Connect in the back of the net
Liverpool have had a, lightly said, disappointing season so far. The Carling Cup win and finals of the FA Cup repair the image of the season a bit, but the fact that after over £100m spent, Liverpool are behind Everton in the league shows how poor the season has been.

With such poor results, Kenny Dalglish’s future at the club has come into doubt. The recent sacking of Director of Football, Damien Comolli, suggests that FSG will do whatever is needed to bring the club back to the top. Kenny Dalglish could most certainly follow Comolli the door, and I believe that, if that happens, a Rafael Benitez return would be the best choice for the club.

Taken from the Daily Mail

First of all, I’m not saying this because I’m a big Rafa fan, I’m saying this because the facts about Rafa speak for themselves, and because he is probably the best choice available that would want to take the Liverpool job.

Let’s start with a short look back at Rafa´s biggest achievements in management so far. His biggest success came when he was manager of Valencia and later Liverpool. He joined La Liga outfit Valencia in 2001, where won 2 La Liga titles and an UEFA Cup trophy. 

He left Valencia to join Liverpool in the summer of 2004. At Liverpool, he won the biggest trophy in football, the Champions League. Benitez also won the the FA Cup at the club. 

His best season at Liverpool was the 08/09 one, where Liverpool finished as runner-ups in the Premier League. He left the club in 2010 following a disappointing season. He joined Inter Milan the same year, winning the Club World Cup, but got sacked because of bad league form and problems with the board.

Judging by the above written short biography of his success, it seems like Rafa is a very good and proven manager. Exactly the type Liverpool need at the moment, but now to the most important thing, his transfer record. Rafa has been criticised a lot for his transfer record at Liverpool, very unfairly sometimes. Here is a short analysis if money he spent at Liverpool.

Season  Players bought   Sold    Net spend

2004/2005  £27m £11m £16m
2005/2006  £27m £14m £13m
2006/2007  £27m £10m £17m
2007/2008  £70.5m £36.5m £34m
2008/2009  £39m £36.5m £2.5m
2009/2010  £38m £42.5m -£4.5m

Total:    £228.5m   £140.5m     £88m

As the table above shows, Rafa spent quite a lot of money at Liverpool. But it must be noted that most of his “big money“ signings were either sold for a bigger fee, or are still playing major roles at the club. 

Although his net spend according to my calculations above is around £88m, it also must be noted that most of that has afterwards been recouped with the sales of Mascherano and Torres, who left for a combined fee of ~£72m. 

Another important thing about his transfers is the fees he paid for players who later greatly improved and are now worth much more. 

Here is a list of some of the “bargains” he bought: Alonso (£10.5m), Reina (£6m), Agger(£6m), Kuyt (£9m), Lucas (£5m), Torres (£20m), Mascherano (£18.5m), Škrtel (£6.5m), Maxi (£1.5m), Glen Johnson (£17.5m, arguable). 

All these players are worth much more today than they were bought for. Liverpool could use such an eye for talent these days, with all the crazy fees spent on flops like Downing and Carroll.

Rafa also has a reputation of being a “tactical genius”. Although his tactics in Europe have led Liverpool to extraordinary achievements in the Champions League, he also has a tendency to focus on it too much, and sometimes forget about the league. That is probably one of the major reasons why Liverpool haven’t won the Premier League in 08/09.

He is also known for his cold approach in man management. Many players have accused him of not praising them after good performances. Rafa himself explained that it was because they are all great players and he always asks more from them, because he knows they can always improve and do better. 

Rafa had, and still has, a great relationship with the fans and the club. He always spoke about Liverpool with love and respect, and would probably love to get another chance. 

He would also feel like he has a point to prove, and with the right financial backing and his eye for talent, I firmly believe he is be the best man to take Liverpool forward.

Written by Ivan Stanic
Follow him on Twitter @stanic007

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