Rafa Benitez – Is The Writing On The Wall?

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Note: This article was written before the wins over Portsmouth and Lille this week, unfortunately we didn’t get to add the article when it was first written, for the most part Simon’s points still remain.

Two months ago, I wrote an article entitled Walk On, Walk On, basically showing my support and loyalty for our esteemed manager, Rafael Benitez.

My loyalty for Rafa is widely known, but, two months on from my last article, and I am beginning to wonder whether I was right. That loyalty is being severly tested, along with the patience, of not only me, but many other supporters who have backed the boss through thick and thin.

Over the last couple months since my article, we have had a few good games. A few good results. Some not so good. And some more in the realm of absolutely diabolical. Culminating in the two matches last week against Wigan, and Lille. The two wins this week have been good – but it doesn’t mean there’s an end to the problems.

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And who is at the root of all these problems? Is it Hicks and Gillett? Is it the players? Or is it Benitez. The man that wanted total control over all team affairs. From the Academy right through to the First Team. I would like to say the owners, we all would. I would like to blame the players – after all once they cross that white line, they are the only ones who can do anything to control or dictate what happens over the following 90 minutes.

The players at the moment seem to have a lot of problems with morale. They all seem to be blaming each other, on and off the field, for the bad form we are in at the moment. We have senior players coming out to the national press and voicing their discontent (stand up Fernando Torres, Javier Mascherano). And a lot more besides. More that we are not aware of going on behind closed doors. This feels like a team that’s lost its faith, its passion, its belief. But more importantly, this feels like a manager that has lost the dressing room. And that’s never good. So the blame in all honesty, I feel, lies squarely at the door of the manager. The main man in the dug out.

Having read the article by Matt recently, about Hicks and Gillett being Benitez’s saving grace, to be honest, I began to wonder. I certainly have my doubts as to whether that would be the case.

Yes, ok, Benitez signed a 5 year contract that would cost our two owners many millions to pay him off if they sacked him at the season’s end. But, bear this in mind;

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These are two astute business men. Business men that also not too long ago signed a new sponsorship deal for the club with Standard Chartered. A deal that was rumoured to be worth around £80million over 4 years. A deal that was rumoured to hinge on Liverpool FC reaching the Champions League for every season of the deal. £20million a year, as long as we’re in the Champions League.

Would Hicks and Gillett really risk losing that money, losing that sponsorship? Especially if, as it’s looking more and more likely, we don’t reach the Champions League this year. What will happen then? Would Standard Chartered renege on the deal, or would they start making some demands, pulling some strings?

And what about the re-financing deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland? This is only conjecture here, but I have a feeling that unless we have regular Champions League monies coming in and allowing Hicks and Gillett to keep up with the loan payments, they may also start making threats. Threats to withdraw their backing and demanding all monies paid back. Threats that could see the words ‘foreclosed’ taped across the Shankly Gates.

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There’s also a certain Jose Mourinho rumoured to be on his way out of the San Siro this summer, a manager who has pedigree in winning the league (Chelsea 2005, 2006; Inter Milan 2009 and heading towards winning the Scudetto in 2010 as well) and Champions League (Porto 2004). A manager who has, on more than one occassion, stated his love and admiration for Liverpool and a desire to manage the club.

With all the above, and more, I am really beginning to wonder. Are Hicks and Gillett really Benitez’s saving grace – or would they risk sacking him and paying off the remainder of his contract, in order to keep things flowing at the club? To keep the club afloat. After all, it makes good business sense.

As big a Rafa fan that I am, as much as I have supported him over the last few years, this is something we have to ask ourselves. Is the writing really on the wall for Rafael Benitez?

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