Mails: Liverpool fans long for Benitez

Date published: Tuesday 5th January 2016 3:05

Well, that was very Rafa. Send your ruddy mails to


Leave Rafa alone: The Greatest Hits
Okay, although I’m pretty sure they guy is just fishing, Raul H Garcia has wound me up enough to bite…

The reason that Rafa is held up in such high regard by the majority of right minded/loyal Liverpool fans is very simple.

Not only did he bring home number 5, but he also made us the single most feared team in Europe throughout his reign.

Nobody wanted to draw us, and those who did met with similar fates – Real Madrid (stuffed 5-0 over 2 legs), Barca beaten at the Camp Nou, Inter, Juve, Arsenal, Chelsea – they all came and went. A second final and 2 more semis – in a 6 year reign?? Not too bad really. Especially given where we’ve been since he left!

Add this to the ‘fact’ (see what I did there?) that he built the best team I’ve seen at Liverpool since the 87-88 team (those players you were holding up as examples? Torres, Alonso et all – that’s right, Rafa brought them to the club in the first place!).

We came within a gnats pube of winning the title in 2009, finishing with a record number of points for a team not winning the title (Man U had to go on a record breaking run themselves just to fight off our challenge). He got us into the Champions League every season bar his final one (again, how have we done since?), usually bettering or equalling the final league position from the previous season.

Remember, all of this was done while war was being waged behind the scenes, and those two cancers were tearing the club apart.

The one major mistake Rafa made at Liverpool (amongst many smaller ones most managers make at some stage) was his fall out with Alonso. The man who dictated the tempo of our football. I (and many others) are convinced that Alonso stayed, we would have won our 19th league title under Rafa. Unfortunately It wasn’t to be.

I certainly don’t remember feeling that his football was dour when we were knocking 4 past Man Utd, or 5 past Real, or 7 past Birmingham/West Brom, or 8 past Besiktas…

But then, I was actually there, supporting Liverpool. Which I suspect Seṅor Garcia – you were not.

Rafa = LFC club legend.

Am actually relieved that spoilt brat of a football team have sacked him, so I can go back to hating them!
Dominic, Chelmsford (exiled Scouser, former Anfield season ticket holder, and sick of know-nothing tourists spouting nonsense)


What an earth is Raul H Garcia on about??
I LONG for the days when Benitez was our manager! I loved being in the top four every season. I loved the fact that we could attract world class players. I loved the fact the Rafa loved being at LFC. I loved the fact that despite two crooked American business men trying their best to rip the club that I adore to pieces Rafa tried his best to keep it all together. Most of all I loved that night in Istanbul when all our dreams came true.

I’m sorry Raul. But I cannot believe you know all the facts (!) if you cannot stand Rafa. He didn’t set the club back years, he brought us a taste of what the glory years were like. They used to call me a Rafapologist. I was proud to be one then. And I am still proud.


Dear Raul,

A couple of points:

* ​Ryan Babel was never the hottest prospect in Europe. Currently at 29 years of age, he should arguably be in his prime but is now plying his trade for Al Ain. As he left Liverpool 4-5 years ago, is still relatively young, surely his destroyed confidence should have returned by now and he should be ripping it up at the Camp Nou…………or perhaps he’s just not very good?

* “I recall after Liverpool defeated Milan thinking that the club had everything to move forward and win it all for years”. REALLY? Perhaps you should wake up and smell the coffee. Liverpool are not the powerhouse of the 70’s/80’s and unless a wealthy benefactor ploughs a bucket full of cash into the club, they’re not likely to be anytime soon. Perhaps Liverpool over-achieved due to Benitez’s tactical awareness?

* You seem to have forgotten that Liverpool also reached the CL Final again in 2007. How many times have they reached the final since Benitez left? Yeah.

* Benitez left in 2010 having won the FA Cup, Community Shield, Champions League and UEFA Super Cup – remind me what the “good offensive-minded manager such as Brendan” won? Yeah.

* “Huge inferiority complex against the other big clubs”? Ahem in 2004/05 LFC beat Leverkusen in the last 16, Juventus in the QF, Chelsea in the SF and AC Milan in the Final. In 2006/07, after coming through a tricky group stage including Galatasaray, Bordeaux and PSV, LFC beat Barcelona in the last 16, PSV in the QF, Chelsea in the SF and lost to AC Milan in the Final. In 2007/08 LFC ‘only’ managed to beat those ‘minnows’ Inter and Arsenal on the way to crashing out to Chelsea in the SF. they also beat Manchester United and Chelsea on their way to winning the FA Cup.

