Thursday, 3 June 2010

KopStuff 3/6/10 - Liverpool Manager Rafa Benitez on His Way Out of Anfield in Mass Exodus

Thursday 3rd June.

Red’s manager Benitez in talks with agent over Anfield exit.

Rumour: Speculation over Rafa Benitez’s future is growing, with stories surrounding the Spaniard dominating most of the national newspapers this morning. Indeed, the S*n, the Mirror, the Mail, the Star, the Express, the Guardian and the Independent all cover the saga, suggesting that Benitez’s reign at Anfield is nearing an end.

Benitez was due for showdown talks with the Liverpool board, and the understanding is that the Red’s manager is due for talks with his agent, and is looking to engineer a move away from Anfield. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the board have made Benitez an offer to walk away from the club, believed to be in the region of £2.5 million. Rafa has four years of his Liverpool contract remaining, meaning that substantially more compensation would need to be paid if the Spaniard was sacked – possibly in excess of £16million. Should Rafa accept the deal on offer, he could be out of the club by the weekend.

Benitez has been linked with a host of other clubs of late, although he has repeatedly reiterated his commitment to the club. Only last week, he was quoted in the Liverpool Echo as being very happy at Liverpool. Nevertheless, Inter are believed to be interested in the 50 year old, along with the UAE national side. With the ‘walk away’ offer on the table, the chance of a move may become more attractive to a manager at odds with the board.

Liverpool fans will be largely split on the news, with many still backing Benitez, and seeing the club’s problems lying firmly at the feet of the American owners. The relationship between the two has been strained ever since Hicks and Gillett admitted an approach for Jurgen Klinsmann nearly two years ago. Those who support Benitez will wonder what calibre of manager will be attracted to a side struggling financially, and facing struggles both off and on the pitch. It is unlikely that there will be any funds for rebuilding, so the new manager would be expected to perform better than Benitez with the current squad – something that few managers would be capable of. Certainly the names in the frame do not make pleasant reading – few, if any, would be happy to see ex-Manc Mark Hughes at the helm. Roy Hodgson has been linked with the position too, but although he has performed consistently well as a manager, there are concerns that the Liverpool job would be too much of a leap for the Fulham man, and that his name may not be big enough to attract top drawer talent to Anfield.

There are also concerns that several of the Spanish contingent – notably Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres – could be tempted by a move should Benitez move to a high profile European club. Should that happen, it would be increasingly likely that captain Steven Gerrard would finally lose hope of winning the title with his beloved club, opening the door or a move to Real Madrid. However, several newspapers report that it is ‘player power’ that has ultimately resulted in the board’s decision to remove Benitez – it would be unthinkable then for those players to leave, having been granted their wish.

The only thing for certain at the moment is that nothing is for certain. The club could be about to undergo its most important change in recent history – we just need to hope that the board makes the right decision.

This might be the most worrying thing of all.

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