There’s no doubt that Rafa Benitez is an astute manager. He’s won the Champions League and FA Cup since coming to Anfield, produced a run of decent Premiership campaigns on limited funds and proven himself to be an astute tactician, particularly in Europe.
But since the departure of Paco Ayesteran at the start of last season, Benitez has made a series of massive blunders. He rotated the squad too much early on in the season, fielded weakened sides in the domestic cups, played Andriy Veronin and only got his act together once it was clear European qualification was in doubt.
Now with midfield star Xabi Alonso, arguably Liverpool’s most creative player, being sold off to Juventus to fund the purchase of Villa’s Gareth Barry, Peter Crouch threatening to sit out the last year of his contract and then leave on a free, one wonders if Benitez hasn’t really caught too much summer sunshine. Is he losing the plot?
Most Liverpool fans would be sorry to see Crouch leave. He’s done a brilliant job when called upon over the last year and it’s understandable the lad’s angry having had a £15 million transfer fee slapped across his back.
But there’s no point unsettling the team because of the Crouchy situation.
Rafa needs to sort out what’s happening with Crouch quickly or he’s likely to have one very unhappy bunny casting a downer over the dressing room next season.
As for letting Xabi Alonso go, Benitez is borderline stupid. The Spanish midfielder is pure class and although he struggled with injury this season, when given his chance, he produced the kind of sublime creative passing that’s always been the Liverpool trademark. Would Gareth “pass the ball to the side” Barry really be a significant improvement on Alonso?
With Deggen having already agreed a deal with Liverpool, and Andrea Dossena set to sign, Reds fans won’t have been overly excited by Benitez’s dealings in the transfer market. In fact, the departure of Alonso would be bigger news than any incoming transfers thus far.
If you’re listening, Rafa, give us a sign that Liverpool are pushing forward? Why should we have confidence in your stuttering judgement?