* Some of Beintez’s “transfer market disasters” include Alonso, Luis Garcia, Reina, Crouch, Agger, Kuyt, Arbeloa, Mascherano, Lucas, Torres & Skrtel. Admittedly, for every Mascherano there was a Voronin (or a Babel) but I very much doubt that all Hodgson, Dalglish & Rodgers signings were brilliant either. I could name more than a few.

* “He still couldn’t win us a Premier Leage title” Well, this may have escaped you but neither has anybody else for the past 25 odd years. PL record (5th, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 2nd & 7th – see point 10 below).

* “The era of negative managers has gone……….but Mourinho constantly won”. You then go on to laud Mourinho’s record over the last 10 years – “it’s unreal”! Oh.

* “Rafa failed miserably at Real Madrid”. Erm a 68% win record aint bad, not to mention the 56% win record at LFC (the amazing Rodgers managed 51%).

* “He left the club an absolute mess that set us back for years”. Have you ever heard of Hicks and Gillett?

* While Benitez may not have played the most expansive football, he brought us lots of success both at home and abroad. Remember when we were consistently qualifying for the CL?

Raaaaaaa (LFC and fact-finder)


Just a few ‘facts’ in response to Raul H.Garcia and his Rafa rant…

– Yes, Rafa did play, at times, some negative football. However, I bet you weren’t saying we were ‘negative’ when we beat Real 4-0 followed by United 4-1 in a week with Andrea Dossena scoring in both?

– Winning a match 10-2 perhaps shows that he isn’t infact a negative manager

– If you think Rafa was the problem at Real, you’re a clown. Look at the chaos over the previous years under Fiorentino Perez and you may find who the real problem is. And ‘failed’ at Real? In 3 months?

– 2008-08, we were pretty darn close to winning the league. Gerrard, Alonso, Mascherano and Torres were all made (much) better players by Rafa. And all (bar Gerrard) were sold for huge profits.

– Lots of pretty terrible transfers but there isn’t a manager out there who makes even 50% excellent transfers. Reina, Agger, Kuyt, Garcia, Alonso, Torres, Mascherano, Arbeloa, Lucas, Skrtel, Sterling all signed under him after all.

I’m not saying Rafa is the greatest manager out there, he has some serious flaws that have shown up in most of his jobs. However, he did some really great (and some not so great) things in his time at Liverpool and these shouldn’t be forgotten.
Elliot, Leicester


One of many no doubt in support of Rafa Benitez in the face of that frankly ludicrous email from Raul H Garcia.

Let’s start off with his misquote of Steven Gerrard. Whilst Gerrard has commented that he didn’t get on well personally with Rafa, professionally that he never rated him as a coach is patently not true….and I quote…. “He was the best tactical coach I worked with at Liverpool and England so I didn’t care what he called me”. Damning words from the skipper there. Just the best coach he ever worked with.

Let’s move on to quoting Ryan Babel. Yep. Ryan Babel. A player who, whilst promising in the youth ranks due to his power and pace, lacked any form of a footballing brain. It doesn’t surprise me that he didn’t want to defend – he wouldn’t understand the need for it. Jupp Heynkes was widely praised at Bayern for finally getting Robben to see the necessity of tracking back – it’s part of the game these days and that Rafa saw it early doors is not a stick to beat him with.

Now let’s address the allegations of him being a negative manager. The team that finished second in 08/09 played the all-round best football I have seen Liverpool play in the 20 years I’ve been a season ticket holder. We ripped United and Real to shreds in a week and but for an incredibly strong United team – peak Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez etc would have been champions. What followed was sad. At a time when we needed to strengthen City became mega rich and the financial crisis exposed our owners for what they were. Rafa played a key role in highlighting their broken promises and duplicitous nature and stayed loyal until the end. Did he make mistakes? Yes – as does every manager. Was he hamstrung? Undoubtably.

As for his time since LFC, that’s not for me to comment on as a Red but in my eyes he hardly failed at Chelsea, Napoli or Madrid but in the latter case paid the price that every Real manager eventually pays.

