13 Dec 2011

RAFA BENITEZ reveals his biggest football hero...and you won't be surprised

Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez recently revealed that Steven Gerrard is the best player he's ever managed, but who does Benitez himself look up to? Who is his greatest footballing inspiration? The answer will definitely come as no surprise.

Speaking on Spanish Radio, Benitez stated:

"I knew about Pele; I watched Maradona and Johann Cryuff, but my favourite was always Franz Beckenbauer".

Hmmm. A preference for defensive-minded players over exciting, attacking, unpredictable flair? I never saw that coming...

If Beckenbauer was a football team, then he would've been Benitez's Liverpool: Superb defensively (for the most part); technically and tactically gifted; ventured forward occasionally, but always retained that (genetically inbuilt) defensive instinct.

Judging by the free-flowing attacking philosophy of Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool teams (past and present), I have no doubt that KD's favourite player is of the attacking variety :-)

Based on their team's style of play, who do you think are the favourite players of Gerard Houllier, Roy Hodgson, Roy Evans, Graeme Souness et al?

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. Does everyone forget 2008/2009? We were smashing in over 3 goals every game! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008%E2%80%9309_Liverpool_F.C._seasonamazing pure attacking football!

  2. And yet - can you imagine what Liverpool would be capable of with a Beckenbauer marshalling the troops? Pele was a magical player, Maradona was capable of winning a game on his own, but it should come as no surprise that Bayern and Germany had arguably their best years with the Kaiser at the helm.

  3. Ya, Beckenbauer would never leave Bayern Munich and is a I club man which you find very rare nowadays. He wouldn't move to the scums.

  4. Let's talk about 'FACTS'...we scored more goals per game under the stewardship of Rafa than KD... Oh please explain Jamie 'insightful one'.

  5. Rafa is a manager - it may have something to do with the fact Beckenbauer achieved footballs greatest trophy both as a player and a manager - something Pele, Maradona and Cruyff never achieved. (Zagalo did but was never in the that list of greatest players)

    It makes sense I guess.

  6. Have you ever actually seen Beckenbauer play Jamie? He was wonderful. 'Defensive-minded' is far from the truth - he basically invented the sweeper-system. He was a Daniel Agger prototype. A fantastically gifted footballer whose influence is still seen to this day. You make him sound like Carra for fuck's sake!

    This Rafa obsession is becoming increasingly-bizarre.

  7. Yes, I have seen Beckenbauer play. He was not an attacking player, was he? He played in defence, did he not? Compared to Pele et al, he was defensive minded, hence the comparison.

  8. Yes, judging the goal stats of a manager who was here for 6 years vs. A manager who's been here 11 months is always a fair comparison.
    Sent from iPhone

  9. Houllier - Heskey / Owen
    Hodgson - Konchesky
    Evans - Fowler
    Souness - Torben Piechnik

    Well these are the players that spring to mind when I think of each era - perhaps a little unfairly but that's the way it goes...

  10. Apologies - that was hastily-written due to unforeseen circumstances. What I meant to say is that 'defensive-minded' is a little reductive for a man who could easily have operated in any position on the pitch. He was a brilliantly subtle player who was also able to mix it when necessary, similar to Gerrard in that respect.

    I acknowledge that you refer to the positive sides of his talent in the article, but you seem to stress the 'defensive' nature of things in order to have a pointless, and unbelievably tenuous, dig at Rafa Benitez for some reason.

  11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSQLnvQM120&feature=related



    Yeah, what was I thinking? He's basically Terry Butcher.

  12. KD has the best defense in the league, does that not make him a defensive manager?  I think you'll find, Rafa's and KD's playing philosophies are very much aligned.  

  13. Whether FB could've played in 'any position on the pitch' doesn't change the fact that for the bulk of his career, he played in defence. Alan Hansen like to get forward, but he was still ultimately a defender, and he spent most of his time defending, as did Beckenbauer.

