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D-Day for Rafa: Will he get a “table” or a “lampshade”?

Date: 3rd May 2010 at 7:00 pm
Written by: | Comments (26)

A great quote from Liverpool manager has been doing the rounds in the papers this week. After leaving , Rafa was quoted as saying: “I asked for a table and they bought me a lampshade,” in reference to the type of player the Spanish club were signing. It has resurfaced again because of what Rafa has been saying in recent days:

“I decided to sign an extension at Liverpool because the squad was good and the money could be there. But things have changed. It’s not a question of money in my contract. I said no to massive offers. I decided to stay under some conditions. I left Valencia because the conditions changed. Now they have changed at Liverpool.”

The conditions changed at Valencia when Rafa fell out with then sporting director over control of transfers and the failure to reinforce the squad. The reference appears to suggest that the same thing is now happening at Liverpool and with Benitez stating he needs four or five new players to make the team competitive, a dispute with the board looks to be on the cards. There are very similar parallels with the situation back in 2004 at the when Benitez eventually left Valencia because of the dispute. The stubborn man that he is, I have no doubt that Rafa will not settle for a “lampshade” this time either.

Back in 2004, Benitez was on the verge of leaving Valencia for Liverpool when a meeting took place between Valencia president , director , Benitez himself and his agent . Llorente had offered a two year extension to Rafa’s contract but the terms were far less lucrative than what Liverpool were offering. What Benitez really wanted though was control over transfers and the removal of sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch from his post. Orti did consider the proposal but Rafa eventually left for Liverpool in the summer anyhow.

A very familiar situation developed at Liverpool over transfers. Before he signed his contract extension last season, Benitez wanted greater control over the club, and especially the signing of players. Benitez got his way and he got a lucrative contract along with the sacking of at the end of last season. With the lack of transfer funds this season though, Benitez once again finds himself in a difficult situation. Interest from , who have apparently offered him a big contract with sizeable transfer funds of £80million, means he once again has a bargaining chip to play with, like he did with Liverpool at Valencia in 2004.

Speculation over his future has grown and grown, and Rafa has allowed it to, so he is in the best position to negotiate with the board. He has said that he will meet with new chairman in the next few days, and after the match against next Sunday, we will know whether Rafa has been successful in getting his “table.”

26 thoughts on “D-Day for Rafa: Will he get a “table” or a “lampshade”?

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  • tom
    4 years ago

    On balance I can’t see rafa staying a good thing. Yes he has had a tough time of it. No he hasn’t spent very much money, or had it to spend in the first place; but it’s the way he spends it which is the problem.

    You can name Rick Parry as the flaw in our buying tactics and to an extent I would agree. but Rafa still apporved every single buy. He still prioritised quantity over quality every year. If he spent, on average, 18mil a year say, then well done for operating under such constraints. However, it is my belief that if he only bought 1 18 mil player a year, instead of 3 or 4 5mil players we would be a lot better off.

    In addition to this he has misused and mistreated the players he does have to such an extent that there has hardly been a season go by recently without some kind of player unrest. He pissed of Xabi Alonso, Ryan Babel has seemingly always been upset, Albert Riera has been running his mouth and Arbeloa called him robotic! You can blame unruly players but he was at least partly, or totally responsible for their recruiment. If he were a good man manager then these would be non issues, or not happening at all.

    Anyway, I could go on but I would be at it all day, about playing players out of position and playing politics with signings, but there really is no need. Yes he has achieved good, even great things, but 5 years is a long time in football and he has done very little to inspire me since 2006.

    When I try to look at the situation dispassionately, which may be counterintuitive as a fan, all I see is a man who blames everyone but himself, with a pig headedness and lack of regard for his colleagues that has seen players and staff alike move away. The courage of your convictions is admirable. A rigid adherence to flawed strategy and tactics is just a hallmark of bad management.

