How did Rafael Benitez earn his undeserved reputation?

Harry Kettle

If you ask any Newcastle United fan, or Liverpool fan for that matter what they think of Rafael Benitez they’d probably tell you that they’d sell their own wife to keep him at their club. Unfortunately, what they don’t realise is that over the course of his career the Spaniard’s shortcomings have far outweighed his greatness.

Let’s get the positives out of the way first. Yes, his achievements with Valencia and Liverpool exceeded expectations, but from that point on as the stage got bigger Benitez’s overall quality and contributions as manager got smaller and smaller.

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Following Liverpool’s European heroics, Benitez let his ego get the better of him in search of the club’s first ever Premier League trophy. He went from understated genius to cocky twat in a period of just over a year, and after being dragged into a battle of mind games with Sir Alex Ferguson it was clear that he wasn’t the man to get the job done at Anfield.

Then he went over to Italy to manage Inter Milan. Now, it should be known that the anticipation for success at the San Siro was large considering Inter were the reigning Serie A and Champions League title-holders, but good god did Benitez underachieve.

He won two relatively pointless trophies in the form of the Italian Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, following which he was dismissed due to a mixture of unacceptable demands and a string of poor results. So you know, the stuff of greatness obviously.

His tenure at Chelsea came next, with fans and media scrutinizing him from the word go. Sure he won the Europa League, but his collapse in terms of the League Cup, FA Cup and Premier League left Blues fans with a sour taste in their mouth following his departure from Stamford Bridge. Basically, all he had to do was live up to expectations with a great pedigree and he cocked it up.

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So what about his time at Napoli and Real Madrid? Failure failure failure. The same old lather, rinse and repeat story was clear to see as a disconnect with fans and a lack of connection with players led to yet more misery for teams under Benitez’s guidance. That isn’t the mark of a historically great manager – not even close.

No matter what he does in a position like he’s in now, where it’s pretty much impossible to fail, Benitez should forever be remembered more for his shortcomings in this sport as opposed to his brief moments of success. Oh, and when I say brief, I mean it pretty much all happened at the start of his career before his ego grew ten sizes.