As the fat lady’s song begins to fade on Liverpool’s dismal season, it is now the Old Lady that seems to have come calling. Like the former it appears she signals the end of Rafael Benitez’s tenure at Liverpool.
As is the norm in football these days, money talks…..or in this case lack of it.
Juventus seem to be offering Benitez what Liverpool cannot, a significant budget to restore the ruins of a European giant. From the most successful team in England to the most successful team in Italy. Where one reads Gerrard, see Del Piero, Reina, read Buffon, Torres read Trezeguet. Greats of the game, class and quality in abundance. It appears a perfect match.
Look lower down the list of comparisons however and things become far murkier and much more problematic. Champions League also-rans vs….Champions League also rans. League disappointment added to poor surrenders in even the Europa League. In plain black and white, Juventus, like Liverpool at this moment, do not possess the teams to merit their name.
And it is within such deficiencies that will probably prove crucial in the Old Lady’s return to Turin minus the Spaniard.
Whilst the money that Juventus seem to be offering will certainly be appealing to Rafa, the rebuilding job is a huge one. The players mentioned above, although great names, are in the twilight stages of their careers and all will soon need to be replaced.
Benitez’s guard will be up as he mulls over the offer. Broken promises are something he has become greatly accustomed to. Juventus, still recovering from the match-fixing scandal and subsequent relegation, remain under a cloud, which perhaps still taints the club. Trust within and towards it will still be under repair. Does Benitez believe that the money will be given to him? Not since the signing of Gianluigi Buffon almost a decade ago has Juventus been a main player in the transfer fee stakes.
With Juventus also missing out on the Champions League it will be difficult to attract the players required, despite any large sums that he may be able to deal with. This is something that Liverpool will also soon experience but add to that the tendency for the best players to now look first towards Spain and England and Benitez’s job will be that much harder.
Is the Juventus job really as appealing as one might first presume and Benitez first thought? In the money perhaps, but starting off very much in the mire.
On the flip-side however, the Italian game is one that Benitez could be well suited to, a game grounded in defensive strategy and tactical understanding rather than the emotion and physicality of the Premier League. Benitez, it could be argued, has still to fully grasp this but would no doubt gain praise in Italy for his touchline orchestrations of the team and calm, measured approach. Serie A and the Italian media have not exactly welcomed Jose Mourinho as much as they may Rafael Benitez. Two opposing individuals and personalities that may need to revert where they ply their trade to be fully appreciated. One could even see a potential job swap if Liverpool could sort out their own problems.
The Italian league although not at its strongest, still showcases great talent within the likes of Inter Milan and Roma who are some way ahead of the rest. Much work needs to be done to close this gap but it can still be done and perhaps relatively quickly if the right decisions are made. The league does not possess as many strong clubs and as much money and spending power as what Benitez is facing in England with Liverpool. Manchester City, Chelsea et al.
It is a great irony that a manager under huge pressure in his current job, questioned, at times ridiculed and risked with the sack if the club could afford his pay-off, still could have the pick of most of the top jobs in Europe if he is to leave. Benitez will ‘analyse’ all the options open to him in what is sure to be an interesting summer. Real Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan…….Manchester City? Cash rich, likely management casualties, cheque books at the ready.
With regards to Benitez’s flirtations with Juventus, he seems to have decided to bide his time and wait for a better offer. Renowned as a meticulous thinker and planner, he is not one for rash decisions. Only after a studious assessment of what’s on the table will Rafa make his decision, assured of the future resources in which to be successful. And for that we all know what is required. Where will Benitez be in August?
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