RAFA’S LOSING THE PLOT
YOU may believe that savaging Rafa Benitez has become an issue for the League against Cruel Sports, but sometimes it is too easy to get these things out of perspective. We are, after all, talking about someone who will benefit by about £20 million if he should lose his job.
What is also increasingly apparent is that Benitez is beginning to surpass in futility his predecessor Gerard Houllier. But what is most important? The finer feelings of the man who came into the game with eyes wide open about its inherent risks – let’s not forget that he served his apprenticeship at Real Madrid, where the life expectancy and working conditions of coaches are tenuous at best – or the increasing reality that the job he tackled with some initial brilliance is quite relentlessly slipping beyond his grip?
Yes, Liverpool beat Manchester United before sliding to fresh defeats, but two facts leap out here. Benitez, like Houllier before him, has the knack of pulling out notable victories against United.
However, and as also it was with Houllier, for every such triumph there are half-a-dozen performances which reveal both a desperate lack of developing rhythm and a critical shortage of players for whom mere adequacy is the most basic of starting points.
Benitez and Houllier have something else in common and it separates them, quite strikingly, from the managers who currently occupy the first three positions in the Premier League.
Both fiends for rotation in their time, they have difficulties in granting players, who by their nature of their jobs are surely among the least secure members of the human race, the kind of public admiration on which confidence naturally feeds. Houllier once said that Michael Owen, who had barely left his teens behind him, had to grow up and be a man for Liverpool and for England.
Benitez may have had his own good reason to withdraw Fernando Torres from the misadventure at Craven Cottage, but the look of befuddlement on his young compatriot’s face was eloquent.
Benitez shuffles his ranks as though he is in charge of the shelf stackers at the local supermarket.
The problem at Anfield is that the culture of respect has been so dissipated, both by the style of Benitez and the increasingly transparent fact that he has simply failed to assemble enough players of the required quality to form a seriously competitive squad. – Belfast Telegraph