So Raul you’re not a disgrace because you celebrated the CL and then misguidedly attempt to eviscerate the manager, you’re a disgrace because you don’t appreciate that he is a man who gave his all to your club, a man whose family still live in the city and donate money to the Hillsborough support groups, a man who understands (unlike yourself) what you’ll never walk alone actually means. And a damn fine manager too (La Liga – twice, UEFA Cup – twice, FA cup and old big ears herself in improbable circumstances).
Tom (wouldn’t swop him for Klopp now though….), Liverpool


In response to Raúl H. García, Liverpool FC’s email regarding Rafa’s sacking. Granted he may not be everyone’s cup of tea but to take such glee in his sacking is in my opinion, poor taste. This is a guy who won Liverpool the Champion’s league in ’05 and took the club to another final in ’07. Something the club has not got remotely near since. He was also in charge when the club amassed their highest ever premier league points total during the 08/09 season, where 86 points got the club a 2ndplace finish.

Liverpool have won 15 league titles since the end of WWII. 86 points would have won 13 of those league titles. He should have won the league, he didn’t. That team though had the like of Reina, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Agger, Macherano, Alonso, Gerrard, Kuyt and Torres. Undoubtedly our best team since the last league title in 1990.Take a look at what’s there now!

What really grinds my gears though is your ‘undeniable’ point that Rafa is responsible for the mess that set the club back against it competitors. How wrong do you want to be? What put the club back was firstly resting on their laurels in the 90’s after two decades of dominance, and not having the foresight to move with the times as Arsenal and Man Utd did at the start of the Premier league era. The club sat and watched other clubs over take and modernise whilst they sat there congratulating themselves and polishing the trophy cabinet. Then as Rafa was building a strong Liverpool, a club that became regulars in the last 8 and last 4 of the champions league season upon season, we were sold to George Gillette and John Hicks who systematically started to ruin the club from the top down, weighing the club down with debt, undermining Rafa at every turn until the relationship became untenable (and replacing him with Hodgson!) and almost sent us into administration with their cowboys ownership and broken promises (We never did sign Snoogy Doogy!). To this day Liverpool are still playing catch up. To blame Rafa for that is plain wrong.
Rick, LFC Brighton


All this criticism of Rafa in this morning’s mailbox. Very unfair.

What about the Net Spend?
Thom, (Gawn Fishing) Newport


Real were the problem
Did anyone think Rafa Benitez would last the full season in charge of Real Madrid? It was so obviously not going to work – not because he’s a bad manager but because that job is virtually impossible; the standards are so ludicrously high that no manager could possibly succeed in the long-term. I do have a solution for them though – I’m sure Florentino Perez reads the mailbox, so take heed, Flo:

Keep Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti on permanent retainer and hire the odd flavour of the week in between.

First, you get Mourinho. He’ll come in and create his famed siege mentality using as few players as possible, completely wear them out and screw up the cups but win the league with games to spare. Next, he’ll totally alienate the fan base, offend the media and probably come up with some new outrageous example of gross misconduct. He’s won them a title and created his exit strategy: Jose out.

Ancelotti comes in and stabilises the team, makes some astute signings to improve the squad, and re-energises the players and fans. Real then win a couple of cups, European and/or domestic, but not quite win the league. Despite general support for him in the media and from the players: Carlo out.

Next, either a Real Madrid ex-player or the current flavour of the week from Europe will take over for about 6 months. Things will start off well but inevitably take a perceived turn for the worse, with the team there-or-thereabouts in the league and cups. Still not good enough, midway through the season: interim out.

Jose comes back in and implements a pragmatic style of football, improving their results and narrowly missing out on the league. Next season he signs a couple of expensive (25+ years old) players and sells or loans out a bunch of well-regarded younger players to reduce the size of his squad…and so on.

Both Mourinho and Ancelotti between them have gotten them what the board demands, without being able to combine it on their own, so the two of them are the perfect manager for Real Madrid. It’s ludicrous, of course, but this is basically what they’re doing anyway; they might as well just come out and admit it, save the bother of giving their managers long-term contracts.
Ted, Manchester


Daniel Cambridge asks why people still go to Real Madrid despite being abused, manipulated, then promptly spat out like a corked wine.

Now, I was watching a documentary about lads mags yesterday, and a lot of the models in FHM sort of acknowledged that they were being massively objectivised, but on the other hand, they were unashamedly thrilled to look brilliant, go to amazing holiday resorts for the shoots, and basically be plunged into the big time, in a big way.

I imagine that Real Madrid is very similar. You know they might treat you badly, and you know they’re unhealthily obsessed with (body) image, but that certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t a great deal of fun. You’re working with some of the best players in the world, at possibly the most famous club in the world, and it’s in Sunny Spain! OK, you’ll get sacked (if you’re a manager), and the fans will wave pathetic little hankies at you if you don’t do a goal roughly every 3.6 seconds (if you’re player), (although bet Rafa prefers the Real Madrid fans treatment to the Chelsea ones), but when it’s all over, you can sit the grandkids on the knee and say “for 3 ½ months I was living the insanely hedonistic lifestyle of a Real Madrid employee… the newspapers wrote about me constantly, I was on billboards, my office was made out of gold bullion, and I experienced things no mortal should really get to experience”. It’s a no-brainer really.

