A week that started off with immense speculation that Juve might want Benitez to take charge, ended with Rafa not totally rulling out a move to Italy. He did say hes happy here, time and time again, but the other comments just make you stop and wonder.
I am confident that he will be in charge until the end of the season. But whether we like it or not, don’t be surprised if he leaves for Italy in the summer.
I still respect Benitez, and that won’t change even if he decides to leave. But that may well be the case. He has been with us for 5-6 years now, stuck with us through thick and thin like a true fan, and even if he leaves, he certainly want be turning his back on us. He didn’t leave when Real wanted him, because he loved it here, but he may very well leave in the summer, in his and the clubs best interest. Not because he has lost love for this club.
Looking at Rafa during matches, as usual, not much emotion. But just his general body-language speaks alot. He too is dissappointed, but more than that, he is frustrated. He has tried everything but nothing seems to work. Our luck has haunted us misrebaly this season. And no one, not Rafa, not the players or the fans can do anything about it. We can’t control how luck affects us.
Last season we came so close to winning the league, and were unfortunate not too. No use cribbing about that now, but I think Rafa thinks he took us as far as he could last season. It just looks like Rafa has lost confidence in his own ability. I still believe that he is the man in the long-term, but probably the man himself doesn’t think that.
Put yourself in Rafa’s shoes; imagine going into a dressing room, week in and week out, telling the players to keep faith, encouraging them to forget the past loses, and look forward to the next game. And then have to do that all over again. He is probably growing tired himself. He must have evaluated all his possible options of what he can do, try a different approach, but even the best of formations and team-selections that look so good on paper, don’t seem to get the results in reality. He has probably even tried different apporaches in his man-management style. And it may have worked, he may have lifted the players confidences, and they come out all guns blazing in matches, control the play, look the dominant team until it all comes crashing down at the final whistle. Just look at the Arsenal game; I don’t think any team has bullied Arsenal this season like we did in the first half. But second half, something went wrong. The Man City game, dominant again, but two quickfire goals from Man City, and the final scoreline didn’t do justice to the performance. Even the Stoke game, an injury ravaged side that played very well in a tricky fixture, didn’t get the result they deserved. Players like Kyrgiakos, Degen who don’t get too many first-team chances desreved to get 3 points for their performance. But that hasn’t happened. All season. The league-table doesn’t speak the complete truth. We deserved to be higher up the table, not in 5th spot. But bad-luck, injuries, refs, outside interferences havent helped us at all.
The point that I am trying to make is that Rafa may have grown frustrated with this, no matter what he tries; it just doesn’t seem to work out. He would have expected us to carry on from last season. And our squad at the beginning of the season was certainly capable of lifting the league title. But it’s been unfortunate for us. Does Rafa want to go through this all over again next season? Maybe not. He may want a new challenge. A different experience maybe. And who can blame him for that.
Either way, I still truly support Rafa, and will continue to respect him no matter where his future lies.