As insightful as ever, The Scum published an article today entitled “13 Blunders that have exposed the Benitez Myth”. Now before you decry me for buying/reading The Scum newspaper, I happened upon this article while in the loo and in need of toilet roll, so it served its purpose. Anyway, back to what I was saying. I am going to look at each of these ‘blunders’ individually and hopefully debunk most if not all of them:
1. Skrtel playing at right back against Middleborough last season – True but we did not have any fit full backs and he did not play that badly. This was a game we dominated but could not convert any of our chances. Had we converted our chances, playing Skrtel at full back would not be singled out as a ‘blunder’ – DEBUNKED
2. Robbie Keane Saga – This was a disaster. Not Rafa’s decision to buy him but it was his decision to play him or not as the case may have been. Robbie did not start his Anfield career very well and did not fit into Rafa’s system but if Keane had scored goals regularly for Liverpool, Rafa would have found a team to accommodate him. £9M for a 6 month loan deal – expensive way to make a point but Keane’s lack of goals did not help his cause! – DEBUNKED (almost)
3. Peter Crouch – Wanted first team football, was not happy with spending any time on the bench and had to move on. Would not get in ahead of Torres and no room in Rafa’s system for a second striker – DEBUNKED
4. Torres left on bench for stalemate with Stoke – Even I cannot defend this except Torres stats at the time were 6 goals scored, all away from home, and all from the 55th minute onwards. So perhaps, Rafa had these stats in mind.
5. Yossi taken off against Lyon – He had run himself into the ground and had nothing left to give – DEBUNKED
6. Voronin – He is not good enough but he was a free transfer and scored a valuable goal away to Toulouse that helped us qualify for Champions’ League group stages 2007. Does OK in Germany though. Mistake but has not cost us anything except his wages – DEBUNKED
7. Rafa’s Rant – Ill-timed but well said. Similar to Keegan’s “I’d love it” speech, had we continued our form after this rant, we would have won the league and it would be remembered in a positive light rather than the negative light it is now seen.
8. Paco Ayesteran – Should not have let him go but his loss has not been felt. Best league season produced AFTER his departure – DEBUNKED
9. Michael Owen – Snubbed us twice, Rafa had pride and was not going to be snubbed a third time. Could do a job for us but Rafa was right not to offer Judas a life line – DEBUNKED
10. Pre-occupied with not losing rather than winning games – This is only an issue now because we are struggling to win games with a squad decimated with injuries. A negative team does not finish the top scoring side team in the league as we did last season and only Chelsea and Arsenal have scored more than us this season – DEBUNKED
11. Alonso – Big loss but ultimately, Xabi wanted away. Fell out with Benitez over time off while Xabi’s wife was pregnant with their child. Real was always Alonso’s dream move and £20M profit it was good business. He was always destined to return to Spain so he could raise his family – DEBUNKED
12. Failure to buy second proven striker – They just have this completely wrong. Budgetry constraints meant that Rafa could never compete for his targets. Even Torres came at a cost to Rafa’s squad! – DEBUNKED
13. Crouch and Bellamy came off the bench in Athens when we needed goals – I have already dealt with Crouch in point 3 above. Bellamy is a very good but disruptive player plus he was sold to partly finance Torres deal. Who would you prefer Bellamy or Fernando? – DEBUNKED
11 out of 13 ‘blunders’ have been disproven so that leaves just 2 blunders in 5 years, not bad for a manager who doesn’t know wat he is doing!!