The British media have always been on my bad books for their illogical thrashing of Rafael Benitez. It mounted to farcical proportions at the end of Northampton defeat.This incensed me into finding enough time to write my 2nd article on Liverpool FC.(I am grateful to them for that)
BBC Live Text quoted Jan Molby as saying
But for Liverpool to lose, it was absolutely unthinkable before. They were surely always going to make sure they would win this game, weren’t they? I think we are seeing the legacy of the Rafael Benitez reign right here,
Paul Tomkins articulately dissected that immature argument in his classic way
When Liverpool lost away at Championship Burnley in 2005, it wasn’t blamed on the squad Rafa inherited. It was because “he didn’t respect the FA Cup”. When Liverpool finished 5th that season, with just 58 points (only a little less than in the previous two seasons), it was because “he didn’t understand English football”, not because he inherited Diao, Cheyrou, Diouf, Le Tallec, Traore, Biscan, Medjani, et al, or was given Cissé as a replacement to peak-years Owen.
I would not go into whose fault it was as a very much more accomplished and able football critic analyzed it expertly. I am here to give my opinion on Roy Hodgson’s status in Liverpool history in which he has rightly earned a place for 5 consecutive European victories-which is unprecedented.
For me, Rafael Benitez is Liverpool’s greatest Manager ever in Europe. In an era where Liverpool were/are far behind big spending British and European clubs, he gave the team a European Cup, another Final and a Semi-Final. He also consistently placed Liverpool on top 5 of European seedings.
But records have now placed Hodgson in a place enviable to all managers. It is evident to every football enthusiast that Roy has got the easiest of 5 matches that a club of Liverpool’s stature can get in Europe. With a great help from Infostradasports http://www.infostradasports.com/ I was able to glean that Benitez’s first 5 matches were
Grazer AK, Grazer AK, AS Monaco, Olympiacos and Deportivo La Coruña (Aug-Oct 2004)
And http://myliverpoolfc.org/info.htm provides us the results list of 2004-05 season which says
10.08 AK Graz-Liverpool (qualifier – 1.l.) 0-2 Gerrard (23, 79)
24.08 Liverpool-AK Graz (qualifier – 2.l.) 0-1
15.09 Liverpool-Monaco 2-0 Cisse (22), Baros (84)
28.09 Olympiakos-Liverpool 1-0
19.10 Liverpool-Deportivo La Coruna 0-0
Clearly Rabotinicki, Trabzonspor and Steaua Bucuresti are NOT Monaco (Previous year European Finalists), Olympiacos and Deportivo.
It is interesting to see at the rest of the results in group stage of Liverpool in Benitez’s first season. 1-0 Away loss at Monaco followed by now legendary Olympiacos match at Anfield which ended 3-1.
In essence, Benitez conceded 4 goal in his 1st 9 matches in Europe as Liverpool manager. A defence with just 2 internationals Hyypia and Carragher (others-Josemi, Traore and Riise (not estd at that time)). Roy has in his back-line has 4 established interntationals of Carra, Skrtel, Agger and Johnson in addition to one of world’s top 5 goal keepers. I think that is ‘a Legacy’ that Gerrard Houllier did not leave for Benitez. Add to that Kuyt, Torres, Ngog,Pacheco et al-the ammo he has been so generously provided as a ‘worthless’ legacy by Benitez. It would be blasphemy to think anything but complete victories in group stages with.But football is a game of changing fortunes.The coming weeks of European fixtures will show definitely where Roy Hodgson stands in terms of Liverpool’s illustrious former managers.
I find it difficult to understand what leads to a biased criticism against Rafael Benitez even after months of leaving the British Isles
Is it the difficulty to accept for the British media at large that British managers are finding it a tedious task to maneuver a club through Europe? I honestly dread Roy Hodgson would prove me right. I hope he proves me wrong.