Also, I’m still chuckling at Minty LFC’s amazing knee jerker to Liverpool losing a match, hot off the heels of his pronouncement that Liverpool would finish above Man United! Fickleness of the most deliciously high order. I bet Henry VIII was a Liverpool fan.
Shaun Livingston


Noble cause
The MC got it right when it answered Ross A about Mark Noble’s zero England caps — he isn’t quite good enough. In fact, he’s not good enough in a very particular way.

Noble is OK at everything he does. And that’s the problem. He doesn’t have a special skill that would fit him for a particular position at international level. Compare Scott Parker, who wasn’t an exceptional player either, but was pretty good at tackling and breaking up play. That was enough to get him a fair number of caps at defensive midfielder.

Noble, on the other hand, doesn’t have a key feature to his game, except hard work and the ability to cover a lot of ground. He might be a bit unlucky not to have any caps at all, since those sorts of players sometimes get a call-up, but he was never going to make it at senior level.

I’m not knocking him. He’s an average Premier League player who on his good days can be very useful (and on his bad days a liability). As near as I can tell, that’s all.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


In response to Ross A, who cannot understand why Mark Noble hasn’t won a full cap for England. Here are 5 reasons :

* He’s too slow, watching him play, I have seen Tractors move/turn quicker then him.
* His distribution of the ball is quite poor, (admittedly he put in a good cross for Carroll over the weekend), but anyone who has seen him take a corner will agree.
* He gives away to many free kicks ( again due to lack of pace)
* At international level , the ball needs to be moved a lot quicker, which Noble cannot do
* Last point, there are a lot players ahead of him in the midfield role, Sterling, Wilshere, Barkley, Ox, Carrick, Alli, Delph,
Nik ( yes I am a West Ham fan!)


As a fellow West Ham supporter I have to agree with Ross A in this morning’s mailbox that Mark Noble has been terribly unfortunate not to receive any kind of call up to an England squad. I’d argue that he probably isn’t good enough for a regular England berth, and he hasn’t been quite as good as recent calendar years in 2015. Yet he has a great range of passing, leadership qualities on the field and is a solid holding midfielder who is fantastic from the penalty spot. It also makes a mockery of the under 21 system where he captained the England under 21’s to a European final. Would a Germany or Spain national manager have ignored that? On a larger level it’s perhaps an example of the short term-ism that i’d suggest England have had internationally for a while now

I’m sure that supporters of other mid table sides feel the same about a number of their players, but it really does come down to who Noble he plays for. I’d also argue that Cresswell and Tompkins also deserve at least a call up. If they played for Spurs or Liverpool they’d be a shoe in. You only have to see average players like Ryan Mason or Jonjo Shelvy who rack up half of dozen decent performances and they are jettisoned into the squad.
Tom B-G (We’ve got Payet)


I’m sure you’ll get loads of these but Ross A, Noble hasn’t had a cap for England because: Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard, Scholes, Milner, Barry, Hargreaves, Carrick, Wilshere… It goes on like that for a bit till you get to Mark but i’m sure you get the point, he’s just never been good enough.
Dave, Manchester


Pochettino to United. Or Chelsea. Again
I have never written to the mailbox even though I have been reading it for the last few years! I am just wondering why is/was Mauricio Pochettino’s name not in the daily gossip for the United (and even Chelsea) manager posts.

He has over performed with Southampton, has managed to make the most out of mediocre players and promoted new players to the first team (see Lambert, Clyne, Lallana, Shaw, Chambers, Lovren, Jay Rodriguez). He managed to sell most of them at a ridiculously high price and smoothly replaced them while keeping the team at the same level and playing easy to watch, smooth football.

He is now doing the same at Tottenham (Kane, Alli, Dier,) while the team plays attractive and organized football.

He was never in the press for the wrong reasons and never attracted more than his fair share of publicity during football games (unlike Mourinho).

His only “weak” point I can see is that he is not proven in Europe, which however is not something that MUFC should be prioritizing right now.

So I am really puzzled why Pochettino’s name is/was never mentioned alongside the potential long term targets of MUFC alongside the name e.g. of Giggs and even LVG!

I mean I would understand ignoring him while aiming for someone like Guardiola or Simeone or any other “young” manager who has done it at the european level but Giggs??

