Today, the Rafa Benitez era of Liverpool’s history ended, with the manager leaving the club by mutual consent after the club agreed a financial settlement with him.
Late last night and this morning, when it became apparent that Benitez was going, there was a huge split in opinion about whether or not this was the right move for the club to make. Some fans, like myself, feel that Benitez had enough time and money to succeed and it was time for the club to move on. Others say that Benitez was the only man for the job and couldn’t have done any better than he did.
Anyway, in the next few weeks expect the press to declare open season on Liverpool and there will be a slew of negativity and pessimism about the ‘state of the club’ and everything going wrong with Liverpool short of the Liver birds flying away, unfortunately we’re just going to have to ride it out until the new manager’s in place, some new faces have arrived at the club and all Liverpool fans can hopefully face the season with optimism.
In what will inevitably be a futile bid to stave off some of the stories that will appear in the newspapers and on TV in the next few weeks, I’ll try to address some of the arguments that I’ve heard so far.
1) No good manager will want to come to Liverpool
Really? I’ve heard this from quite a few people. Liverpool, for all the problems at the moment (which aren’t as numerous as some people are reporting), the Liverpool manager’s position is still one of the most prestigious in football. Any manager with any ambition will want to get a chance to take the reins at a club with the pedigree that Liverpool has. I’d be willing to bet that there will be many top managers who reckon they have what it takes to turn the club around and would love to have Liverpool on their c.v.
2) No manager could do better than Benitez did under the circumstances
That’s a very hard statement to back up or deny with any great certainty. There’s so much smoke and mirrors coming out of the board and Benitez this season it’s hard to get an accurate picture of what’s going on. What I will say is judging by what I and all other reds fans have seen this season, is that many of the players, including the top stars, were not enjoying life under Benitez. Also,
3) Who would want to come to a club with only a £5m transfer kitty?
This figure of £5m seems to stem from a Daily Mail article. An article that didn’t cite any sources within the club at all. I don’t take any stock in those figures, in fact Tom Hicks has promised ‘significant investment’ in the team this summer. Even last summer, when we were potless apparently, we still managed to buy two players for over £17m each. Rafa Benitez was given £266.4m to spend on players, so I don’t accept the argument that he wasn’t backed in the transfer market.
4) There will be a mass exodus of players now Benitez has gone.
Some fans fear that Benitez’s departure will lead to a stampede for the exit door by Torres, Gerrard, Mascherano and any other player the media chooses. Well, I’m far from convinced. There have been loads of reports saying that Benitez had lost the dressing room and that his relationship with Torres and Gerrard was poor. There’s been a lot of talk about the way he was very standoffish and cold with his players. In Jamie Carragher’s autobiography he describes his relationship with Benitez to be ”cool” and in Fernando Torres’ he says that Benitez never praises but motivates with criticism. Steven Gerrard has been publicly criticised after games and frankly, looked fed up. Some of those big name players may leave this summer, but that may have more to do with the lack of Champions League football, rather than Benitez leaving
5) The current squad is so poor; no manager would be able to do better with them.
I don’t think that’s true. The current squad undeniably contains players simply not good enough for a team with the aspiration of Liverpool (N’Gog etc.) but remember, as bad as we were this season, we still should have got 4th place. The team is full of demoralised, demotivated players who have suffered from Benitez’s incessant rotation and believing in the stick rather than the carrot.
If the new manager, plays a formation more suited to the squad, play the players in their actual positions and can motivate the players, there’ll be a huge improvement in the team. If the talents of Ryan Babel and Alberto Aquilani can be harnessed and used to their full potential, we’ll be a much stronger squad. Add to that the striker we desperately need and maybe a couple of other new faces, there’s no reason why Liverpool can’t get top 4 next season.
6) It is only 'out of town' Liverpool fans who wanted Rafa out
I honestly believe that the move to end Benitez’s tenure is a positive one and that although it is slightly sad that the promise that was shown early on in his reign wasn’t realised, Liverpool fans will look back on this day as the beginning of a positve new era in the club’s history.