Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Fergie: 'Bad luck, tosser!' Rafa: 'Get fact, senor.'
Long before Liverpool took the plunge and expunged Rafa Benitez from their memories there were rumblings abroad that the Spaniard was pretty much as big a pain in the jacksy as it’s possible to be.
He won 2 finals while he was at Anfield – and both of them were won despite the gaffer not cos of him. Well, actually they were won by Steven Gerrard, the match-winning attacking midfielder that Rafa loved to play wide left or wide right.
Of course the Kop emblazoned Benitez’s face on banners as if he was in some sort of Mount Rushmore of Shankly, Paisley, Fagan and Dalglish. I never quite bought that. Neither did Rafa if you believe that he kicked King Kenny off the training ground.
During, and very much since his departure Benitez has indulged in a custard pie fight of throwing around the blame, and none of it was his.
The soft and wisest target is Hicks n Gillett, the Burke and Hare of football ownership. Apparently, the structure of Liverpool FC was changed and that meant Benitez couldn’t do his job properly. But even they can rightly argue that a transfer kitty was made available to El Sulko and he blew most of it on expensive flops. (Hasn’t Coleen Rooney just paid ten grand for something similar?)
Benitez has never accepted that he paid good money for old rope. But Ryan Babel? Alberto Aquilani, who was bought already crocked as a replacement for Xabi Alonso (which is like replacing a smooth old Bentley with a Fiat Uno with an empty tank).
And of course Robbie Keane. £20 million to keep a bench warm?
Benitez insists that he left the club with a net spend of £10 million and a team full of internationals. Well maybe. But if you furnish your home with the most expensive decor you can find, it can still mean that your house looks shit.
Credit where it’s due. He made two tip-top purchases: Torres and Reina. And Alonso, who couldn’t quite cope with the notion that his manager was hoping to replace him with midfield maestro Gareth Barry and sped off to Madrid. But that’s it, really.
And rather than neurotically bristling at what Roy Hodgson might say – and let’s face Woy is playing the same game as our lovely coalition and reminding everyone that the current travails are the fault of those who went before – Benitez might do well to dig around for a bit of humility and accept a little part in the demise of Liverpool’s season.
That’s not in his nature. He will be remembered for one other thing during his reign at Liverpool. Fact. That word. Fact. The Fergie-slating press conference that marked the end of his team’s title hopes. This was typical Rafa. He got himself so far up on the moral high ground his players lost sight of him and they never recovered.
There’s been echoes of that in the recent Inter press conference, where Rafa has clearly prepared some notes to read from. It’s as if the bloke turns into his own counsel or the defence or the prosecution every time he sits in front of journalists.
His latest blurtings are up there with the best of Cantona and Mourinho:
"We have a saying in Spanish: 'White liquid in a bottle has to be milk.'" Quirky and charming, Rafa, but not exactly true.
It could be a bottle of whitewash which erstwhile managers use to paint over the less successful bits of his reign.
Or the correction fluid you should have used to smear out half the words from that press conference in January 2009.
Or the bottled ejaculation of a humpback whale. (All right that’s less likely).
And if it is milk can we get a saucer of it ready for Senor Benitez for the next time we ask him about Liverpool? It wasn't me-ow!
I could be missing something. After all, some people can’t see a priest on a mountain of sugar. But hey Rafa let’s not confuse the Catholic Church with sugary treats, shall we? Not at the mo. Or I'll start misspelling Benedicked and then where will we be?
Besides which, Rafa, we have a saying in England, too: ‘Aw shut your face, you whinging pillock.’
It’s a phrase I’m tempted to use in the direction of Harry Redknapp after his rant against Mark Clattenburg. Yes, it was a weird goal that Nani scored. Yes, Clattenburg shouldn’t have waved away the Spurs players and let Rio Ferdinand stand there chuntering (although I suspect it’s pretty easy to blank out anything Rio has to say).
But I agree with Fergie. The ref hadn’t blown his whistle. He played an advantage. Gomes just had to keep the ball in his hands. He’s the plank in all of this. Had he not put the ball on the ground and faffed about like a nervy learner driver wondering whether to make a right turn the goal would never have been scored.
Clattenburg can’t really turn round and say ‘Oops I meant to blow my whistle there but forgot. Give the ball back to the keeper.’
Here's young Mark just after a quick chat with Rio Ferdinand.
I mean it’s the first rule of footy. Play to the whistle.
But players think they run the game now, don’t they? So even though he didn’t blow the whistle, he should have, so let’s assume he did.
I agree that it’d be nice to get the ref’s perspective in a press conference. I’m sure that fining Harry is a stupid idea, particularly since he wasn’t damning Clattenberg as a ref, just disagreeing with the decision. And we’d really miss a post-match ‘Arry.
And I’m not so sure that if the goal had gone the other way it would’ve been given. That’s what really rankles, I reckon. Because that Meesta Ferguthon, he get all the deceesions... and we get no help. Not never. FACT. He eez the only one who get ever-ee-theeng.