    It's not a dig at RB; you just perceive it as such because of your personal affection for the man. If you were being objective you would see that this is a light-hearted post, which casually plays on the trait for which Benitez is most known: preference for defensiveness and caution over all-out attacking flair.

  14. Yes, Jaimie it is unfair to compare KD goals per game record against RB. However last week you compared KD points total against RH after 14 games. Surely it would have been better to make that comparison after 20 games when woy was sacked...short memory when it comes convenient stats to back up an argument!

  15. I disagree. 14 games vs. 14 games in the same league (within a year of each other) is fair. 6 years of goals vs. 11 months is not.

  16. Houlier = Owen
    Hodgson = Paul Sharner
    Evans = Fowler
    Souness = vinnie jones
    King Kenny = Andy Carroll
    Jamie K = Ali Dia

  17. Nah, I'm more of a Sean Dundee.

  18. Yes Jamie. Reading your "I'm not having a go at Rafa - I'm just saying you're wrong to not think he's shit..." post, I'm reminded of a quote from The Simpsons - "No no - dig UP stupid!"

    Having painted yourself into a corner by being seriously pedantic (and again, reductive) about Beckenbauer's position on the pitch, you then basically belittle me for not having similarly derogatory views about a manager who clearly irks you. 

    But this is ok apparently because you've done it all in a 'light-hearted' way. 

    Granted, I know where you were probably coming from in terms of "Isn't it whimsical that he didn't choose Maradona?", but a player of Beckenbauer's creative quality hardly helps to illustrate your point that Rafa Benitez is a defensive coach. 

    It's a bit like saying Pep Guardiola is a defensive manager because he played in a deep-lying (not unBeckenbauer-like) role during his playing career. 

  19. I would just like, at this juncture, to point out for once and for all - definitively, if you will - that Roy Hodgson was 'a bag of arse' in comparison to any Liverpool manager since the 1950s. Therefore his name should never be used by way of comparison to the achievements or otherwise of any other LFC manager in that time period.

    Please Jamie, may I have Administrator privileges to ensure that this mistake does not happen again?

    Thank you.

  20. I would suggest that it's you being pedantic, not me.  You're the one with a bee in your bonnet over what is clearly a lighthearted post.  All I did was post Benitez's quote about his favourite player and gave my *opinion*. you remember what an opinion is, right? The problem here is you don't like my view, which is why you've seemingly taken offence.

    I haven't belittled you in the slightest; alleging someone has 'personal affection' for someone else is not belittlement, and if it is, then god help us.

    Benitez is renowned as a defensive-minded manager, and that has been proven during his time at LFC. The fact that RB chose a defender as his favourite player is interesting to me because it matches his personal footballing philosophy.

    I don't doubt FB's creative ability, and I have cast no aspersions against the man whatsoever. The fact remains though that he is ostensibly a defender, whether you choose to accept it or not.  

  21. Oddly, I seem to be the one getting all the 'likes' here Jamie. Strange that really since it's YOUR blog with YOUR 'lighthearted - non bee/bonnet juxtaposing' views.

    And I'm writing all this whilst making dinner (seafood chowder) and watching Top Gear on Dave. 

    Hard to envisage how I could actually BE more light-hearted short of having my heart removed whilst sucking on a canister of helium in Nepal. 

    Ball's in your court Rafa-basher...

  22. Likes?! Yes, My self-esteem is dictated by how many 'likes' my comments get from fellow posters (!)

    I don't write stuff to be 'liked' - it's irrelevant to me. I write about what interests me, and if people don't like it, they can exercise their power of choice and visit some other site.

    if you want to think of me as a 'Rafa Basher', that's your prerogative. I will continue to post about Benitez, and if you or anyone else doesn't like it, then in the immortal words of Audrey II, that's 'tough titty'.

  23. Another clueless "fan" wrongly criticizing Rafa for being "defense-minded." After one bad season, a lot of people seemed to have forgoten that under Rafa, Liverpool was ruthless as they showed not only at Anfield, but at difficult places like the Bernebeu and Old Trafford. That was the strongest British team I ever saw in the 2000s, so to criticize Rafa for being defense-minded is a bit silly when you consider that we were scoring 4 goals against top CL sides. 

