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Opinion

The proof of Rafa Benitez failure record for Simon Jordan, Andy Gray and Richard Keys

4 weeks ago
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Rafa Benitez has become a headline name once again.

With a number of clubs looking for a new manager, the Spaniard has found himself linked with a number of vacancies.

Tottenham was one of them but now it looks as though Everton will be where Rafa Benitez next calls home.

Sky Sports having reported that their information is that after further talks took place, Rafa Benitez is now ‘on the brink’ of signing for the blue half of Merseyside.

It is fair comment of course for any fan, or indeed media pundit / journalist, to argue the case for or against any candidate, BUT things have gone really strange where Rafa Benitez is concerned.

You see countless journalists and pundits and other associated idiots, making out that for relatively not so successful clubs such as Tottenham and Everton, the idea of going for Rafa Benitez would be ridiculous.

Rafa Benitez likes FACTS and so do we, so I thought I would look back these last 20 years and see where Rafa Benitez and the clubs he has managed have finished in the league:

1st – 2001/02 Valencia (La Liga)

5th – 2002/03 Valencia (La Liga)

1st – 2003/04 Valencia (La Liga)

5th – 2004/05 Liverpool (Premier League)

3rd – 2005/06 Liverpool (Premier League)

3rd – 2006/07 Liverpool (Premier League)

4th – 2007/08 Liverpool (Premier League)

2nd – 2008/09 Liverpool (Premier League)

7th – 2009/10 Liverpool (Premier League)

2nd – 2010/11 Inter Milan (Serie A)

3rd – 2012/13 Chelsea (Premier League)

3rd – 2013/14 Napoli (Serie A)

5th – 2014/15 Napoli (Serie A)

2nd – 2015/16 Real Madrid (La Liga)

1st – 2016/17 Newcastle United (Championship)

10th – 2017/18 Newcastle United (Premier League)

13th – 2018/19 Newcastle United (Premier League)

9th – 2019 Dalian Pro (Chinese Super League)

7th – (Group A) 2020 Dalian Pro (Chinese Super League)

Some of the seasons such as Inter in 2010/11 and Real Madrid in 2015/16 Rafa Benitez wasn’t there until the end of the seasons but he played a significant part in where they finished, having done the pre-season and made signings etc.

Anyway, maybe now Rafa Benitez isn’t in the very top handful of football managers, BUT who else has such a consistent record of top four or five year after year at every club, not to mention in a number of countries. In a 14 year period, Liverpool ending up seventh in 2009/10 is the ‘bad year’ that stands out.

At Newcastle United, he couldn’t do anything more than finish first in his first full NUFC season, albeit in the Championship. Whilst with no net spend allowed at all across his three years at St James Park and having had to completely rebuild the team for the Championship and then get such minimal (no?) support from Mike Ashley on promotion, nobody can seriously think of mid-table finishes of 10th and 13th as failures. In comparison of course, Steve Bruce inherited Rafa’s disciplined (seventh best in both Benitez PL seasons) backline and has been allowed a net spend of £100m+ these past two seasons, in order to finish 13th and 12th.

Anyway, this is about Rafa Benitez.

Dalian Pro was always going to be about helping lay foundations for potential future success years down the line, not instant trophy winning success under Rafa. The set-up of Chinese football means only a very limited number of foreign players are allowed for each club and the overwhelming reliance is on the mainly Chinese homegrown part of your team, the situation being that the small number of big established successful clubs control almost all of the best Chinese players.

The advent of the virus impact made a difficult job all but impossible, as new restrictions made changes / progress even more difficult to achieve in the short-term.

Bottom line is that whatever the motivation for Rafa Benitez to go to China, the expectation of Dalian Pro in return was never for Benitez to deliver instant first team success on the pitch, it was the Spaniard trying to put building blocks in place for the future.

Rafa Benitez committed to Newcastle United in summer 2017 because he was convinced he had an achievable long-term project of sustained progress at NUFC mapped out, only to be completely undermined by Mike Ashley from the second transfer window onwards.

Promotion and then stability in the Premier League was relative success. What he could have achieved at Newcastle United if backed and allowed to get on with the job, we can only imagine.

Maybe with Everton we are set to find out…

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