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Chess-loving Benitez lays out welcome mat

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Dan Walker | 19:42 UK time, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

There are very few managers who divide opinion quite as spectacularly as Rafael Benitez. There are those - many of whom are Liverpool fans - who will vehemently defend his record and style, while others dismiss his achievements and question whether he should be a football coach at all.

I remember sitting in a radio studio when an unnamed pundit claimed that Benitez had "offered nothing in 2005" and that the Champions League win over AC Milan in Istanbul was achieved "in spite of Benitez and certainly not because of him".

Benitez is seen by many as a manager who overspent at Liverpool, wasted the club's best chance of winning the title in recent seasons, let Sir Alex Ferguson get under his skin and fell out with the man crucial to Liverpool's success - Xabi Alonso.

I have spent plenty of time attending Benitez's media conferences over the years and interviewed the Spaniard on numerous occasions but last Thursday he invited the Football Focus cameras down to his pad in the Wirral. I spent the best part of two hours with him, playing chess, walking his dog and talking about his first love - football.

When we arrived, he burst out of the front door, welcomed us warmly and proceeded to show us around his gaff. While the tea was brewing and cameraman Sean and producer Richard were picking the perfect spot for our interview, Benitez beckoned me over to a sofa to show me his latest passion... photography. There were hundreds of pictures, mainly of scenery and sunsets. This, he said, was keeping him busy between jobs.

The main interview lasted about 25 minutes - and you can watch almost all of it below. The camera jumps around a bit because it was never intended to run as a single piece but so many people have requested the full thing that we thought we would try to deliver.

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There was plenty said off camera that was even more fascinating. I don't want to tease you but if I could reveal what he said it would change your opinions about managers in general, Benitez in particular and some of the players he bought, sold and kept. I shall leave the man himself to unveil all that.

One part of the interview that fascinated me was the concept of football being "a lie". We didn't have time to get into this on Focus because there was so much good material to wedge in already but I think Benitez feels that, both at Liverpool and Inter Milan, his job was made a lot more difficult than it should have been.

The Italian situation probably sums up Benitez perfectly. Those who think he is a great manager and those who don't can fuel their arguments with what took place in Milan.

Some may argue that Benitez took over Jose Mourinho's treble-winning side and ruined them, failing to motivate the squad, deploying the wrong tactics, annoying the president, alienating the fans and the media before leaving only six months after taking over.

On the other hand, those that love him argue - as Benitez himself did in our interview - that he inherited the oldest squad in Europe yet still won two trophies in six months - albeit the Supercoppa Italiana and the Fifa Club World Cup - and could have added more if he had been allowed to buy players and not been undermined by the president and long-time servants of the club.

Walker and Benitez on the beachWalker and Benitez down on the beach

I am not sure of the truth but, whether in Milan or Merseyside, Benitez has been blamed for much that he shouldn't. Yes, he spent a lot at Liverpool but, as his supporters will tirelessly point out and his detractors conveniently ignore, he was always balancing the books. He will admit that he does talk a lot about "net spend" but it is always worth looking at the "players out" and "money in" columns before making a judgment.

Benitez will be back and probably in the Premier League. While we were walking one his dogs, Goofy, down on the beach, he talked about his desire to return to England's top flight, where he thinks he is best suited. The next time there is a vacancy at the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Spurs and Liverpool... watch this space.

Before we left, I was given a perfect example of his will to win. We were filming a game of chess to use as colour for the interview. After about two minutes, I said we needed to speed things up for the purposes of TV and removed six or seven pieces from each side. "What are you doing?" piped up Benitez. "This is serious." We filmed the end sequence and shook hands for the cameras, at which point I stood up to thank him. "Sit back down," he said. "We have a game to finish."

I tried to unsettle him but he did not react to any of my mind games. "Chess is all about controlling the middle of the board... just like football," he proclaimed as he manoeuvred his pieces into an unassailable position.

"We'll play again sometime," he said as we left his pad, "once you've had a bit more practice." Apart from being humiliated at chess, I found Benitez as charming as he was interesting and I look forward to his return to the dugout.

Walker and Benitez play chessBenitez gives me a lesson in the finer points of chess

If you have any comments about Benitez, the interview or Football Focus in general, let us have them. Let's try really hard not to turn this into a "net spend" fest. If you want to follow the build-up this week's show then visit


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  • Comment number 1.

    Benitez is a very good coach but should not be allowed to buy players as he is dreadful in the transfer market.

  • Comment number 2.

    Looks lie a fab gaff! Class.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good blog as always and thanks for putting up the whole interview, it's always nice to see interviews unedited and see the actual conversation happen.

  • Comment number 4.

    Benitez is clearly a very good manager and he was treated badly by Inter. I think anyone who accepted that job was on a hiding to nothing. They had won everything there is to win with one of the most popular managers (with his own fans at least) in the world in Mourinho. I am sure Rafa will put the whole mess behind him and take his next club to the dizzy heights that he took the average Liverpool side bequeathed to him by Gerard Houllier.

  • Comment number 5.

    Dividing opinion. :-)

    I LOVE Rafa, and without any apology at that. He's the man that single handedly gave the Kop Nation it's pride in playing again. He's the man who returned Liverpool FC atop the UEFA Champions League summit, giving us one trophy win (2005), a Super Cup win (against Bayern Munich), a number one ranking and another final. I won't mention the excitement and drama - and general unplayability of the Reds during his eventful six year tenure.

    All through, Rafa talked, breathed and believed in Liverpool. I won't dwell on him "losing" to SAF on the mind games front. The English media loves hyperbole and exaggeration. It has also proved itself either pro-SAF or plain afraid of him. I wouldn't take it's so called objectivity too seriously.

    The chief reason Benitez was perceived as lacking in warmth is because he always refused to provide the ridiculous sound bites others (darlings?) like Mourinho did. Not because of his ability to coach.

    To be fair, the Reds had declined by the time Benitez took over, with the owners saddling the club with debt. All seasons, and only if fans are honest, for every Torres the club bought, a Bellamy would have to leave. How many sections of the all knowing English media acknowledge that?

    Benitez actually generated a lot of money to the club, easily proving one of the most productive club managers during his six year spell. Regular top four finishes and deep runs in the UEFA CL ensured this. In addition, he basically ended up recouping much of spent money on players, the loss of Keane and a few others aside. Which manager's buying system is foolproof here. I include the Prof too.

    Rafa is a legend, plain and simple and a man I will always have the highest regard for and wish him all the best. He brought in King Kenny and contributed heavily to the squad we have today. He did this with sub zero financial support from the club's ownership. if that fails to make him a legend, I shudder and despair to think what will.

    One last one, for any who think he was a mediocre, overrated manager, please check out his win percentage and compare to his time outside Liverpool. This is only the third man to win back-to-back UEFA Cup and CL titles, and the first (and only) with two different teams.

    Rafa the Red is a Liverpool legend, with or without the approval of those he divides. Period.

  • Comment number 6.

    Inter were in 7th place when he left, they are in 3rd place now, is that just a coincidence? Sorry, but he upsets too many people around him to make a successful manager. I don't doubt his enthusiasm and knowledge of football, just his diplomacy skills could do with a revamp.

  • Comment number 7.

