he was only good because he developed faster than vr1 else now the likes of guthrie anderson and hammil are alot better (even though theyre midfielders ) , morientez (too old past it )  AND MARK MY WORDS YOU CAN ADD MILAN JOVANOVIC TO THIS LIST another eastern european free transfer promised to be a good option to torres . watch the world cup and find out for yourself serbian no. 14 SHIT           

  84. This is such a stupid post. Carson was signed as an outstanding prospect most of the top sides wanted him he chose LFC it didnt work out as he didnt fulfill the promise shown no at WBA and is just average goalkeeper. Degan cost nothing was bought as a squad player and to be fair when he has played he  has done ok Paletta, Barragan, Pielter Voronin all signed for nothing or minimal fees as players to be developed with exception of Voronin who i agree was awful. Pellagreno was signed as an aging player as cover never as a first team regular.
    Pennent, Sissosko did okay. Cisse was a Houllier purchase not RAFAs . Nunez arrived as part of the Owen deal and he was truly awful Keane never took advantage of his opportunity great player just didnt do it for us. 

  85. When it comes to a worst eleven, I think there isnt much doubt in most positions but I would find places for Kvarme and Cheyrou.

  86. no -one else wants the job . Believe me they  have asked enough people but most  wont touch it while cheech and chong are still in power.
    put your money on hodgson.

  87. I always felt the problem areas for Benitez were on the flanks. Some of those were of his own making, i.e, Finnan was way better than Arbeloa.  

    Of all the left-sided players that worked with Benitez, Riise was the most consistent. If you check the stats, you'll see that Liverpool more often than not won games when Riise started on the wing. That, and his ability to play in defense made him the best left-sided player at Anfield in a decade. Next to Riise, Liverpool's most effective performer on the left was Aurelio. 

    Benitez never solved the problem on the right wing. Gerrard would have been the most effective, but that would mean breaking up the Gerrard / Torres partnership. Kuyt has done an admirable job. It is not his favoured position, but he does it for the team. I was, however, most impressed with Bellamy. Every now and then he would pop up on the right and create all sorts of problems for the opposition.


    Johnson Agger Hyppia Aurelio

    Bellamy Mascherano Alonso Riise

    Gerrard / Torres



    Carragher cover for centrebacks (Agger also cover for left back)

    Finnan (cover for right)

    Crouch (different attacking option)

    Owen/Fowler (cover for Torres and Gerrard)

    Hamman (cover for central midfield)

    Kuyt (Right and striker cover)

    Kewell (left wing)

  88. It's all gone very quiet on this site recently hahahaha