Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool Legacy Examined: What Has the Spaniard Done for Us?

If Rafa left Liverpool tomorrow, how would the Anfield faithful remember him?

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Sports - September 25, 2007

A kneejerk reaction is typically defined as an overreaction to an
event. These reactions are typically frowned upon as they are usually
made by the uninformed. We, Liverpool supporters, are not unfamiliar
with them. The media love them as they build hype and intrigue which
increases their sales. Ex-players love them as it gets them more time
on tv by talking controversially. Pundits love them because everyone
loves a cynic.

This season has been ripe with them. Almost every other game there has
been a catastrophe of some kind either on the field, in the ref’s
mind, on our injury table, in Rafa’s mind, or behind the scenes. Some
of us are sick of them. Some of us are the culprits of spreading them.
The problem is that when knees jerk this much one has to start
wondering whether it is the final death throws or the spasms of a sick
and weakened creature.

And Liverpool Football Club IS sick. Let me remind you of some of the
darker days we’ve had this season (I’m sorry to bring up the pain
again, if it hurts too much then skip to the next paragraph).

16 Aug: Tot 2 – 1 Liv
24 Aug: Liv 1 – 3 AV
29 Sep: Fio 2 – 0 Liv
04 Oct: Che 2 – 0 Liv
17 Oct: Sun 1 – 0 Liv
20 Oct: Liv 1 – 2 Lyo
31 Oct: Ful 3 – 1 Liv
09 Dec: Liv 1 – 2 Fio
13 Dec: Liv 1 – 2 Ars
19 Dec: Por 2 – 0 Liv
12 Jan: Liv 1 – 2 Reading
10 Feb: Ars 1 – 0 Liv
08 Mar: Wig 1 – 0 Liv

These are results in the three major trophies we have entered this
season. Pretty grim reading, isn’t it. October and December were two
of the bleakest months that I can remember as a Liverpool supporter.

Now it is only fair that I highlight the good points of this season so
far as well, so here goes.

19 Aug: Liv 4 – 0 Sto
12 Sep: Liv 4 – 0 Bur
26 Sep: Liv 6 – 1 Hul
25 Oct: Liv 2 – 0 MU
29 Nov: Eve 0 – 2 Liv
29 Dec: AV. 0 – 1 Liv
20 Jan: Liv 2 – 0 Tot
06 Feb: Liv 1 – 0 Eve
25 Feb: Uni 1 – 3 Liv

It’s a much shorter list but there are some results to be proud of in there.

So, back to the point. This season has been pretty dark for all of us
and I’m sure that there are plenty of angry supporters out there. The
reaction to the Wigan defeat has been anything but positive and the
boss himself said that Johnson’s return to action was the only
positive in the whole game. I think that’s a little harsh as I thought
Aquilani’s performance was worthy of at least a comment.

In the aftermath, many supporters have once again begun calling for
Rafa’s head. I will admit that I too went through a “Rafa out” phase
in late December. But for now, is it deserved? We know that it’s been
a bad season, but we had just begun to turn it around when this
happened. Let’s not forget that Wigan also beat Chelsea at the DW and
that was while Chelsea were still undefeated. Let’s also not forget
that this is the first game we’ve lost in a month, first game we’ve
lost in two months excluding top four encounters and first game we’ve
lost in three months if you exclude FA cup as well.

However in those three months we gained 15 points in 8 games. Top four
form, but certainly not Liverpool form. My rule of thumb is that if
you average 2.5 points a game, then the title is yours (95 points in a
season), if you average 2 points per game then you’re on form for the
top four (76 points in a season), 1 point per game keeps you safe from
relegation (38 points in a season).

So good and bad go hand in hand. Sounds a lot like our season, doesn’t it?

So with all of that said, has there been enough bad this season to
warrant firing Rafa? Or to put it another way, has there been enough
good this season to warrant keeping him? To help you think about this,
I’ll shed my thought on the subject.

When you think of the managers we have had in the past, what comes to
mind? When I say Bill Shankly, I immediately think Legend. When I say
Bob Paisley, I think selfless hero. When I say Kenny Dalglish, I think
the great motivator. On the flip side of things, when I say Gerard
Houlier I think out of his depth. When I say Graeme Souness I think
traitor (which is possibly unfair, but it’s my mind and he did do an
interview with the Sun on the third anniversary of Hillsborough!).

These are the legacies that a manager leaves behind when he leaves the
club. And I have a feeling that if Rafa left now then the legacy he
would leave would be the the great divider. I have never seen a
support base when so many fanatically devout fans diving at one
anothers throats because they of their allegiances TO THE SAME CLUB.
You have on fan attacking another because he agrees with Rafa, while
another fan berates him for disagreeing. This is even true on the
pitch. I can think of no other reason for the complete lack of
enthusiasm from the players than that they did not believe that what
they were told was worth respecting.

This is a real pity, as Rafa has done a lot of good for the club. Our
academy has undergone remarkable improvements. Our squad is
unrecognisable (in terms of quality) to what it was when he arrived.
He even gave us the Champion’s League trophy to keep for winning it
for the fifth time. Rafa is not all bad, but at the same time he is
not all good. He promised us 4th place in the league and I am going to
hold him to that and I will trust that he can do it. But if he can’t,
then there must be consequences.

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