    He's had a lot of criticism over the years about his time at Liverpool, but as many Liverpool fans like myself may say, it was undeserved. Look at his achievements in his first year at the club. The squad he inherited was not great at all and he made something out of players who were seen as outcasts at the club before his arrival (Biscan, Traore etc). He got barely any money for one of Liverpools best players at the time, a mere £8million. He did performed wonders with a depleted Houllier side. Not to mention the terrible injury sustained by the £14million forward Cisse. His successes in Liverpools Champions League victory can not be questioned as some people, including a certain Lawri Sanchez believe that victory over AC Milan was "lucky". I've got nothing but respect for Benitez's tactics in Europe. In addition, the European team of the year contained no Liverpool players who won the Champions League that year. That speaks enough evidence to show that Benitez's tactics were outstanding.

  • Comment number 8.

    This should be enjoyable!

    *sits back and waits for the arguments to go round in circles.

  • Comment number 9.

    I agree Rafa is dreadful at buying players. Mascherano, the recently departed Unmentionable (whom he turned into something else), Pepe Reina, Alonso, Agger, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos, Kuyt....

  • Comment number 10.

    @5- The super cup win was against CSKA Moscow. We beat Bayern Munich in the 2001 super cup after winning the UEFA cup under Houllier ;)

  • Comment number 11.

    Unemployed Spanish chess player seeks job, preferably on Mersyside but would accept anywhere in the North West or London. Has habit of conceding check mate through bizarre and hate inducing conspiracy theories. Loves dogs, but suspicious of peers. Record shows possibly ideal for Man City. No liars please.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'd like to see Benitez try his hand with one of the mid-range clubs. Give him West Brom (purely because that job is going spare) and see how he does, without a massive transfer kitty or any precocious superstars, out of the major media limelight and free to do what he wants without being judged on numbers of trophies won.

    I question a lot about Benitez's character, but it must be noted that he got Liverpool their first Champion's League title since 1984 and as close to winning the Premiership as ever since the first days of Dalglish. However, he did leave Hodgson with a side that was, at best, mediocre, with a couple of exceptions. Like I said, there is a lot to question.

  • Comment number 13.

    #10 [Rob918] Thanks and I stand corrected.

  • Comment number 14.

    Great article, Benitez really is a fascinating character. Regardless of recent "so called failings" he's still proven his worth across Europe, by winning major honours across Europe. Obviously the stand out trophy on his C.V is the champions league and for this reason I'm sure it wont be long before we see him again in the premiership...and it will be good to see him again.

  • Comment number 15.

    Rafa was a great LFC manager. His LFC teams controlled most of the PL games at Anfield, and despite more contrary results or win percentages, they also controlled away games. Accurate figures on his transfers showed a profit, lazy or careless journalists in popular media did not research fees properly. Despite that, his squad or team turnaround was too high for better stability or growth, especially under Hicks and Gillet who latterly would never back him with enough cash to support his style. He got rid of poor signings normally quite quickly, his performance and style on the pitch was far better than Houllier.As a season ticket holder for 35 years, my eyes did not deceive, neither does his win percentage which rates high. Best manager since Dalglish....!

  • Comment number 16.

    #12 A mediocre side that Hodgson made even more so and Kenny Dalglish has currently taken to sixth? :) Let's ignore the media and "popular opinion" for a while and just give Rafa a break.

  • Comment number 17.

    Left Hodgson with a mediocre side...that oddly now are 4 wins on the bounce, 4 clean sheets, having beaten Chelsea at home having done double over them this season. Listening to the interview you can see Rafa was always trying to move forward and build with dwindling resources, having to borrow from Peter (Alonso) to pay Paul (Barry - mistake in my book). And imagine seeing the idiot owners tapping up mediocre Jurgen Klinsman for your job on a Monday morning! But the club is and was in his heart...has ever a foreign manager been so synonymous with one club? (Fergie dont count) I think Kenny has many more cards to play...but the glint as he said he would " for sure" want to Manage Liverpool in the future....YNWA Rafa

  • Comment number 18.

    Let's just forget the pro- and anti-Benitez arguments for a moment. This was a good article. It's nice to see a little of the extra-curricular personality of a man who has only ever really been seen through the distorting lens of football. He seems like a nice chap. I wouldn't mind seeing him in English management again, though I think it'd be for the best if he took the reigns of a team other than Liverpool upon his return.

  • Comment number 19.

    Rafa, brought to liverpool what Kenny has done to them now, at the end of the day Kenny is using Rafa's squad plus Meireles!

    He had some dodgy buys in the market but he had poor management above him and small funds to sign true quality-

    argueably these points show of Rafa's way in the Market

    Pepe Reina 6 Million now worth 30?
    Kuyt 5 Million now worth 15?
    Agger 3 Million now worth 20?
    Glen Johnson 12 now 20?
    Alonso for 7 Million sold for 30
    Torres for 22 sold for 50
    Luis Garcia for 2 Million sold for 8
    Mascherano for 18 sold for 18

    See the pattern, because i do!

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm a Chelsea fan and have no love for Pool, but I do think Rafa was unfairly treated during his spell there

    Always got a very bad rap from the press, but the fact is thta he lasted 6 years at one of toughest jobs in the country despite this

    He was atrocious in the transfer window but tactically he's very sharp, he was the one who kept frustrating Mourinho. Doesn't surprise me to hear the man's a chess master, his whole game is about tactics

    I don't think his man management was quite as poor as people liked to make out either-he was the one who got Torres, Gerrard, Carragher, Reina, Mascherano all playing like world beaters

    He did fail at Inter BUT he didn't exactly have easy shoes to fill and his management style is very conrasting to Mourinho's

    Good luck Rafa

  • Comment number 21.

    Rafa - come to Newcastle!!! :)

  • Comment number 22.

    Dan, thanks for the article and for posting the full interview. Following all the discussions about and around Benitez, I can see now for myself what he is about as a person.
    I see a great guy, passionate of football and of Liverpool.

    Many will say now - thanks, but no thanks, Rafa, your Liverpool days are over, and we have King Kenny now, and that's precisely what he said himself! He would have lied though if he said he was not interested in becoming a Liverpool manager once again in the future.

    One more credit to give him is the way he always stood up for the Club and its interests, and was not afraid to say out loud things that 'hodgsons' had no guts to say.

    YNWA, Rafa.

  • Comment number 23.

    Benitez was brilliant at Liverpool. I have no doubt, even Fergie would of struggled with 'those' American owners!

    Problem with Rafa is he tries to be too controlling. A little less on the politics would make him a better manager.

  • Comment number 24.

    It sounds like Rafael Benitez gave you a great interview and opened up a lot. I suspect there are quite a few managers in the English League who wouldn't be capable of that without constantly reverting to cliche and hyperbole. Benitez is divisive I think because the Liverpool supporters are protective towards their club, and feel that there is an "ideal" way of doing things based on the likes of Shankly and Paisley.

    I think that given the right club, chairman, and board, he will do a good job elsewhere too. He probably did allow himself to get riled by Ferguson, but he's not the first manager that that has happened to. There is a lot of macho posturing in football and both managers and supporters seem to feel that they should respond in a similar way when sometimes they would probably do better to let it wash over themselves.

    Sam Tyler

  • Comment number 25.

