Wednesday, 19 August 2009


TONIGHT must have been too much to bear for some people.

First, they got their hopes up that Rafa Benitez was quitting Liverpool as yet again bookie-fuelled speculation made it into the public domain.

This latest nugget - that Rafa had stormed out the club and would not take charge of the Stoke game - was apparently fuelled by a rush of bets in the Bristol and Kent areas on Benitez to be the first Premier League manager to be sacked.

Come the game, and there he is - sat in the dug out.

That was disappointment number one for the doom-mongers and the anti-Rafa league.

And that was quickly followed by Stoke failing to put another spanner in the works after holding the Reds to two draws last season.

Meanwhile, thanks to Robbie Blake and Burnley, maybe the spotlight of the snipers in the press will turn to another team that plays in red from the North West...

I really don't understand the feeling against Rafa. I don't hail him as some kind of God - I know he's made mistakes and no doubt he will do again.

But on the whole - and in the circumstances (which have often been trying) - I feel he's done a great job.

Won us the European Cup and the FA Cup, took us as close as we've been since the last title win to number 19, another European final...

But judge for yourselves, here's a lengthy (sorry) but, I feel, entertaining debate about our manager between me, Robbo, and another Red - Ian L - a regular at Anfield, but clearly not such a big fan of Benitez...

So who's right...?

Ian L:

The Yanks get a lot of unfair stick, IMO.

Yes, the club is in debt - but so are you and me if you have a mortgage. It's not the level of debt but how you service it.

And I'm not too sure about this moving the goalposts. As fans, we need to question where these stories come from.

Rafa has proved time and time again he is very adept at using the press for his own means. Anyone remember the "I didn't buy Robbie Keane" nonsense?

Now you tell me which top 4 manager wouldn't know if his club had just bought a £20m forward? Yet the Rafa apologistas lapped it up, "oooh, Keane was forced on him, he never really wanted him in the first place."

It was clear that the whole Keane saga was a front for the power struggle between Rafa and Parry.

Come on. If stories start appearing in the press that Rafa suddenly has less money to spend - ask yourself where have they come from?

Which 'camp' has most to benefit from it?

And no-one has suggested that maybe Rafa knew he had a smaller pot to begin with - and decided to blow it all on a journeyman rightback and an Italian version of Matt Le Tissier....

This may sound like a massive anti-Rafa rant - and it's not. All I'm saying is we all need to open our eyes.

robbohuyton said...

If you don't believe the goalposts have been moved, you believe that Rafa knew he had £37 million to spend this summer and decided to spend it all on two players - I don't believe that for a second, Rafa would be shooting himself in the foot.

Love him or hate him, he obviously wants to win the league - and you're suggesting he'd be happy to kick off the season a centre back down and with no number 7?


And if the stories are not true, why the silence from G&H? They could surely leak some information of their own?

As for unfair stick - like what?

No stadium, no 'any player Rafa wants...'

And yes it is about servicing the debt in these circumstances - and the Glazers seem to be doing just fine in terms of allowing their manager to spend.

Ian L:

I'm not saying the goalposts have or haven't been moved, I'm saying where has this information come from, who stands to gain by it being in the public domain, and why release it now?

The way it's being portrayed is that Rafa only has £1.5m to spend - he is painted as the victim while G&H are seen as the villians. It's like a panotmine.

The truth of the matter is that he has had a shedful of money at his disposal over the last couple of seasons and IF the £1.5m figure is correct, he only has himself to blame. He is fantastically average in the transfer market -at best he and the scouts get it right 50/50.

Before you all point to Torres, Reina, Mash - world-class signings, lets look at the last two seasons, where he spent almost £74m. Yes that's right, £74m.

£20m - Robbie Keane
£8m – Albert Riera
£7m - Andrea Dossena
£1.5m - David N’gog

£20m – Alberto Aquilani
£17m - Glen Johnson
£2m - that french defender

So you ask, did I think Rafa already knew he only had c£40m to spend? Only he knows that - however that figure, or thereabouts, is what he has had for the last couple of seasons, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.