  24. Roy Evans a defensive manager!!!?? how long have you been supporting LFC? you obviously listen to Sky Sports a lot.  Rafa wasn't a defensive coach he was tactically astute so when the team needed to defend we could.  Remember man utd 4-1, Real Madrid 4-0, Aston Villa 5-0, Birmingham 7-0, Besiktas 8-0 theres plenty more. And Beckenbauer might have been a defender but he started attacks from defence and is one of the all time greats.  Do you not fancy supporting City or Chelski we really don't need fans like you.

  25. ......you never even mentioned the chowder.......... I thought we were... friends.....

  26. Benitez = can't decide between World Cup winner Xabi Alonso or World Cup winner Fernando Torres. Or World Cup winner Pepe Reina of course. Actually, World Cup winner Alvaro Arbeloa deserves a mention here too, doesn't he?

    That Rafa bloke had an eye for a World Cup winner, didn't he?

  27. forget all the people quite rightly pointing out how freely goals were flowing against top CL sides, but what about his valencia team? that was hardly a defensive team was it?

  28. Is todays' Barca team defence minded? Based on the idé of Cruyff (among others), and also a key component in Rafa's philosophy: "If you have the ball opponents can't score". The last time Barca lost possetion stats for a match was in 2008 against Real Madrid in the league. The last time they lost possesion stats in Europe was (surprice, surprice) against Liverpool at Anfield during Rafa's tenure (2007 result 0-1). You propably remember the year, it was when Rafa took us to our second CL final in 3 years and incedently 1st. on Europian performance charts (the club with most performance points accumulated). The squad of 2008/09 is the best I've seen in PL, and on possesion stats we only lost 2 matches all season long in all competetions.

    True Rafa was not an all out attacking manager, and neither was Shanks, Paisley or (is) King Kenny. Rafa was a balanced manager, who liked to first control a match and then try to attack rather structured. That he mentions "Das Kaiser" as his favourite player tells me something about what he likes as well; players with intelligence.

    The only thing wrong was not the manager, who wanted to add Barry and Villa, but got Riera. It was the shortsighted owners and their dept.

  29. Benitez did have his moments of free flowing football though.

    - Back in the la liga with Valencia his team was nicknamed  "the wrecking ball". Even, Gerrard mentions in his autobiography how attacking and well organised the Valencia team was.

    - The 2008-2009 Season. Liverpool scored the most goals and had the best goal difference in the league.

  30. How tiny is this writing?

  31. I would have to agree with Benítez.

    I think too much credit has- and still are given to attacking players.  It may very well be the most difficult position to play in, but football isn't all about scoring, it's also about keeping the ball from hitting your own net.

    Players like Gerrard and Lampard should've had a huge pile of individual awards if it were up to me.  Players who are good at everything.  In other words; a complete player.

    Beckenbauer was that kind of a player.  Good at everything.  Even though he was most famous for his defensive skills, he was also said to be a menace to play against wherever he played, even as a striker at times.

    If Jaimie Kanwar had known this, I think he probably wouldn't have used that (Beckenbauer being Rafa's favourite player) as a dig towards Rafa Benítez, because it really proves- if you're basing his preferences in football tactics solely with this example- that Rafa relishes ALL parts of the game. Not just defending, not just attcking, but the allround game.

    When talking about Benítez.  I have a question to the author of this article:

    Why not concentrate on the present?

    I see you are the self-proclaimed "Tormentor-in-chief of the Pro-Benítez Cult".  No offense, but that seems a little bit childish in one way, and arrogant in many, many other (ways).

    Liverpool (which I believed your site was about when I entered it, although you obviously have another agenda) have a fantastic future, and I think you should concentrate more on that, and not dwell on the past and try to upset people who were- and still are fond of our former manager.  I think they should be allowed to.