    You cannot downplay the extraordinary achievement he attained at Liverpool, transforming a sleeping giant into a more considerable force, I follow Liverpool closely and the exhilirating sensation be weaved into Anfield through transfers and tactics were immense, no European football night at other English stadiums matched the expectation and taste at Anfield, the club didn't just return to continental football, they signalled it with imperious and disciplined run to the 2005 victory, and since then they followed up with regularly impressive results, the epic and last-gasp victory against the dazzling yet inexperienced Arsenal, the stunning defeat of holders Barcelona engineered by an unlikely victory at Camp Nou, the obliteration of European giants Real Madrid, the awesome Steven Gerrard-inspired victory over Olympiacos, the two breathtaking semi-final successes over Chelsea shaped around transfer speculation over Gerrard, and then that defiant comeback against AC Milan, illustrated by the defiance, discipline, industry and class of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, their superb no-nonsense performances sparkled Anfield, they steered Liverpool, they brought the great intoxicating nights when European giants would come and crumple beneath Anfield, yes the football was fixed on a defensive and conservative approach, but it served them richly, it always did. Even that 4-4 stalemate against Chelsea that confirmed their exit was a demonstration of just how far Benitez took them
    he had the ability to make Anfield feel special, and a special feeling at Anfield isn't some little sequence of gritty victories, its when Liverpool when they need to, unveil their full power and unleash everything with the Kop in full voice, that's what Benitez was unheralded for, he was a legend to Liverpool, his statistics may present a meagre return for all the money spent, but signing Reina, Torres, Alonso, Masherano, Garcia, Kuyt, Crouch, Agger, Skrtel and Aurelio was a better return to Reira, Babel, Krompkamp, Aquilani, Morientes, Pelligrino, Bellamy...Benitez operated under limited resources and hugely undeserved pressure, and he lifted Liverpool to reasonable heights, yes finishing 7th was a terrible blow, but with a weakened team that was in low supply of confidence and full strength always, what else did you expect?
    pay some respect to a manager who bravely defied Ferguson's control over the PL and FA, a manager who bit Mourinho too hardly for the Portuguese, and a man who won us our fifth crucial European Cup and made Liverpool supporters sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" with extra motivation

  • Comment number 26.

    Rafa was, Is and always will be an absolute legend. Sadly, he was repeatably attacked my the media for not been English.

    Rafa you are a gentleman and a true Liverpool legend. Please come back to Anfield one day. Thanks for Istanbul.

  • Comment number 27.

    Rayburn I think it was said in the interview they had two games in hand and bought five players in the transfer window may have had something to do with the progression up the table. But we all know it wouldn't have happened under that manager, there are those that believe there are those that don't never has any manager divided opinion like this guy. I will nail my colours to the mast I think he is one of the best.

  • Comment number 28.

    Excellent piece. Rafa, as always, comes across as a thoughtful man who knows his football. He articulates one thing very well for those who may have forgotten it: I think we all know that we as supporters can NEVER truly know what goes on behind the scenes at our respective clubs. We're all guilty of believing things that we've thought we've heard said from players, managers or dare I say owners based on media reports or pub gossip, but we just can't know the real story from where we are stood, and so we should stop losing sleep over it, and just focus on enjoying the football as much as possible. Players come, players go, but the club and the shirt last for a lifetime.

    I look forward to seeing him back in football when he decides it's time and if someday in the future that means he'd be back at our club, then that's just fine with me.

  • Comment number 29.

    To cut a long story short...Benitez is not as bad as his critics make out but equally not as good as his fans would have you believe.

    Indeed, a good manager rather than a great one.

  • Comment number 30.

    Great blog and thanks very much for showing the full interview. It's great to see some reporting on Rafa which isn't totally degrading to his managerial record.

    Champions league qualification every season under Rafa except the last. His record in the champions league:
    last 16;
    Runner up;
    Semi final;
    Quarter final.

    This wasn't achieved with Chelsea's or Man City's budget. It is quite clear that anybody who thinks he's rubbish holds a massive grudge against the man, or is plainly stupid.

    Why does nobody ever talk about the content of 'Rafa's rant'? Funny how all that got swept under the carpet don't you think.......

    I'd love somebody in the media to revisit those points. Ofcourse that person would then be banned from Old Trafford..... so may not be the best career move. This ofcourse leads us right back to the very content of the 'rant'.

  • Comment number 31.


    But seriously, Benitez is a top quality guy. His managing style can be a little odd at some times, and perhaps the way he treats his players could be greatly improved, but he does have a vast amount of talent, and can tactically work a football team. I remember what he did at the end of the 08/09 season, the way he got fantastic results against Madrid, Man U and Villa, all just by adding a little more attacking prowess to the team. Wonderful guy. Never afraid to speak his mind, but also afraid to praise the players for playing well, never even a simple 'well done'...

  • Comment number 32.

    #1 If you remember, the American owners bought loads of the players such as Robbie Keane which Rafa was unaware of. I think he's a great coach who has genuine passion for football.

  • Comment number 33.

    That doesn't mean his transfer handling was flawless, it was strewn with errors and sometimes he rotated the tactics and formation all too regularly, meaning liverpool could not settle, but he from Houllier and Roy Evans, took Liverpool to greater heights, trophies were gravitating around Anfield, and while the Premier League eluded them, they delivered when they really desperately needed it, the week of thrashings of Real Madrid and Manchester United that revived their title ambitions, the shattering of Chelsea's unbeaten home record, the surprise victory at holders Barcelona, the record 8-0 hammering of Besiktas...don't underestimate the brilliance of this man, he is a tactical genius. not a financial genius. a master tactician.

  • Comment number 34.

    "while others dismiss his achievements and question whether he should be a football coach at all."

    "I remember sitting in a radio studio when an unnamed pundit claimed that Benitez had "offered nothing in 2005"

    "Benitez is seen by many as a manager who overspent at Liverpool, wasted the club's best chance of winning the title in recent seasons, let Sir Alex Ferguson get under his skin"

    "Some may argue that Benitez took over Jose Mourinho's treble-winning side and ruined them, failing to motivate the squad, deploying the wrong tactics"

    Funny way of saying you like a bloke by relaying all the negative remarks made about him, i really hope Mr Benitez does not read this two faced article I am sure he will only feel betrayed again. "while others dismiss his achievements and question whether he should be a football coach at all" admit it Dan you completely made that bit up - idiotic and a complete nonsense. I see you mentioned nothing of his achievements in Spain when he beat Barcelona and Real Madrid to the title twice! Also how does his first 5/6 years in charge of Liverpool compare to that of Alex Ferguson at Utd?

    Anyone who knows anything about football knows Benitez is top draw manager ok he has made some strange decisions but at 50 years old he still young as a managers go and is still learning, he will undoubtedly go one to achieve a lot MORE in the game.

  • Comment number 35.

    #1 mo_afc
    Clearly you have done the math and worked out what was bought and spent. Rafa was selling to buy and those he sold went towards the near 40 million a year LFC was paying in interest on the two yanks' debts.
    Read #19 above mo as he has got far more of an idea about Rafa. Also, take a look at the Istanbul final sometime and see what happens in the 2nd half after the half time team talk. Add to Istanbul an FA cup and who knows what might have happened if David Moores had either not sold the club or sold it to someone other than Hick & Gillett.
    As for Inter, they are on the way down unless Moratti does as Rafa asked and invests in younger players. The moment Schneider is injured they are a hamstrung outfit period.
    Rafa was and remains a gentleman and one of the top handful of coaches in football.

  • Comment number 36.

    Tactics, results and trophies aside,

    Benitez's main faults were not pandering to the national media and other premier league managers. He paid for it by constant criticism and negative publicity. He always focused solely on the club and supporters, you got the feeling even the players were secondary.

    The complete opposite to Hodgson, the media and LMA darling. Always putting his foot in it with supporters and even his own players.

    That's why the fans loved Benitez and thought Hodgson was a joke.

    I know who I'd rather have back between the two.....

    Kenny is just the best of both worlds.

  • Comment number 37.

    I agree with those saying Rafa was atrocious in the transfer window, as the combined 103 million pounds return on Mascherano, Alonso and Torres testifies.