So the question should be: Why did we think Rafa had a load more dosh this season?

Because the papers said so...

robbohuyton said...

Ian - turning that around the other way then - you are suggesting that coming into this summer Rafa Benitez knew he had around £40m to spend.

And, despite obviously knowing we needed an attacker and a centre half, he went off and spent it all on Johnson and Aquilani - meanwhile hatching a plan to manipulate the press to get more money.

And now he is spent up, he is leaking to the press that the Yanks won't give him any more money - two weeks before the transfer window closes and already one game into the season?

Seems a little far fetched to say the least.

As for the 'shedful of money'. Well it's not though is it?

Yes, £74m in two seasons sounds a lot. But we are trying to out-muscle Manchester United and Chelsea - we have to spend.

And to be honest we have to spend a whole lot more than that.

But Rafa isn't being allowed to compete at the top end of the market so, in effect, has to gamble on mid-priced players that may, or may not, work out.

To put it into context, look at Spurs.

Not even mentioned as a team challenging for the league and yet in the last two seasons they have spent...wait for it: £151.4million - more than double Rafa's outlay.

But Spurs - and Harry Redknapp- are very much the media darlings so that's alright - there's no witch hunt for the wide boy when he leaves players on the bench and no media analysis of his every breath - and he's not even expected to challenge for honours!

So if we are talking about the papers, well i'd argue that many of them have an anti-Benitez agenda - and this rubs off on the fans.

Anyhow, those Spurs figures:

Under Harry Redknapp (from 25/10/08 to present)

£15m Defoe
£12m Keane
£10m Crouch
£12m Palacios
£1m Chimbonda
£10m Naughton & Walker
£8m Bassong

Under Ramos (29/10/07 - 25-10-08)

Hutton £9m
Gomes £7.8m
Modric £16.6m
Corluka £8.5m
Bentley £15m
Pavlyuchencko £13.8m
Giovani £4.7m
Woodgate £8m


TOTAL: £151.4million

Ian L:

No, I'm saying over the last few seasons, Rafa has had a c£40m budget to spend. And this one appears to be no different. Who he chooses to go and buy is a matter for him.

How about this for a proposal. He is happy with what's he bought, will use more of the kids next season (Spearing/Nemeth/Darby etc) and it's the press stirring up this £1.5m line.

We're not going to get a number 7 but in truth no other top striker is going to come to Anfield to sit on the bench as Rafa won't break up the formation he prefers at the moment.

As fans, we're all salivating that Villa might come but in reality, he won't leave Spain to play second fiddle to the Torres-Stevie love-in.

Unless Rafa changes the way we play - and I don't think he will.

It's also a complete myth that Rafa isn't allowed to compete at the top end of the market. One that is happily swallowed by lots of Reds, who think that he is being forced to do his job with one hand behind is back, while G&H starve the club of money.

For for the last few seasons, we have outspent Man Utd, apart from one season, where they spent about £50m or so and we spent £40m or so. I think it was the season we bought Torres. I will try and dig out the figures.

He isn't forced to buy anyone he doesn't want. He apparently wanted Simao but 'ended up' with Pennant. He didn't have to buy him. Would we have fared any different if he hadn't bought him.

Most Reds will agree his time at Anfield will have been considered a failure by our standards and by his promise of potential. Yes, he could float in a nice cross now and again but he was too inconsistent.

Yet he cost £7m and left this summer for nowt!

The point I am making here is that Rafa is given money to spend but doesn't do it wisely. On the whole, he prefers to buy quantity over quality (Torres, Mash and Reina excepted) because his philosophy is about having a squad so that he can rest players, ready for the last third of the season.