  32. Well, THIS seems to be going well...

  33. I would still appreciate an answer from the author to my question above.

  34. That label next to my name is an inside joke. Perhaps you should get a sense of humour? You have your views, I have mine; I don't tell you what to think, so don't tell me what to think. I'll write whatever I want, and if you don't like it then you're free to visit another LFC site.

  35. Don't hold your breath mate. He's legged it.

  36. I'm very sorry if you misunderstood me.  My intention wasn't to try to make you look bad, I was just trying to get a response on my comment and most of all my question in the comment.

    No need to attack me- and my sense of humour.  I did not know it was an inside joke- how was I supposed to know?

    And I'm not TELLING you what you should write, I'm merely suggesting it, as I know (from visiting other articles you have written previously) some people are being aggrevated by your (and again; no offense) rather bombastic pieces about Rafa Benítez.  So nothing more than a suggestion.

    I did not intend to make you think I was telling you how to run your site and what you should- and should not write, and- as I said before- I'm sorry if that is the idea you got.

  37. With respect, I'm not interested whether people are 'aggravated' by my articles on Benitez. I don't personally attack the man; I am always fair with my points, it's just people have such affection for man they can't handle any kind of criticism of him.

  38. That has to be one of the worst analysis of beckenbaur as a footballer that has ever been written. He was an amazing player. One of the best defenders to ever play the game.
    As someone else quiet rightly said he invented the sweeper role. Would regularly make forward runs. Could run a game from his postion. And then to compare him to attacking players. There is no point making comparisons between attackers and defenders. What way can you compare them?

  39. My question was:

    "Why not concentrate on the present?"

    But I feel that you responded to that in your reply to my comment earlier.

    Well, I'm by no means trying to upset you, but when I look at this article, I think you're being a bit unfair to Benítez, to be honest.

    I do see him as more of a offensive-minded manager, with ball possession the most important part of his managerial style, and therefore comparing him to Beckenbauer- or at least your idea of Beckenbauer, is a bit unfair.

    The lack of planning offensively- either from him or players, and insecurity defensively is what defined his last season at Anfield and what brought him- and more importantly- the team, down. (And I take it that this is the season you most frequently use when criticising him?)

    The fact that the biggest creative force in the team until that season- or at least one of them- in Xabi Alonso, left before the season I'm talking about, could indicate that the lack of planning/creativity was due to lack of quality from the players, not the manager, although that is not much more than speculation.

    I would like you to try to remember just one more season before that, and you would see a team that outclassed all other Premiership teams in terms of goals scored, and were by far the most entertaining side that season, ask any neutral supporter that remember the season I'm referring to.

    His Valencia side, which- in spectacular a manner (considering the competition from much higher-spending teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid)- won La Liga twice, playing highly entertaining, offensive football.  This is not an opinion.  This is a fact (no pun intended), as I resided in Spain at the time, and watched La Liga-football frequently.

    So both in Valencia and Liverpool, he managed his team in a very offensive manner.

    In the end I would like to point out that the man in question (Rafa) is a man with a huge love for- not just the club- but for the whole city of Liverpool.  He has also been a strong and significant contributor for the HFSG.

    And for a foreigner, who didn't have any real connection to neither the city- nor the club Liverpool, to become such an important part of the community and the club, in such a positive manner, deserves some respect in my books.

    To be critcal is fine, but I just feel you're sometimes confusing which side of the line criticism is- to what a "witch-hunt" is. ("Witch-hunt" in lack of any more suitable words to use)

    And again; this is not an attempt to make you change your ways of writing- or thinking, far from it.  But a friendly advice, is that you should try to watch that line just a tad more carefully when writing a piece on Benítez.

  40. Yes! Let's talk about facts! But it's not a fact we scored more goals per game under Rafa's stewardship than Kenny's. You're counting Rafa's whole tenure right? So to be fair, you have to include Kenny's time as our manager from 85-91. He even scored some of those goals himself! I do agree that Kenny's current playing philosophy is very much aligned with Rafa's though.