    On top of that Benitez has wasted 6 million on the dreadful Pepe Reina, who is now clearly worth less than that. Same goes for the awful Daniel Agger who Benitez splurged a further 6.5m on, and Martin Skrtel, who at another 6 million must be one of the most expensive defenders in world football, and is not as good as Rio Ferdinand who cost only fractionally more.

    Then you have players like Yossi Benayoun, who whilst scoring several hat-tricks and being sold for a profit to Chelsea, was total rubbish. And Glen Johnson, who although he may have cost less than five separate Chelsea full backs, is - wait for it - suspect defensively.

    The signing of Momo Sissoko was another disaster. Sold two years later for a profit to buy Mascherano. And Peter Crouch, who whilst becoming an England regular at Liverpool, was eventually sold at a profit along with Craig Bellamy, also sold at a profit, to buy Fernando Torres, who turned out to be total pigswill.

    What really gets my goat though is Benitez's uncontrollable spending on the likes of Josemi for 2million pounds which is a huge amount of money in modern football, or Andrea Dossena, who ended up being sold at a enormous loss of 1 million pounds and replaced by the disastrous Insua, who Benitez irresponsibly splashed zero pounds on.

    His crazy spending, reaching almost a third that of Chelsea who he finished above and had a better record in Europe than, continued with the gargantuan mistake that was Aquilani, a player injured for most of last season, then loaned out to Juve this season, where he has been the best midfielder in Serie A.

    It's all very well these Liverpool fans saying he won more games, won more points, had a better record in Europe than any Liverpool manager since Dalglish, but he's rubbish don't you know? The Champions league was a total fluke, as demonstrated by a continual failure to get anywhere near the latter stages ever again post 2005. He only won the CL in 2005 because he was bequeathed great players from his predecessor like Smicer, Traore, Biscan, Kewell, Baros, Cisse (all played in Istanbul) - along with the likes of Cheyrou, Murphy, Diao, Diomede and others. He didn't have clue what he was doing - he just bagged multiple very flukey wins in Europe against the likes of Barca, Real Madrid, Inter, Juve, Chelsea, Milan and others.

    Finally, what annoyed me most about Benitez was his defensive tactics. Whilst it is true to say that Liverpool scored more goals than any other side in England in 2008-09, including beating Real Madrid 4-0 and United 4-1 at OT, they were still just so defensive, all because they had two holding midfielders. So they scored over 100 goals! Big deal!! Defensive!

    Rafa needs to learn how to spot up and coming talent on the cheap like Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Nani, Anderson, Owen Hargreaves, Juan Veron and Dimitar Berbatov. Ok, so maybe Chelsea spent more than Benitez during his tenure by about 4 to 1, but he's still rubbish. He spent 10 million on Dirk Kuyt, who whilst having an impressive goals and assists record, and being one of the stars of World Cup 2010, is still a very poor player. And by the way, Benitez is very lucky that he had more players at the World Cup than any other English side. Another fluke!

    How managers like Steve Bruce and Harry Redknapp would love to have had some money to spend on players, instead of making do with the peanuts they are allowed to spend on the likes of Kenwyne Jones, Darren Bent, or David Bentley - all far better than the foreign players Benitez signed.

    I agree with ShefieldHarry, who rightly points out that Benitez should go and try managing a mid range club instead of crazy high spending teams like Liverpool. I'd like to see Rafa go abroad to somewhere like Spain and see how he does against the likes of Barca or Real on a shoestring. See how he likes that.

    Benitez should also look at Arsene Wenger for a lesson in how to win trophies properly. I don't care that the two sides that have exponentially outpent every other team, Chelsea and United, have won the league every single year since 2004, Benitez is still dreadful.

    The problems Roy Hodgson had were nothing to do with his tactics. It's all because he was left bad players. Benitez got lucky with that set of bad players over the course of several years finishing top 4, 2nd, getting record points totals, breaking goal scoring records, and Reina winning golden gloves awards, winning the CL, getting to another final, winning the FA cup etc etc. He got lucky over a period of seven years. Hodgson was deseperately unlucky because the players he inherited were rubbish. If the former Bristol City manager, who once got Inter Milan to finish 5th, and who four years ago was coaching in the UAE, can't get the best out of tem it proves they are rubbish. Now we are witnessing Kenny Dalglish come in and be unbelievably lucky in spite of reverting to tactics much closer to Benitez's. So far he has had four very lucky wins and clean sheets.

    Benitez is a terrible manager, as his record at Valencia shows. He's also clearly very difficult to get along with as this interviewer clearly found him cold and distant and didn't enjoy his time with him one little bit.

  • Comment number 38.

    Good interview Dan! I wouldn't like to see him back at Liverpool soon, his style in man management was too remote. But in a few years possibly, accepting that he doesn't fit the NESV model.

    What ever happened to the Alonso situation, not getting Barry before letting go of Alonso was a mistake. After that it was all downhill.

    Good Luck to him, he clearly has a love for the club, and for that alone - let alone his results - I wish him and his family luck!

  • Comment number 39.

    Benitez is undoubtedly a very good coach. But he over complicates the simple game that is football. He worried too much about losing rather than being brave enough to try and win. That is the difference between him and the likes of SAF. Man united take risks Benitez didn't. This cost Liverpool the league title a couple if seasons ago when they drew too many games they should have won. He needs to be more like a father figure to his players, knowing when to build them up and when to put an arm around them rather than saying "can do better" all the time. He will do a good job for a mid table team but he doesn't have the man management skills and that bold risk taking go for the win attitude to manage a top 4 club. This is why Mancini will ultimately fail at city.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    Fantastic article Dee Dubya!!!

    What will i like to say about Benitez?
    Firstly i dont miss him as manager, just based on his struggle to maintain an attacking approach, but i do love what he did for our club. In the years where he reigned i felt he did the best he could and unfortunately the clubs ownership and slow decline impeded his quest to go further forward.

    One thing that really aggravates me the most tho was not Raf himself, but the media. It was when the times weren't good for us (after Hodgson left) all presenters, pundits, papers and so on jumped on this stupid bang-waggon that our players are just not good enough? So now whats your excuse when weve climbed up 6 places into 6th? Same players, and if anything, the star man isnt here. EXPLAIN!!
    Unfortunately we enjoy a sport that is controlled heavily by the media, making brainwashing fans of the sport too easy. I will have to criticise sites like this to an extent because it feeds on this. The rumours page definitely doesn't help, and being one of the most popular sport sites it becomes easy for people to just jump on the media swing. I have people coming up to me today saying Reina wants to leave? Oh, is that so, well how about you listen to the interview in Spanish like he did it and translate it PROPERLY...

    Rafa, like ive said in his defence, had to always SELL to buy... Ok, so Alonso's departure was one of his biggest mistakes. Fair enough. But look at the players he brought in and the value of those players now.
    We can laugh all we want about Lucas Leiva, but now look at how well this 24 year old is excelling? A few months back, he was the worst thing that wore a Liverpool shirt.
    I dont think Rafa is a manager who can coach younger players very well, thats just my opinion, but i do think he has one of the hardest attributes in the sport to obtain at a high level, and that is tactics. Although defensive a lot of the time, the results were good. However in this current market, if you dont spend you dont reap the rewards. The only year in which he was backed, we came 2nd. After that, Nothing...

    I feel for him, and as someone mentioned in the comments above, i would like him to go to a team like West Brom to change things around, tighten they're defence (one of his strongest abilities) and push them into safety.

    Rafa, thank you. Dan, fantastic way of showing the otherside of our ex manager.