I agree with him on this point but why pay the wages of Voronin as a fourth striker, why blow £7m on Pennant, when you could use one of the kids? Use them on a wet Tuesday in the Carling Cup, even use them in the FA Cup so the first teamers can have a rest.

And all the Spurs figures prove is that they are as wasteful in the transfer market as Rafa.

robbohuyton said...

The Spurs figures prove that what Rafa has spent is peanuts in Premier League terms - look at Man City now, look at Chelsea when they paid top whack for a string of players.

We have never spent like that under the Yanks and never will. £40m a season is pissing in the wind – especially when he's actually recouped more than that this summer.

Comparing the spending per season to Man U proves nothing either. When Rafa arrived they were already a top team - and remain one - so obviously they don't need to go out and buy loads of players.

The point with the Mancs is when they do go out and buy they pay top whack and top wages - Rooney, Ferdinand, Berbatov etc - we don't.

And just how is it a myth that we don't compete at the top end of the market?

We've missed out on Vidic and Evra, we bid for Silva but didn't offer enough. There's countless examples.

It's not like we were in the hunt for Ribery is it? And yet our title rivals were - says it all.

So to quote Houllier, Benitez is left to search for the 'unpolished diamond' - the cast offs that United, Chelsea, Madrid and now City don't want.

And for that to change, the Yanks have give him some real cash.

Ian L:

You make it sound like we were Accrington Stanley and needed loads of new players. It wasn't that bad under Houllier - Didi, Sami, Henchoz, Carragher, Finnan, Gerrard, Riise (yes Riise) were all more than decent.

Granted, when Rafa arrived he had to do some clearing out (but still managed to win the CL with his Dirty Dozen rag-bag players) but five years after he came, he surely should be there with his players that can mount a sustained, serious title challenge and doesn't need to buy the likes of Voronin, Degen, Dossena.

The fact is that Rafa blew the league last season when we had the best chance in 19 years, thanks to his cautious approach and the draws which killed us.

The point with the Mancs is that when they buy, they tend to buy two big names. Why don't we do that? Instead of buying 6 or 7 players as we have done in the past.

The Yanks have given him real cash and when he gets it right, it gets it very right - Torres and Mash.

But when he gets it wrong, he screws up big time. £7m for Pennant wasn't a lot but with wages, say £50,000 a week, makes £7.8m over three years. So plus his transfer fee, Pennant could have cost the club around £16m and that's before you add bonuses.

That's money that could have been spent elsewhere. Repeat this a couple of times over and Rafa has expensive shopping habits.

Saying that we have missed out on so and so because we didn't bid enough is too simplistic. There are a whole host of reasons that players do or don't go to clubs, from the actual bid, to wages, to whether they will get first team football, the manager, where the club is (ie London) etc

robbohuyton said...

Well like Hicks and Gillet, I'm not buying it.

Liverpool competed directly with Man U for Evra and Vidic - and lost out both times, so it's obviously not a level playing field.

United are getting 35,000 fans more every other week coming through the turnstiles - that's a lot of cash.

So where's our new stadium? Well ask H&G aka 'spade in the ground within 60 days'.

In the meantime, interest payments are burning through the cash Rafa could be spending on top players and top wages.

The reason he bought the players you highlight has been covered - he has to gamble, we are NOT competing for top players.

And Riise? You're having a laugh. Couldn't defend, couldn't attack, no skill, no pace.


Anonymous said...

Rafa is a Hero thats it. Those guys who feel other way around just F**k Off

Anonymous said...

Rafa is very patchy with transfers, some very good some terrible. He knew he was losing Alonso and to be fair what did he expect the way he treated him last season with the Barry fiasco. So why go and spend the budget on Johnson when it is obvious we also needed a quality experienced CH as well as a goalscorer to help Torres. Aquilani is no Alonso replacement so where is the creativity coming from. All the players we were ditching are still there and as a result the bench is weak. The Yanks have to go to enable the club to progress but will Benitez still be there. Its a complete mess.

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