    Reply
  • scouser66
    4 years ago

    kopites love doing sums ie how much u spent how much you got back but at the end of the day the only thing that adds up is that your CRAP

    Reply
  • Mike
    4 years ago

    The worrying point about who Rafa has bought and sold is the amount of players he has sold. The reason that Liverpool have no squad depth is because of all the ‘players sold on at a profit’. The shear number of players in and out of the club over that time is incredible, it only points to bad purchases or bad player management there is no other factor involved. Certainly Benitez has had both of those traits labeled at him recently so it can’t be all lies. If you look at the big 3 1st team sheets almost all of them have played their positions for years and the squad has remained the same bar 1 or 2 quality players, this is strengthening the team. Arsenal have made a profit in that same time through transfers and maintained Champions League football, so in comparison Benitez is not very good at all in the market. My conclusion is this, every Liverpool fan would rather have a happy Xabi Alonso than £30m, money from sales doesn’t mean anything, if you take away the value of that player to the team Liverpool are very much worse off this season.

    Reply
  • samuel charles
    4 years ago

    you mug mike,,, he has had to wheel and deal, one in one out, that will catch up with after a while, look at chelsea, they dont fancy a player, oh well stick him on the bench.
    lfc have never been allowed to do that, we had to sell bellamt and crouch to fund other deals. but if you really can not see that we just havent invested in first choice targets and at the right time, and in a quick way then liverpool have had to go after 3/ 4th chioce players and at the last mninute, tell me why pennants deal was allowed to run down, when we could have got cash for that, oh and your going to tell me this was again rafas fault,,, what a load of shite, yo do not get the real picture, tony barrett has come out and said its 99% owners fault, DO YOU NOT SEE IT, oh and villa has soent more money than us in over 3 years too,,,, how do you ,like those facts, wake up you media driven mug you

    Reply
  • Dave
    4 years ago

    Good article and even better comment Roy Beno.
    You’ll never be able to convince the sheep with logic. You have one guy asking why we havent spent 18M on just one player instead of 3.5M-5M on a few players answer is: from Holliers squad the current players are Gerrard and charra add your £18M x5 would give us a squad of seven players. I mean my 3yr old wouldn’t make such a daft comment.

    Reply
  • roybeno
    4 years ago

    this is where we’re at folks

    LFC chairman must deal with those causing the damage

    Posted on May 6th, 2010 by Anfield Road
    By Tom Wilson and Jim Boardman

    On Saturday a senior Liverpool official made it perfectly clear that there was absolutely nothing to read from the fact that Reds boss Rafa Benítez was yet to meet new chairman Martin Broughton. He claimed it was all part of some plot to paint a false picture of disharmony at Anfield. He got on great with Rafa and Rafa was happy.

    Even now it’s difficult to work out how he thought anyone would fall for that. Or why he seems to tell different stories to different people. People compare notes, compare what he’s told them, then shake their heads.

    On Saturday the senior official said that there had been one meeting planned. It would have been ahead of the first-leg of the Europa League semi against Atlético Madrid, but volcanic ash put paid to that idea. When the call came out for the squad to meet up at Runcorn station, the meeting was unsurprisingly called off.

    Obviously the new chairman is quite different to the last man to have the job all to himself. David Moores used to travel on the team bus with the squad; Martin Broughton doesn’t come across as someone who would feel comfortable slumming it across Europe in first class with the players.

    According to the senior Liverpool official on Saturday, no other meeting had been scheduled so far. The first opportunity following the journey to Madrid would probably have been tied in with the return leg a week later, but with Rafa unavailable until after midnight it was decided, the senior official said, that there was no time for the chairman to meet the manager. Presumably the chairman – who of course has other responsibilities away from Liverpool FC – was unable to pop round to Melwood the following morning.

    That following morning, the Friday, had been the day before the senior official was explaining why there hadn’t yet been a meeting. And at almost the exact time as the senior Liverpool official was explaining why there hadn’t been a meeting so far, the club’s official site was making it clear that the next opportunity for a meeting was also going to be missed.

    Liverpool’s last home game of the season was the following day, the Sunday, against the team Martin Broughton has supported all his life, Chelsea. Broughton had presumably set off home early on Friday morning after watching the Atlético game, and he told the official site he wouldn’t be coming back up for that Chelsea match. He wasn’t even going to be in the city for the game, he didn’t want to be seen to celebrate any Chelsea goals. “The only sensible thing is for me to stay at home and watch it on the television,” he said.

