Friday, 4 June 2010
I use the word mourn purposely as scouring the headlines yesterday morning was like reading the obituaries. "Rafa leaves" one, "Benitez departs Anfield" another. What do you mean leave? Depart? Where to? I ask in vain, like some one in a state of shock at the loss of a close one. He rests in piece on the other side now, a morbid, and not so comforting thought that fills my cerebral.
I may not have been Benitez biggest fan, and in fact at times I found his tactics baffling and his repressed persona alienating, but after 6 years at the helm of Anfield, that commenced with that epic night in Istanbul, its is hard not to feel aggrieved that the poor performance of one season has outweighed the accomplishments of the other five.
What makes the departure all the more difficult to accept, is that I feel ultimately, due to his own pride, Rafa fell on his own sword. As I have said before, that "Guarantee" he made under mounting pressure in the beginning of the year, that Liverpool would still finish it the top 4 would come back to haunt him, should he fail to deliver. Bollocks to the lack of funds, or the serious injuries to key players such as Gerrard and Torres. Bollocks to the incompetent owners that have made Liverpool less about football and more about bullshit off the field of play. No, This was about Benitez, the high standards he places upon himself and that such is the dignity of the man, that he would not go against his own words, regardless of the self deprecating conclusion.
Had Benitez gone against his own words, and not shown such dignity, arguably he could demanded the full entitlement of $16m for the contract he signed only last year. Instead, indirectly, he has covered up the incompetency of the owners by agreeing to leave by mutual consent, which has far less financial consequences for Liverpool, than firing him would have. He appreciated the dire financial situation at Anfield, and would not want to see his departure further broaden the burden of debt. Its a shame that the American owners, Hicks and Gillette can not articulate anywhere near the same kind of dignity, given the cruel irony, that it was they who signed Benitez on the long contract last season, when everything was Rosie.
Which perfectly illustrates the deeper problem that lies at Anfield. Whether Benitez should have left or not is besides the point, as his departure is not the remedy to what are the systemic issues at the heart of the club; the incompetent owners. I fear that with Hicks and Gillette still in ownership, Liverpools fortunes ahead may get worse before they improve. Put it this way, as a manager, would you want to be employed by two idiots that have little to no idea of what they are doing? A question which, in itself raises further issues on exactly how, and who are they going to attract to such a disorganised outfit??
I hope that my personal pick for the job, Roy Hodgson can see beyond the problems that still remain at Liverpool, and look instead to the future, when hopefully Liverpool will be rid of the shackles that are Hicks and Gillette. Once that point is realised Liverpool can start rebuilding properly.
For Benitez, I wish farewell, and I am sure he will not struggle to hard to find new employers. I hear Inter knocking. Where ever he ends up, the grateful recipient will end up with a legend in their hands. I shall never forget Istanbul and the FA Cup final against West Ham. In typical Benitez fashion I close with his last quote for Liverpool,"Thank you so much once more and always remember: You'll never walk alone."