    YNWA - Mike

  • Comment number 42.

    Tactical genius, politically naive, average man-manager. I miss him, but remember him 'going missing' in the last year of his tenure. I watched him in the league cup game against Reading at Anfield in his last season and his body language screamed 'get me out of here'. I cringed at his rant but forgave him because I agreed with his sentiments.
    I think he genuinely loves the club and is settled in the area. I would have him back one day, but not yet...

  • Comment number 43.

    Hello all. Thanks for the comments so far and I'm glad you enjoyed watching the interview and getting a little insight into the man behind the manager.

    I just wanted to pick up on liverred1985 #34 who seems to have missed the whole point of this article. I was trying to write a balanced piece attempting to deal with some of the misconceptions about Benitez.

    In order to do that I have to put both sides of the argument. Your one-eyed choice of quotes take the whole blog out of context and as for accusing me of making parts of it up... I am not going to dignify that with a response.

    As for your assertion that 'anyone who knows anything about football knows he is a top draw(er) manager'... I'm afraid that's just simply not true and if it was there would be no point to me writing this blog - that's the whole point!

    Anyway, thanks for the comments and keep them coming. I told Benitez I would give him a copy of the blog and send him through the comments.

    See you soon

    Tony Cottee

  • Comment number 44.

    An incredibly misunderstood manager by people who quite frankly don't have the intelligence to air their views to the public. By that I mean people like Danny Kelly etc.

  • Comment number 45.

    A Top tactician and an outstanding bloke on top. Always gives tea to camera crews outside his house
    Always has and will be a top manager whether it be in Spain, England but perhaps not Italy

  • Comment number 46.

    Speaking as independant football fan and with respect to #6 rayburn's comment
    "..Inter were in 7th place when he left, they are in 3rd place now, is that just a coincidence? .."

    Errr... actually no. Like Mr Benitez says they had 2 games in hand and a quick look at the Serie A tells you there are 5 points between 3rd and 7th.

    A nod to Mr Benitez's perception "football is a lie" I fear.

  • Comment number 47.

    I did love Benitez at Liverpool and would love to see him back one day, but with a strong number 2. Things were never the same without Paco. He needs someone close to him that can relate his feelings to the players. I think a Benitez, Clarke partnership would be pretty exceptional, just as Kenny is finding out, and Mourinho did at Chelsea. He is a proper manager, but we all know, sometimes a manager cant relate to all the workforce so you rely on your staff to do it for you.

  • Comment number 48.


    I think your post is completely unfair on what is a fairly balanced blog. You have selected the negatives and chosen to ignore each of his counter arguments which ironically is exactly what you accuse Dan of doing.
    These are exactly the type of "victimisation" arguments that quite often get us Liverpool fans a bad name in certain sections.

  • Comment number 49.

    i dont rate rafa at all his football philosophy is deeply flawed, you can not compare him with the likes of wenger or fergie, yes he won the champions league with liverpool but i dont remember liverpool playing atractive football for any lenght of time.

  • Comment number 50.

    It's a shame Alonso wanted to go, but he wanted his kids to grow up in Spain (according to most reports) and he also wasn't happy with the increase in tax on his wages, which he said so himself.

    Obviously Rafa played a part in him leaving, when he tried to sell him on to Juventus he must've felt a bit cheated that the manager was trying to force him out of the club, but still, Rafa asked him to stay in 2009, yet he still said he wanted to go.

    I firmly believe, had we been taken over by owners with a decent plan and who actually wanted to invest in the team like John Henry's clan then Rafa would've got us our 6th European cup and 19th Premier League title.

    The list of players he's missed out of due to the owners being incompetent at negotiating or not putting enough money for the player is insane.

  • Comment number 51.

    Thank you cashforhonours #48. Much better response than my one.

    Olivier Dacourt

  • Comment number 52.


    Benitez is damned either way because most people "in football" are constantly telling us that supporters would prefer to win things over style. Now I know this doesn't apply to everybody, but what is a manager to do? Damned whatever they do.

    Andy Crane

  • Comment number 53.

    Rafa was a top manager, I don't understand why he gets so much criticism. He was successful in Spain and England and despite what people say, signed some fantastic players. If we want to talk about bad signings, why does nobody mention Mourinho? His signings at Inter were very questionable in the first season (Mancini and Quaresma), hence the board intervening and bringing in Sneijder who turned out to be their best player. Look at SAF with Kleberson, Djemba-Djemba and Veron, look at Arsene with Jeffers, Luzhny and Tavlaridis. People just want to knock him. Torres, Agger, Mascherano, Alonso, Agger et al more than make up for every Josemi and Nunez.

    Wish him all the luck and hope that in his next job, people will actually take a look at what he does and why he does it rather than just blindly attacking him.

  • Comment number 54.

    Wenger is condemned for not winning anything for several years whilst producing a team that's great to watch, while Benitez is condemned for winning the blue riband European Club competition, but apparently having a team that is terrible to watch. If Harry Hill ruled the world, he'd be inviting them to fight and see who wins. I guess Benitez would as he is a "winner"?

    Basil Brush

  • Comment number 55.

    The 'facts' are that Rafa over achieved with Liverpool. The way he dismissed idiots like Mr Ferguson, Moyes, Allardyce, Bruce, Redknapp, O'Neill etc will never be forgotten, he was a class above. If you look at Rafa's 'net spend' and the regular income generated by CL football, he was the main person bringing money in to the club. No wonder the leeching US&A owners Hicks & Gilette gave him a 5 year contract, he was their meal ticket. Rafa will one day return and complete his masterplan, in the meantime lets enjoy the magic of King Kenny as he knocks Mr ferguson of his loaned perch.

  • Comment number 56.

    "Rafa will one day return and complete his masterplan, in the meantime lets enjoy the magic of King Kenny as he knocks Mr ferguson of his loaned perch." @55

    Here here. Rafa, I want to see you at Anfield the day we take the league back.

  • Comment number 57.

    lvpl78 #37... will you give the guy a break? You are so hard on him!!!!!

    Very well written sir.

    Matt Lucas

  • Comment number 58.

    Rafa, Rafael, Rafa, Rafael.... Rafael Benitez.
    Look forward to your return to Anfield and we sing your name again.
    Houllier got a deserved reception... so will you. YNWA Mr Benitez

  • Comment number 59.

    Naturally people mention the 2005 Champions league when they talk about Rafa at liverpool. But the real acheivments came later CL final 07, Semi final 08, Quarter final 09 not to mention the way we improved in the league and if anyone complains about his transfer spending the last time our net transfer spending was positive by more than 5 M was when we bought torres in 07 (robbie keane is balanced out by being sold again) any coinsedence that by 09/10 the team had started getting worse, (tho not helped that season by bad luck). Rafa did an amazing job and I whoever gives him a job next is very very lucky

  • Comment number 60.

    In my opinion, Rafa is an amazing manager and a top bloke.
    From the interview on this page people must realise he is a genuinely nice guy. He won trophies at Liverpool and at Inter Milan, and i feel like he is yet another victim of the media's poor portrail and poor understanding of managers and the way a football club is run behind the scenes.
    I'm a Notts County fan and i know exactly what its like. Last season we spent months being portrayed in many different ways in the media and not one of them knew exactly what was happening behind the scenes.
    Rafa is a legend and doesnt get the credit he deserves.

  • Comment number 61.

    Dan & cashforhonours #48

    There seems to be no pros following the cons on the first three paragraphs other than Mr Benitez is warm and welcoming. All I’m saying is why bring up these negative views (or common misconceptions) every time Benitez is mentioned?