  41. Thanks but no thanks for your advice. Clearly, this site is not for you. What gives you the right to go around telling people to 'concentrate on the present'? Just because that's the approach *you* take doesn't mean everyone has to.

    I will write whatever I want about Benitez, and if people don't like it, they don't have to visit this site.

    Obviously, you can't handle people having different opinions to yourself, which is why you feel the need to go around telling people how they should think.

    I will write whatever I want, and if you don't like it then, clearly, that is your problem, not mine.

    Perhaps you should spend less time giving pointless advice and more time debating the issues? I don't go around telling people to 'concentrate on the past', do I?

    If you want to a discussion on football, I'm all for that.

  42. Rafa isn't as defensive minded as you think. He's only as defensive minded as Mourinho, Ferguson, Mancini, Capello and Dalglish are - one would say it's normal for a manager of that ilk. These are managers who realise that a good defence is the platform upon which everything else is subsequently built. Mourinho, Rafa and Mancini eventually got their defensive teams playing attacking football - but not before they defended like top clubs. The seasons Man U and Chelsea won the league, they did so on the back of the league's best defensive records. For the goals we have this season, we're only where we're at because of our defence, and it is City's defence that has ensured they've lost only 1 league game this season - one which no one can accuse them of being defensive.

    Beckenbauer was possibly one of the more complete players of his era who had all the attributes of a good attacker, but he played in defence. He's favoured by Rafa in the same way Stevie is - because they are well rounded. Apart from defenders, Rafa had always been more keen on signing players who could play 2 or more positions.

  43. King Kenny = John Barnes, Peter Beardsley

  44. Sorry to burst your bubble, but we did have a manager in the 90s of the exact same class as Hodgson. Souness was a lower 40something% manager too.

  45. THERE'S that 'lighthearted' tone we all know and love!

    The true spirit of Christmas.

  46. Well, I was just pointing out something that I think drags down the quality of your site, in the most humble way I know, so  I don't know why you keep on replying me in such an agressive manner.

    I would never want to make all people thinking the same, which you seem to think that I am.  I wouldn't be on here if I didn't appreciate a good discussion.  Unfortunately, you seem to be a very agressive person, judging by how you write (in your replies to my posts), so I won't bother trying to make a point for you.

    Last sentence on your post were: "If you want to a discussion on football, I'm all for that".

    If you had not read so hastily through me post- which I only can suggest that you did- since 90% of my previous post was about football-related stuff.

    My guess is that you were so provoked by my first two- or three sentences- which you obviously took the wrong way- that you didn't bother reading through the rest before writing a reply, which is very disappointing.

  47. Tiny, but there's smaller stuff on this site

  48. DickensonBruceDickenson11:04 pm, December 14, 2011

    I want to be Felderkirk, he's destroyed Cwitical Wealism once and for all

  49. I don't understand this article. 

  50. What's not to understand?

    * Benitez stated his biggest football hero

    * I argue that Benitez's choice (Beckenbauer) matches his footballing philosophy.

  51. Which writing is tiny? Let me know and I'll increase the text size.

  52. You obviously haven't seen Beckenbauer play in his younger years where he was a creative midfielder, he only moved to the libero position in his later years. By the way, how many players can you say have created a position all of their own, Beckenbauer created the libero position

  53. *shoots self* Another person who clearly does not get th e point I was making. Bravo!

  54. You are right about the Rafa obsession. God knows what anyone saw in the man. But comparing Agger - a very mediocre player incapable of hitting a barn door if his nose was touching the barn - with a great like Kaiser Franz is just laughable.

  55. Speak up! I can't hear you!

  56. A fine point, well-made.

  57. Judging by your articles I would have thought more of a Mario Balotelli

  58. Bet you do, your article would have more substance then.

  59. Atleast Rafa wouldnt have had 60M+ worth of "attacking" talent run around like headless chickens!