The NewsNow Network is a fantastic piece of web software. It has been around now since the late 1990s and I was one of its initial users with a Liverpool website I had put up in 2000 or so. I periodically watch out for new entries in the Liverpool FC section and occasionally I stumble on poor articles, written by the same mischief makers with the sole intent of proposing slanderous attacks on the great institution which is Liverpool FC.
I had no intent of writing another column prior to the game against Fulham, but the article published on www.dexden.co.uk entitled Liverpool – Has Benitez put you back 5 years? must be heavily condemned as it portrays false statements, unbelievably poor pigeon arguments.
Now that all looks rosy at Anfield, those who never had Liverpool FC at heart are suddenly panic-driven and resorting to pitiful attempts to discredit a person who is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of Liverpool’s most loved ex-managers, Rafa Benitez. The majority of fans will always hold a special place in their heart for the Spaniard who threw us a life-line and dragged the club out of obscurity. He put us back on the map of Europe’s elite football clubs – instantly – by leading us to a fifth European Cup victory, an unforgettable event. He built up the spine of the team which is currently fighting it all out to rectify the damage brought about by three years of mis-management by the previous power brokers at the club. He was rarely given support by the former – his work could have never been shielded by that aura of hostility perpetrated by poor club management. Yet he is again denigrated by those who criticise with venom in their fangs.
What Benitez brought to the club doesn’t require too much explanation. He may have faltered, at times, in the transfer market, but as I once pointed out, all managers get a few transfers wrong; it’s part-and-parcel of the player-trading business. The columnist mentions two players in the LIST of flops bought by Benitez, Babel and Aquilani. Let us start with the latter. AA is a quality player who simply couldn’t adjust to life on Merseyside, and the story ends there. A pity, yes, but you can’t do much if a player prefers to plough his trade in another country. He has been exceptional and instrumental at Juventus this season. Babel was an exciting prospect but the project with the ex-Ajax player simply didn’t work out. Transfers involving players who play in a non-English league are always tricky and one can only hope that players adapt quickly to the style, speed and aggressiveness of the Premier League.
Benitez brought in the likes of Skrytel (a bargain transfer), Torres, Agger, Kuyt, Mascherano – a transfer which started off as a loan deal and then a permanent one after months of speculation and reluctance by the previous owners to cough up the £18m necessary – just to name a few. One can also add Lucas, who took his time to settle down, but is now proving to be a worthy nuisance to opponents in the midfield hot spot and Jonjo Shelvey who looks geared into being the future Gerrard.
Benitez’s influence was not team-wide. It was club-wide. He improved the academy and brought back Kenny Dalglish as a club ambassador – a move which holds tremendous weight and importance for the future of this football club. Kenny may have been out of football management for a number of years but those months spent at the club prior to his engagement as Liverpool’s manager have exposed him to club affairs, players and instilled in him that eagerness to get involved, again, in top-flight football management.
Liverpool do need one or two additions, but wholesome changes are not required. It is important to look ahead and make plans for the day when the likes of Carragher and Gerrard pack up, but Liverpool need not worry as foundations are already in place. Dalglish’s influence, barely two weeks after taking over has had a catalyst effect, turning a team previously in dormant state to one wanting to erupt in, and looking forward to every game.
See you next time.