    (thank you for your reply)

  • Comment number 62.

    My memory of Rafa is totally clouded by the disastrous 2009-10 season, before that you could forgive the errors he made, but because of last season the gloves are off. Without doubt we should have won 2008-9 season, we had a great team and the way we played the last 3-4 months of the season was fantastic, but it was the over cautious approach earlier in the season, like resting Gerrard and Torres, which led to numerous home draws that left us too far behind.

    With that squad all that was needed was a couple of additions, Tevez would have been the main one, but to lose Alonso and Arbeloa, then replace them with Aqualani and Johnson seriously weakened the team. Alonso was our best player and Arbeloa the most underrated, to replace these with a crock who Rafa didn't even give a chance when he was fit and Johnson, who everyone knew couldn't defend, was madness.

    I can only assume that those who love Rafa are totally fixated on Istanbul. I wouldn't change it for the world, but for 114 minutes we were utterly outplayed and for 6 minutes a miracle happened, I still can't believe the Shevchenko miss/ Dudek save because it looks like there's a forcefield in the goal. Similarly we were fortunate to beat West Ham in the Cup, but these wins led to Rafa becoming to powerful within the club and a growing arrogance I never liked.

    You've only got to look at the difference in reaction to Kenny and Rafa, Kenny running up the touchline, massive grin and fist pumping to scoring against Chelsea, whereas Rafa would look down and write on his pad. I know what reaction I want to see.

  • Comment number 63.

    "There was plenty said off camera that was even more fascinating. I don't want to tease you..."

    Grrrrr, you KNOW how annoying it is when people do that. Can you give us a hint, was it anecdotes about particular managers and players that would show them in an unflattering light sort of thing? Do interviewees often bitch off the record? Did you find him manipulative?

  • Comment number 64.

    @ 37. At 21:55pm on 8th февр. 2011, lvpl78

    Great piece! made me chuckle, thanks!

    I am sure Rafa is still going to show all his talents one day and prove his opponents wrong. He likes EPL, and maybe he indeed can take some midtable club and make something decent out of them.

  • Comment number 65.

    Excellent blog and Rafa certainly divides opinion.
    Rafa had a very good record and he did spend a lot a lot of the time badly, regardless whether he balanced the books or not he still didn't manage to win the league and i think he had ample resource and time to achieve that.
    He seemed to give off a coldness in his man management. I think if he was able to invoke the team spirit as Mourinho does, with his tactical nous and ability to hold his nerve he would have won league. Hindsight is a wonderful thing though! Good luck to him.

  • Comment number 66.

    Rafa Beintez is a man who splits opinions - he still has a hard core of Liverpool fans who still remember the Rafalution that he brought in. He transformed a reasonable Liverpool team into the #1 team in Europe. I for one appreciate everything he did for my team.

    Were it not for King Kenny Managing Liverpool right now and galvanising the squad, I'd have him back in a heartbeat, but that time has passed for now and I fear the day when Liverpool face a Premiership team Managed by Rafa for the first time.

    Rafa, I wish you all the best - thanks for being a huge part of Liverpool FC and its' history.

  • Comment number 67.

    I found this to be a very fascinating interview - and not particularly for what Rafa is pointing out; just for how he comes across as a person. He seems like quite a cheery bloke, and totally different from the robot I seem to remember that was in charge at Liverpool.
    I would like to think that he would be given the opportunity to be in charge at Anfield again.

  • Comment number 68.

    Absolute, bonafide, LEGEND.

  • Comment number 69.

    #37 - thanks - really made me laugh. It does show the power of spin.

    Thanks for the extended interview, Dan. As a Rafa Benitez apologist, I found it fascinating. It is clear to see that Rafa & his family have done a lot of work to understand Liverpool, the city & the football club.
    One of the things that seems to have gone unnoticed is that Rafa is a Spaniard coming to the U.K. As someone who made a similar journey, though not from Spain, I can relate to some of the "cultural" difficulties that Rafa mentioned in his interview. On top of that, though he speaks well, he had to understand a new language. And, I think British or English people have to understand him. This is not easy & I think many, especially in the media, have taken the easy way out & decided that Rafa was simply not good enough & started to find faults to illustrate their point. He admits that he's made mistakes. But I think his positives far outweigh his negatives.
    As a Liverpool fan of over 30 years, I rely on my gut instinct to tell me how the team is going to perform. When Houllier was in charge, I use to dread Liverpool conceding the first goal in any match because I was convinced that they would never recover. When Rafa came, that feeling left me & conceding the first goal, especially in a 2-legged European match was never a concern. When Roy came in, the Houllier feeling returned. I don't know what the statistics are like & I really don't care because being a football supporter is all about feelings/emotions. Rafa may have been lousy in all the other things (transfers, man-management, coaching, politics etc.). But, on the basis of giving me a good feeling every Sat (or whatever day) Liverpool played, he did well & I'd like to thank him for that.
    I suspect that until Rafa writes an auto-biography, we will never know what really happened during his 6 years. But it is interesting to hear that Hicks & Gillett wanted to run the club as a business or company. I am sure David Moores & the Moores family did not run LFC as a business. Last week, Chelsea spent £70 m while declaring a loss of £70 m. And at Man. City, do the owners even know what a loss is? These are not the actions of owners interested in running the club as a business. That's why from a purely business point of view buying/owning a football club makes no sense at all. It will be interesting to see how UEFA's financial "fair play" rules work, if they work at all. And, the other elephant in the room that nobody seems to realise is the impact of the "home-grown player" rules. Maybe it's just me, but I do think Liverpool are better-placed to handle this than Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City & Man. Utd.

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    Rafa Benitez divides opinion. I get that.

    But his record stacks up, it really does. He's won just about everything in the game as a club manager: League titles, Domestic Cups, Domestic Super Cups, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and has been runner up in many of these competitions.

    I don't know who is ignoring these cold hard facts, but they need to look at them, and then pluck up the courage to call him a bad manager.

    Fine blog, by the way Dan. I love how as a presenter and a reporter, you are genuinely agenda-free. A refreshing break from most who just have to impart their version of events, or as they like to call it, their opinion.

  • Comment number 72.

    Rafa was an excellent manager for Liverpool and will be again if he returns. One of the best managers in Europe!

  • Comment number 73.

    At 20:41pm on 8th Feb 2011, Mo_AFC wrote:
    Benitez is a very good coach but should not be allowed to buy players as he is dreadful in the transfer market.

    Oh really? This was the man who bought the core of the currant team, not to mention players like Yossi, Alonso, Mascherano!! His sold called 'Bad buys' were not even his second choices they were his third or fourth! If he had gotten his first choices we would have been seeing players like Eto, Augero, Villa at Liverpool but the previous money grabbing owners were having none of it!!

    Get your facts right!!

  • Comment number 74.

    I personally am fed up with hearing about this guy, I thought we had got rid of him when he surprisingly got a job at inter. Now he just seems to be hanging around with his pr company hoping he will get a job. He is a legend in his own lunchtime........The chess thing during the interview is such a stunt it's unreal that anyone can take this guy seriously.

  • Comment number 75.

    Great interview. Rafa is a class act. His record of success is undeniable.

  • Comment number 76.

    Allan Wood, you are free NOT to view his interviews or read blogs about him, no?

    He is still a controversial figure for many people, being out of EPL job for over half a year now. He still presents interest for his likers and haters. If you are none of them, then go read something about Roy Hodgson or Sam Allardice... oh no, can't find any good read about them? and why? Because they are mediocre. And Rafa is not.

  • Comment number 77.

