I don’t like Rafa Benitez, regular readers will know that. However, despite appearances, it’s not just that he is the manager of Liverpool that earns him so little admiration from me. I genuinely think that not only is he a poor manager who makes poor tactical decisions, plays his players out of position and usually fails big time in the transfer market, he’s also a really sore loser. His rant last season about Alex Ferguson clearly showed that he feels intimidated by the Scotsman and actually sabotaged his own season, and now he has made a fool of himself once again.
The BBC has reported that Benitez has described this summer’s transfer activity as “crazy” and that he believes that “It is all money, money, money now”. That in itself isn’t a foolish statement, it’s stating the obvious, but that’s allowed. The thing is though, that Benitez implied that Liverpool were unable to compete financially in the big spending climate in the Premier League, so essentially he is bemoaning the fact that he can’t go and splash the big money for players like Real Madrid and Man City are doing.
Perhaps he has forgotten then, that he himself has spent £17m to bring Glen Johnosn to Anfield already this summer, a price that is probably more “crazy” than the £80m transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo, pound for pound. The Portugese winger is a match winner and will sell millions of shirts for Madrid, and though I believe £80m was obscene, Madrid will get it back. Liverpool though, spent £17m on a full back with a lot yet to prove. He had a good season last year but has been shown up in the international arena and couldn’t cut it during his time at Chelsea. Which do you think is the crazier transfer?
Benitez also seems to be forgetting that it was he who spent £26m on Fernando Torres just a couple of seasons ago, in what turned out to be a great signing. However, many clubs had approached Atletico about Torres’ availability, but it was only Liverpool who were prepared to meet the extravagant asking price to secure his services. That was a rare success for Benitez though, and indeed his recent history of transfer dealings are usually absolute flops, summed up by the Robbie Keane debacle, where he paid over the odds, played him out of position and then sold him off on the cheap.
This sort fo activity is not the sort of activity that then gives Benitez license to come out and criticise other clubs for their “crazy” spending this summer. While I agree that Real Madrid have spent far too lavishly, for Benitez to make that accusation just marks him down as a stone cold hypocrite. For years he has been throwing money left, right and centre and has failed to see much reward from it, and it is only now that the owners are in financial difficulty that Benitez has decided that actually, spending money isn’t really fair and that everyone should stop.
As an Everton fan, this really grinds my gears. It’s not because it’s Liverpool’s manager moaning, but because it’s the manager of a rich club moaning, while I’m a supporter of a poor club. I’ve followed the Premier League for many years and seen how the wealth has taken off and been shared, for the most part, between the top clubs, of which mine has never been one. Everton have never had much money to spend, whereas Liverpool, and the rest of the big four, have had plenty.
But we haven’t complained. Yes, we’ve thrown jealous glances their way and oft been full of bitter resentment, but we’ve never suggested that they were doing anything wrong by it. If we’d had that money, we’d have spent it too. As it was, we just had to suck it up and get on with it, and as an Evertonian I had the good fortune to see my club appoint a fantastic manager in David Moyes, who has set about doing more without money than Rafa achieved with money.
So to see Rafa, with his pockets now emptied, come out and suggest that the other clubs are spending too much and to imply that his poor club doesn’t stand a chance because of that just makes me angry. He has been throwing money down the drain for years now, signing useless players for lots of money, or signing good players and playing them out of position. The amount of money Rafa has spent during his time at Anfield is colossal, especially when compared to most other Premier League clubs.
So yes Rafa, it is crazy that clubs are spending £80m pound on one player, and it’s crazy that Man City may hoodwink some of the world’s best players into donning their shirt, but that is just the way it is. You should know that better than anyone because you’ve been throwing crazy money around all over the place for a good few years and to be quite honest I’m surprised you haven’t bankrupted the clubs owners before now.
So shut up Rafa, stop your bloody whining. Football is part and parcel of the game now, and when you haven’t got any, it makes things more difficult. If you haven’t got any cash and you can’t compete with the clubs who do financially well then you’re just going to have to actually try and become an effective manager, to try and get the best out of your team and stop relying on the only two world class players you have to pull you through every season.
“Things have changed” he said, and he noted that you “have to adapt to a situation”. Well done Rafa, for most of us, things changed years ago, and we have adapted. You’ve been living in a dream world for the past few years, so welcome back to reality. But careful, if you don’t actually figure out how to become a competent manager then your return to reality will come with a mighty bump indeed.