    So he wasn’t exactly making himself available for a meeting with Rafa, which in itself isn’t really a major issue. He’d cleared off before Rafa was available on the Thursday night, he didn’t stick around on Friday to meet then and he didn’t come back up on Saturday in preparation for the Sunday match, so no chance of squeezing a meeting in there.

    Rafa did want to talk to him, but there clearly hadn’t been time. It was frustrating but understandable. Surely a meeting would be held before the week was out, with no game for Liverpool Rafa would have more room in his own diary to match up with Broughton’s no-doubt hectic schedule.

    But then came the story on the BBC website, and other BBC outlets, soon to spread like wildfire around the rest of the media.

    “Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has cancelled two scheduled face-to-face meetings with the club’s new chairman, Martin Broughton,” wrote David Bond, the BBC’s replacement for Mihir Bose as Sports Editor.

    Bond had the same title at the Telegraph before joining the BBC, but will be best remembered by Liverpool fans from his time as the paper’s Chief Sports Reporter. From knowing full details of Gillett and Hick’s refinancing deal with RBS before it was announced, to publishing emails DIC and Amanda Staveley had been sent by Hicks, Bond was clearly getting information from people inside and outside the club during that very turbulent period.

    So who would be talking to him now? Whoever it was wanted to add more weight to the campaign to see Rafa hounded out of the club. “It is understood that he [Benítez] pulled out of talks with Broughton last week and another the week before,” wrote Bond.

    As has just been explained, Rafa did not cancel any meetings with Broughton, and whatever any fan thinks of Benítez, or where his future should be, the fact that someone from Liverpool is trying to smear the manager should set alarm bells ringing loud and clear.

    This is about far more than Rafael Benítez. This is just the latest in a long line of examples of the press being briefed about Rafa in a way that certainly wasn’t designed to be supportive of the manager. What other lies are being peddled?

    Even Bond seemed to be unsure of exactly what the story was, writing: “It is not clear why Benitez cancelled the meetings with Broughton, although the last two weeks have been affected by preparations for Liverpool’s Europa League semi-final meetings with Atletico Madrid. The first week in particular was heavily disrupted as Benitez’s team were forced to make the long journey to the Spanish capital by road and rail after flights were grounded by ash from the Icelandic volcano.”

    Benítez didn’t cancel the meetings, but if he had it was probably slightly more important he got on that train at Runcorn than staying back to meet Broughton. Even Rafa can’t be blamed for the volcanic ash. So why would someone at Anfield feed the BBC this “story”?

    There aren’t too many candidates for the source of this latest leak. Bond said it came from a Liverpool board member: “There is some surprise inside the Anfield boardroom at the timing of Benitez’s call on Tuesday for an urgent meeting with Broughton to discuss the future.”

    Bond was one of the first reporters to interview Martin Broughton after his appointment, so perhaps he is a candidate for this story being fed to the press. But Broughton wasn’t at the club when the earliest briefings against Rafa began, to other members of the press. Of course it’s always possible that somebody else told Broughton that Rafa had cancelled the meetings. Someone wary of Rafa actually getting to meet the chairman, and telling the chairman exactly what has been going on.

    One subtle hint that somebody was talking out of turn came in one of the infamous Henry Winter columns. In November he wrote: “The impressive managing director, Christian Purslow, is not the type for knee-jerk reactions. But it is known around Anfield that Purslow has talked to Benítez about his style of management, notably his cold detachment from the players.”

    So back in November someone from the club was telling Henry Winter that Benítez had been given a dressing-down by Purslow, that Benítez was being told how to manage his players, essentially being told how to do his job. And it’s as obvious as it looks exactly who it was that impressed this information on Winter.

    That wasn’t all that Winter learned from his new source: “Liverpool can afford to sack Benítez,” wrote Winter. “Compensation would be less than £5 million under the ‘mitigating the loss’ principle if he found employment.” Which perhaps should now have Winter scratching his head as to why impressive people would be on the phone to him angrily criticising the manager instead of just sacking him.

    And it’s not as if Winter wasn’t afforded the opportunity to ask that question. No prizes for guessing which senior Liverpool official spent a good part of the bank holiday weekend frantically phoning around trying to get his side, or one of his sides, of the story over. It was almost as if he was frightened that the truth might come out. And Winter had a chance to challenge this particular Liverpool board member on where his stories didn’t really add up. But some reporters would rather just take the information they’re fed and repeat it, hoping there’s plenty more where that came from, than question what they are being told.