    Thanks for posting the video its much appreciated, it was good to see Rafa talking so openly about Liverpool and his connection with the club. Not only that but his respect for Kenny and making it very clear that though he would love to manage LFC again he is prepared to wait. He has admitted he made mistakes and though people castigate him for his signings, he did sign some truly world class players which gets forgotten imo. I for one would happily have him back managing LFC, though maybe with Kenny at the helm its not the right time atm. He had one bad season and was wrongly sacked, he deserves another chance to finish what he started...the real question is when?

  • Comment number 78.

    @ 37. lvpl78

    Thank you mate! Your post was brilliant, I couldn't stop laughing. It's a shame that it will get lost on most though!

    @ 62. wewerecontrolling

    Sorry mate, you're making a fatal error here. Me (and others like me) don't like Rafa 'because of Istanbul', we love him in spite of it! The man is a WINNER. It's as simple as that, before Rafa Liverpool had gone FIVE YEARS from coming back from behind at half time to win a game, under Rafa it was the standard.

    You would also do well to recognise his achievements with Valencia; we all know he won La Liga twice with them, but what most don't know is that it wasn't consecutive and between the two seasons he finished 5th. Meaning, he can turn around not only games, but revitalise a team that had a bad season. I have no doubt in my mind, that this man could have turned Liverpool around again this season, especially with the new owners.

    Although I'm ecstatic that we have Kenny now, I would welcome Rafael Benitez back to Anfield with open arms when the time comes.

    Regarding the general perception of the sporting media and Rafael Benitez, the worm is slowly starting to turn. After Sky's manager failing so abysmally, and Kenny showing the world how darn easy it is for our players to start playing again, the old horse of 'squad not good enough' isn't being beaten anymore. Soon they will start praising Lucas (a much maligned and brilliant young player), and then you know that hell has frozen over!


  • Comment number 79.

    I don't support Liverpool (Arsenal is my team), but Benitez is a quality manager no doubt about that. However, regardless of the terrible ownership of Liverpool under his tenure, he has to accept some of his signings were incredibly poor, and perhaps he should have done more to retain the services of Alonso. There are also questions as to whether he became too much of a control freak at Anfield with his hiring and firing of staff members - did he just employ 'yes' men? It would be interesting to see how he would do under the much more stable ownership of John Henry and co - also, in his defence, Benitez succeeds when there is general happiness at board level.

    It must be remembered that his achievements with Valencia were nothing short of remarkable. And I have no doubts in my mind that no other manager in the world would of been able to achieve that glorious 2005 Champions League with an average Liverpool side.

  • Comment number 80.

    Good manager but extremely questionable transfer market decisions. Also invested poorly or at least used poorly the youth system; only Kelly comes to mind recently. Carragher and Gerrard have been established for years. Lucas isn't as bad as everyone makes out though but Keane and Johnson for almost £40m?!

    His league record however is nothing to be lauded over previous regimes and his subsequent Champions' League record is only because of the ridicuous expansion of the compeititon to keep the money in the top clubs - I realise the irony as a United fan. He did well in 2005 and 2007 but I can't believe how few Liverpool fans don't realise it was Hamann that was key to that comeback?! Not Benitez and not Gerrard.

    Evans: 8th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 3rd (avg. position 4.4)
    Houllier: 7th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 5th, 4th (avg position 4.16...)
    Benitez: 5th, 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 7th (avg position 4.2)

    And my favourite post ...
    Pepe Reina 6 Million now worth 30? - same as Buffon?! He's worth £15m.
    Kuyt 5 Million now worth 15? - Kuyt cost £10m, he's worth the same.
    Agger 3 Million now worth 20? - Agger was £5m, injury prone but a good shot on him so maybe worth £10-12 tops.
    Glen Johnson 12 now 20? - cost £18m, worth about £6-10m. Now used a s aleft back cos Kelly is better.
    Alonso for 7 Million sold for 30 - Alonso cost £11m, sold for £30m. Congratulations! You almost got one right.
    Torres for 22 sold for 50 - YAY! one right!
    Luis Garcia for 2 Million sold for 8 - cost £6m, used as a makeshift for Torres.
    Mascherano for 18 sold for 18 - well done! 2 correct

    In England, can see him being the next City or Chelsea manager, maybe Liverpool again, but if he came to United I'd cry. And I can't see him continuing Arsenal's youthful attacking policy; maybe the trophyless cabinet.

  • Comment number 81.

    Rafa splits opinion because you have both rational and idiotic people living on our planet. The idiots believe what they're told, the rational analyse the information and decide for themselves. I'd love to say it was a no brainer just how good Rafa was/is, but the no brainers dispel that theory. Hopefully Rafa will return, just as the sky generation fall.

  • Comment number 82.

    Benitez was a great manager for Liverpool and I think he would have been fine if he'd had that Champions League money to pay for Simao, Dani Alves, Jovetic and all the others he wanted, but at a certain point he got so worked up trying to make everything work that he lost his way.

    I mean, if you owned a big club, would you hire the crazy man in this interview who keeps insisting on ranting about 1-2-3 from the past? Rafa looks like a man who can't admit when he's wrong, holds grudges and wants to fight with everyone, including his owner...not good. He needs more than one month off, DEFINITELY.

  • Comment number 83.

    Thanks for posting the article Dan, confirming that Rafa is indeed a human being (a note to all of the southern media heads that loved to bash him during his LFC tenure)...

    One slight issue that I have is around his now infamous "rant"...

    The stock definition of a rant is: to speak or disclaim extravagantly or violently / talk in a wild or vehement way...

    How can we see a person take out a list of evidence and proceed to recite case in point in a calm and controlled manner as a rant... Surely this is the total opposite???

    It also strikes me that the contents of the suggested "rant" were brushed under the carpet pretty quickly and little was discussed around the actual points made... SAF influence perhaps?

    I for one am happy that Rafa has decided to return to the North West, to people that he clearly has some connection with and I am sure that with the right club structure in place, his next team will benefit from his experiences to date!

    Thank you for Istanbul Rafa and don't forget that You Never Walk Alone!

    (Apologies if that sounded a little like a rant...)

  • Comment number 84.

    Dan, just want to say thank you for uploading the interview in full. Appreciate that. When I watched the 6-minute version the other day I was really curious to see more but didn't expect to see the full version at all. Cheers again, nice one.

    As for the comments - it really is just going round in circles as disregarder pointed out already. There's no use in trying to defend Benitez in the same way there's no use trying to stun a blind man with a bright light. He had very unique circumstances to work under that contributed to much that went on but I feel in his last season he did lose the plot. The man seemed to be in desperate need of a break, which is probably why things at Inter didn't quite work out as planned.

  • Comment number 85.

    A class act, a brilliant soccer mind and a man that cared deeply about the people of Liverpool - and backed it up with his generous donations of time and money. Hope he has another chance to manage LFC.

  • Comment number 86.

    lvpl78 - fabulous stuff.

    43 players bought excl. youth.
    29 now sold, overall profit in numerical terms (not inflation adjusted).

    remaining are looking good for profit by independent valuation. If they retire at the club then that might change.

    But the media just perpetrated a total myth about his transfer activity.

    10 years KK. then I reckon 10 years of Steve Clarke.
    Surely they can't grab 4th this year......????

  • Comment number 87.

    @ 80. Freddie I

    I appreciate that as a Utd fan, you're being extremely fair minded, but you're missing some salient points;

    Regarding Keane & Johnson; Rafa sold Keane on for a £1/£2 million loss, so there's no real bad issue there. And Johnson's price was inflated because he's English, and Pompey owed Liverpool approx. £9 million from our dealings with Crouch.

