A modern top level football manager’s role is constantly evolving, with the consequences of success and failure no longer a foregone conclusion, the club’s custodian, the media, the players and fans all have a say as to whether he stays or picks up his P45. In Rafael Benitez’ 17-years in management, he has took the bumps and bruises, experienced the agony and ignominy of being shown the door on more than one occasion, and ecstasy and elation of Istanbul.
In public Rafa is a very methodical man who over the years has rubbed certain sections of the media and management up the wrong way.
He is also capable of admirable compassion as we saw when he donated £96,000 from his own pocket to the “Justice for the 96″ campaign. He is a man who has been linked for every top job which is currently or reportedly soon to be, available. Will he need his passport, or AA map from his home in Heswall to reach his next destination?
Benitez has been strongly linked to Real Madrid and Chelsea. Both clubs are ego driven and rife with politics. I do think Rafa is strong and single minded enough to deal with the constant need for change in the midst of posturing presidential elections at Madrid. The candidate’s mandates usually include radical overhauls of the staff and first to go is often the manager.
Our previous gaffer is still revered in his native land after breaking the Barca-Real duopoly back in 2004 and their national press certainly have not forgotten “the miracle of Istanbul!” This should buy him time at a club where the previous incumbent and great rival has built a formidable side with questionable discipline. But will he want to follow Jose Mourinho into a job where he could leave as European and domestic champions? Of course we all remember that this happened at Internazionale, where the impatience of the notoriously trigger-happy owner Massimo Moretti lost patience after a few below par performances, which subsequently cost him his job before he had time to rebuild an old side who appeared to have lost their motivation after a historic treble year. With Mourinho in London this week “house shopping” as the official line goes, there may be an offer on the cards for Rafa.
History tells us that Benitez is not shy to air his grievances when he feels that he is not getting sufficient backing from the owners, as Rick Parry and the Texan mob will testify. Certain areas of the media have been touting the Spaniard as the next big name manager to get chewed up and spat out by the Chelsea regime. With Andre Villas Boas’ once glorious reputation as a managerial prodigy in tatters, Abramovich is reportedly on the lookout for fresh meat. From the outside the South London club looks like a mutiny waiting to happen. Where ego’s and bank balances meet there is seldom room for patience. A rebuilding job is desperately needed and the Champions League is desperately wanted – not in 3 years…NOW! The Istanbul mastermind has the tactical acumen to succeed but the bad blood his clashes with Mourinho have caused with the supporters may not make this the popular choice for all concerned.
Where next then? Will he come back to the Premiership to have a go at rebuilding an ailing club along the lines of Aston Villa or Bolton? Or perhaps the Spurs job when ‘Arry leaves? Could international management suit him or will it be too hard for him not to have day to day control of his squad? Or back to La Liga where most clubs would be delighted to have a man with his track record at the helm? Wherever he goes it will be on his own terms and that’s a FACT!
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