    Having managed to get so many column inches out of the politicking of a certain LFC board member, Winter completely missed the irony of his opening paragraph: “If Rafael Benítez truly respects Liverpool Football Club he’ll leave Anfield today. The players have lost the faith, the boardroom is unimpressed with the politicking and the supporters are suffering, albeit in silence.”

    When the truth does come out about a certain LFC board member and his efforts to keep the truth from the supporters, perhaps that silence will be broken. And maybe that silence needs to be broken. Maybe the efforts to keep the attention on Benítez to take it away from the failings of the Managing Director and the owners he worked for need to be emphasised a little more. And that might just be a bit messy – but what’s new? That’s how it’s been at Anfield for some time. “If he stays, the inevitable long goodbye becomes indescribably messy, distressing for all concerned and demeaning to a club of Liverpool’s great history. This is not a warning for Benítez, this is a fact,” wrote Winter. The same fact applies, but much more strongly, to the club’s temporary MD.

    Bill Shankly was the man who made Liverpool great, the man who brought so much of that “great history” to the club. Nobody knows what he would have made of Benitez; chances are he would have seen good and bad in him and he could well have been saying Rafa’s time was up by now. But it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to work out what he would have thought of the club’s owners. And it takes even less imagination to work out what he would have thought of Christian Purslow. And less still what he would have thought of the tactics employed by the club’s current custodian to force Rafa out.

    Shanks would also have torn a strip off Henry Winter had he ever been unfortunate enough to cross his path. Winter wrote of Rafa: “He’s got a centre-back at left-back and a holding midfielder at right-back.” With the only two left-backs at the club injured, what else was Rafa meant to do? One thing Rafa tried was putting the right-back at left-back, which was why the holding midfielder played at right-back on the Thursday. By the Sunday the right-back was injured too, which is why the centre-back went to left-back, and the holding midfielder stayed at right-back. This isn’t a string of excuses; it’s just some simple facts. Liverpool have to make do and mend.

    Christian Purlsow’s arrival coincided with spending on transfers that, going off the fees available in public, went from being “net spend” to “net profit”. Liverpool brought more in than went out last year. That’s the calendar year 2009.

    When Winter used the phrase “How embarrassing,” in his article it surely should have been to describe his own willingness to stick up so transparently for his source in the Liverpool boardroom. And really his article didn’t deserve much more time than that, as went into some kind of rant out of sympathy to his new friend on the board at Anfield.

    That new friend should have the balls to stand up in public and say what he’s saying privately to the press, if he truly believes it and feels it would stand up to scrutiny. But he knows that, despite claims to the contrary, most Liverpool fans either want Benítez to stay or only want him to leave because they feel he’s been worn down by the unnecessary pressures of the past few years. The vast majority of fans will always consider Benítez a hero, whatever happens.

    And that is what frightens the board member. He knows that sooner or later the manager will blow him up for what he’s done. He knows that more and more people are starting to see through him. And he knows that if he sacks the manager he’ll never be forgiven.

    Liverpool’s new chairman was appointed in a non-executive role. The senior Liverpool official constantly points out that the new chairman was appointed in that way, and that he has no control over the actual running of the club, that he’s merely there to sell the club.

    But the senior Liverpool official fails to mention something very important about the role of a non-executive director. According to the government-commissioned Higgs report, non-executive directors “are responsible for… where necessary removing, senior management.”

    Surely a senior Liverpool official briefing the press against the club’s manager, over such a sustained period, is grounds for his removal. His decision to bad-mouth the club’s owners, however accurate it might be, is hardly the best way to attract £100m of investment. And that was his major objective when appointed. Perhaps he wanted to delay the partial sale to prolong his own career as Mr Liverpool, to help build up that empire. Is this not also grounds for removal? To discuss transfer targets – even if they are his own, not the manager’s – with the press is also grounds for removal. The list goes on.

    And that, Martin Broughton, is where you come in. You need to get to the bottom of this mess and you need to get to the bottom of it fast.

    It’s not just your reputation that depends on it

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