    Regarding Istanbul and Hamann, you are absolutely 100% correct that Hamann being on the pitched is what turned that game around as he essentially shackled Kaka, but what I find completely baffling is you neglect to mention it was Rafael Benitez who put him on after half time?! Odd eh?

    Regarding comparing Rafa to Evans and Houllier's league positions is disingenuous, neither one of them had to deal with the Abramovich affect in the EPL. A fairer analysis would be comparing Rafa's record to say Wenger (who only the season prior to Rafa's entrance had the invincibles). What you will find is that Rafa out performed Wenger either in trophies or league positions (barring his last season).

    But, as I say to begin with; coming from a Utd fan, you've genuinely surprised me.

  • Comment number 88.

    The difference between Manure and lfc when lfc finished 2nd?

    Benitez had 5 players over £15m

    SAF had 17!!

  • Comment number 89.

    Would be great to have him back managing in the league, I'm sure some jobs will become vacant in the summer. Why does it have to be a 'top 6' team though?

  • Comment number 90.

    A fantastic manager and quite simply will always be a legend for the majority of fans. People forget that while Benitez was in charge Liverpool claimed a 5th European Cup in one of the most famous games to be witnessed. Benitez also won domestic trophies, something which Arsenal have not achieved since 2005 I believe and perhaps more surprisingly oversaw Liverpool become the number 1 ranked side in Europe!!!

    Rafa I hope you get to read this because you were and still are our hero and I would love for you to return to Liverpool one day in the future.

  • Comment number 91.

    Promised to be a very interesting interview.....but actually was rather dull and predictable.

  • Comment number 92.

    Thanks Dan,for making the full interview possible in my part of the world (Sydney).

    Brilliant interview and how I wish Rafa could have been given the support that Fergie enjoyed in his early fruitless years and beyond. I am sure that he would have delivered even more than he did and would now have LFC in the box seat, particulalry with FSG on board.

    Kenny clearly had unfinished business and we are now seeing how that motivates him and many of his tactics remind me of Rafa. I hope that one day soon we can correct the injustices done to Rafa and allow him to finish his business at LFC.

    Rafa has won almost everything there is on offer in European football in Spain, England and Italy and have done so with three different teams. He is a special manager and cut above most. If he ends up in the interim with someone like Man City I will not begrudge him his moment with them, but most thinking Liverpool fans want Rafa to come back to LFC at the first opportunity.

    I also get the feeling from his interview that Rafa is prepared to wait for another shot at the Liverpool manager’s job and expects FSG to understand his achievements and value when that job comes up again and hopefully he is correct.

  • Comment number 93.

    I cant stand this rubbish that people go on about that Rafa was rubbish in the transfer market. If people are going to make such statements, why not provide some evidence.

    He signed Alonso, Reina, Agger, Arbeloa, Mascherano, Benayoun, Ngog, Garcia, Kuyt, Crouch, Bellamy, Sissoko - players that played a significant role at the club and went up in value following their signings.

    During Rafa's time, he made a NET PROFIT EXCLUDING THE SALE OF TORRES! Alonso was a prospect when he arrived, he left as one of the most complete midfielders in the world. Torres had never scored more than 20 goals in a season. He is now considered to be worth 50 MILLION. Reina has become of the best gk's in the world. Mascherano was lingering on the West Ham bench yet became Argentina captain and possibly the best dm in the world.

    Players such as Degen, Zenden, Jovanovic were only signed because of restrictions placed by the board.

    Given Fergie has signed Veron, Bebe, Kleberson, Djemba Djemba, Taibi, Bellion, Alan Smith, Forlan does this make Fergie useless? Please give me some bargain signings Fergie has made?! His success has been predominantly based upon the golden generation of young players that emerged in the early 90's, who still hold the team together today.

    This isnt to suggest Fergie isnt a great manager - he clearly is. However Benitez is clearly an excellent manager, who the press turned on unfairly. 2 La Liga's, FA Cup, CL, Uefa the man the respect he deserves.

  • Comment number 94.

    #93 - "Please give me some bargain signings Fergie has made"

    To name but three:

    Denis Irwin, £625k
    Eric Cantona, £1.2m
    Peter Schmeichel, £530k

  • Comment number 95.

    what a great interview, it's refreshing to see this kind of thing. it felt very natural while still being insightful.

    I like Rafa, I always did but towards the end of his time at Anfield I did feel it was time for him to go. It's a great shame that the new owners didn't get to work with him because I think if Rafa could have build a working relationship with Damien Comolli good things would have come of it.

    My advise to Rafa would be to choose his next appointment carefully and to look for a club that he can add value to, where he can build something up. But for that you need a good owner and they are as rare as hens teeth.

    I wish him all the bets and thank him for many happy years, I'm sure Kenny will pickup the baton now and build on what Rafa achieved.

  • Comment number 96.

    Excellent interview that allows the viewer to make an honest impression rather than having 30 second sound bites. Liverpool FC have a lot to thank Rafa for and the majority of Liverpool fans will be eternally grateful for putting the club back amongst Europes elite. His success at Liverpool is on a par with all the great managers and is streets ahead of the pretenders like Hodgson, Redknapp and the other media darlings. I think Rafa was booted out a season too soon by an inept Purslow, with the indifferent form of the top 4 in the league this season I am sure Liverpool would be in a much better position now and we certainly wouldn't have had all the turmoil that the Hodgson era brought. You are a legend Rafa and the majority of Liverpool supporters will always wish you well now and in the future.

  • Comment number 97.

    Thank you for this Rafa:


  • Comment number 98.

    So Reina is one of the best goalies in the world. He isn't even the 3rd best Spanish goalie.
    IFFHS Top Ten 2010
    Casillas/Julio Cesar/Cech/Neuer/Stekelenberg/Valdes/Muslera/van der Sar/Buffon/Howard

    Golden Glove WC2010
    Casillas Top 10
    Buffon/Casillas/Cech/Julio Cesar/Lloris/Hart/Schwarzer/Howard/Handanovic/Romero

    Don't think the 'rant' was out of character he was spot on about that. When are journos actually going to stand up to SAF and his band of brothers. Also will the FA actually use its rules and force him to talk to the BBC.

  • Comment number 99.

    @ 92 peterinred

    With all due respect to Rafa Benitez, his talents and achievements, your sentiment about the majority of LFC fans wanting him back 'very soon' or at 1st opportunity is a big overstatement.

    The majority of LFC fans want Kenny Dalglish for at least 5 years.

    Benitez, like many people have mentioned here, is a great manager and a devoted Liverpool fan, and we love him for that. However, he remains a controversial figure, and has some building relationship issues, imo. Kenny Dalglish, on the other hand does not have that issue, and on the contrary, I have never heard any bad word about him even from the rival teams fans. He is a man of a unique ability to unite and inspire people. He is being great with handling the press, although not letting them relax too much during interviews.
    Besides, he is a great tactician and a man-manager. To cut the long story short, at the moment, and for the coming future, the majority of Liverpool fans internationally, and the Liverpool FC players, are happy with the current management. We don't call him King Kenny for nothing. And it's not only about the unfinished business. Liverpool FC is his life and passion.

    Please, do some reading before making a statement about an opinion of a majority of LFC supporters.

  • Comment number 100.

    21. At 21:24pm on 8th Feb 2011, NEWCASTLE_SEAN wrote:

    Rafa - come to Newcastle!!! :)

    Now that would be a challenge.
    However, Pardew has another 5 years, doesn't he..?


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