Benitez out at Liverpool

3 Jun

After six years at the helm of Liverpool, Rafael Benitez has left the club in a mutual decision after a disappointing 2009-10 campaign. He’ll receive a pay-off worth a little less than $9 million, which is a lot less than the severance his contract stipulated since the club can’t afford that fee (sigh). Rumour has it that Inter is interested in obtaining the services of Benitez after Jose Mourinho departed for Real Madrid.

Benitez etched his place in Liverpool history with the miracle Champions League final win in Istanbul in his first season in charge. He also won the FA Cup the next season and reached the Champions League final in 2006-07. The team posted a league runner-up finish last year.  He achieved some wonderful things in his tenure and recorded some memorable victories.

He was a good manager, but never crossed over into great territory. It was hoped that he would bring a Premier League title to Anfield, but that never materialized. His rifts with the owners and the board over the last couple years became too played out in the media and caused too much distraction. It’s time for a change.

His transfer actions were questionable a lot of the time, but he did bring in Fernando Torres, which was an excellent signing as he has scored 56 goals in 79 appearances.  Not too shabby.  However, players like Robbie Keane, Alberto Aquilani, Andrey Voronin and Craig Bellamy have failed to make much of an impression and with the exception of Aquilani, left the club after short tenures.

It became apparent this season that the players weren’t playing with the same passion that they did even a season ago. Is that entirely Rafa’s fault? Of course not, but the manager’s got to inspire the players at least a little bit. A manager’s also got to command respect and I think Rafa lost that with the team this season.

Who’s going to replace Benitez at Liverpool?  The names I’ve heard include Martin O’Neill, Kenny Dalglish and Roy Hodgson.  Whoever it may be has a large task ahead: win over the players and help keep players like Gerrard and Torres at Anfield and of course, get the squad back to the top four (where it belongs) and contend for a title.  But right now, I’ll settle for a little bit of stability and less drama (new owners that don’t suck would help this goal a lot).

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