For the first since taking charge of Liverpool in the summer of 2004, manager Rafael Benitez has admitted what most of us had known for much of the time: that he finds the English Premiership much difficult than the UEFA Champions League. Liverpool defeated Inter Milan 2-0 in the last 16, first leg match at Anfield on Tuesday and in all likelihood are already through to the quarter-finals but they are actually fighting for the prized fourth spot in the Premiership once again.
Rafa’s tactics have failed to deliver the goods in the Premiership season after season while in Europe, he has been marvellous. The former Valencia coach has now confessed that he is still discovering about the system in England and says:
In Europe you can approach a game tactically in a different way.In England it is a different style of football and more difficult for the manager to influence what goes on. It is not as simple to influence the game with tactics in England the way it is elsewhere in Europe.
Liverpool have always been a Cup team under Rafa Benitez although at the start of the season, there were several football pundits (including this writer) who thought that the Reds could mount a serious challenge for the Premiership. So what now for Liverpool in the Premiership? When can Rafa understand the Premiership fully and deliver the league crown to the Kop? More importantly, can he actually win the Premiership with the current crop of players? The jury is all out on the matter.