Come on…
Makis. Nicosia, Cyprus


Jermain man
Seeing as John Lawless has called me out, I will expand upon my qualified criticism of Jermain Defoe yesterday. I will say again I think he is a good player, but not the elite level player so many of the less cerebral and shoutier pundits are convinced he is. It’s telling as well that one such fan of Defoe’s was Tim Sherwood, who managed him at Spurs and sang his praises, yet sold him and preferred to keep Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado. Another case of the Proper Football Man(ager)’s do as I say, not as I do.

I’m not convinced Defoe would walk into the Crystal Palace team – not because he isn’t a good player, but because he isn’t the right sort of player. The Glaziers have been at their best this season in a with Connor Wickham up top. I know, I’m surprised too. In a 4-2-3-1, what he does is create space for the players behind him to make chances and have shots at goal.

One legacy of Total Football, and why many Continental coaches who are influenced by it get chances as the top jobs and English managers don’t, is because they appreciate nuances of roles. A lot of high profile English managers often seem to oversimplify different positions down to their basic roles: goalkeeper = saves, defenders = tackles, midfielders = passes, strikers = shots/goals. Those (of any nationality) realise that there is merit in having outfield players capable of more than one of the aforementioned disciplines: the evolution of attacking full-backs and defensive midfielders are testament to this.

As usual, there are two ways to look at it. If your team is built around having a small man with a poacher’s instinct up top, Defoe is your man; however, if your best players are in the attacking midfield bracket, then Wickham is a better bet. Different players for different types of team.

The literary Ed Quoththeraven


Worthy of the Gigg?
While I agreed with the most part of the apprehensions in the recent report about Ryan Giggs not having done enough to merit becoming the next United manager, there was one part of the article that bothered me. Your claim that ‘Giggs hasn’t done enough on the touchline except standing up’ is unmerited.

How would you judge whether or not an ‘assistant manager’ is doing his job? He doesn’t have any (apparent) control over the substitutions and formation, isn’t at the liberty to make tactical tweaks on his own. All he does, and has the authority to do, is relay his boss’s instructions to the players on the field or those ready to come on. He probably has to stand up so much because of all those Dear Diary entries Van Gaal has to finish each game. Another thing that he can (and should) do is give his input on anything he observes and hope that it penetrates that stubborn Dutch head, and we have no solid evidence over how well he does this part. Name any assistant manager from history who was so influential because of his wondrous in-game heroics? None? Me neither.

Although I doubt it, maybe the hierarchy has seen what he tries to do off the field during training sessions, etc and has been impressed.

There are many sticks to beat Giggs with, but this isn’t one of them.
Qasim, Pakistan.
(MC – The story never said ‘Giggs hasn’t done enough on the touchline except standing up’. The story asked: ‘What has Giggs shown on the touchline in his one-and-a-half years as an assistant manager to prove he would be capable of taking over one of the biggest clubs in world football? Must be all the standing up he does.’ Very subtle, but very important difference. And what has he shown? As you yourself stated, we known not of his control over tactics or substitutions, nor much of anything else that would indicate he is ready-made for such a huge job.)


The BIG football question
The picture of Lukaku in yesterdays email reminded me of something which always bugs me at this time of year:

Do the players actually get any benefit from wearing gloves? The gloves players usually seem to wear are woolly types (The ones in the picture seem to be). When wool gets wet it takes an age to dry and certainly in sub zero conditions there would be little drying. This would therefore mean that a players fingers are cold as the wet wool wont retain any heat and therefore any benefit from the gloves disappears straight away. It seems that an American football style leather glove would be more preferable. I may be wrong but didn’t Chimbonda wear some gloves which had grip on the palm for better throw ins?

Unless I’m missing something this seems like the most pointless thing in the world. And don’t get me started on short sleeves with gloves……..
Jim Barnett


The F365 hit list
Reading the mail from John Lawless this morning on the F365 position on Defoe got me thinking about the players on F365 “hit list”, i.e. the players that this great website doesn’t rate and isn’t afraid to say it. (Just for a bit of fun) The players I can think of that are on the list are:

Kyle Walker
Andros Townsend
Jermain Defoe
Michael Carrick (although this has waned over the years)
…I’ve probably noticed these ones in particular as I’m a Spurs fan, but there must be a few more? Walcott? Rooney?

There’s obviously only one player on the F365 “love” list: Big Rom.
Kevin, THFC, Chertsey
(MC – ‘They hate my baby Wayne Rooney!’ cries Shrimpton)

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