The Fans View

Rafa easing Lucas’ pressure

Days gone by, it was Lucas who would bear the grunt of supporters unhappy at a dissatisfying result. Fast forward to the current season and while Lucas is pin-pointed as a weak link in midfield, it seems his gaffer has overtaken his mantelpiece as Liverpool pinata.

Various sections of the media; journalists, pundits, commentators and analysts, have each had their own say on how the Spaniard has handled his job of the men in red since he took over from Gerard Houllier in 2004, pointing to tactics, rotation, his levels of expenditure, his understanding of the English game, preparing his team for a league campaign as opposed to a cup competition, the list goes on.

The biggest, undoubtedly, being his operations in the transfer market. It is a well-noted fact that Benitez has spent roughly £200m during his time in charge of Liverpool but what irks me is the misconstrued presentation of these ‘facts’.

These apparently well-informed and knowledgable footballing brains seem to portray Benitez as though he has been on a level playing field with managers at clubs if similar stature in the league. Not true, not even close.

Also, they point to failed signings as though he is the only top level manager to make mistakes in the market. Dare we call them ‘mistakes’ however on his tight budget? ‘Unrewarding gambles’ i’d label them.

The one’s i so often hear include Robbie Keane (£19m), Andrea Dossena (£7m) and Andriy Voronin (free). I would be the first to admit that these signings have hardly been effective for the club and deserve the ‘flop’ tag.

However the shrewdness of Benitez is so rarely highlighted. Such a long list of players bought in to the club by Benitez have been positive for the club in the long term, even if they failed to make an impact on the field.

Xabi Alonso, brought in to the club for £10.7m and sold for over £30m to Real Madrid, Fernando Torres bought from Atletico Madrid for £20.2m in a time where world class strikers are fetching over the £30m bracket and higher, Javier Mascherano from Media Sports Investment for £17m when players like Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves have cost greater sums.

These players forged themselves into  the spine of our club. But what about those less high profile signings that haven’t been so successful?

Craig Bellamy was sold for a £1.5m profit after scandals during his playing career in red, Momo Sissoko was sold for a £2.6m profit even though he was unable to pass a ball further than five yards and also after recovering from a potentially career ending injury to his eye, and Peter Crouch bought from Southampton for £7m and sold for £11m to Portsmouth even though Benitez was ridiculed for buying a player from lowly Southampton for such an inflated price.

Behind these higher profile wheelings and dealings, he has been able to conduct transfers with youth players just as effectively.

Jack Hobbs brought in for £150,000 and sold to Leicester City for a deal thought to be upwards of £1m and Emiliano Insua cost £1.3m from Boca Juniors.

Rafa Benitez is no slouch in the transfer market.

This ‘£200m’ figure is indeed a fair swab of money, but when you consider he has sold all players for a touch over £108m, you must congratulate him.

The side he took over from Houllier has hardly start-studded. From that side back in the Houllier era, to the one he has at his disposal now has cost a net spend of roughly £80m. From your Danny Murphy”s and Milan Baros’ to your Fernando Torres’ and Javier Mascherano’s.

This isn’t knocking Houllier at all, i have utmost respect for  him as he brought silverware to the club and turned it around from the Graham Sounness mess.

There is more behind this story of Benitez and his ‘feable transfer skills’ and i will be addressing this media-driven barrage on the gaffer as ill-informed nonsense but for now, i feel it wise to leave you with a mere background on how Benitez is far more intelligent in the market than you may be told.

12 comments on
Rafa easing Lucas’ pressure

  1. Think we’re all missing the point here. Doesn’t matter how much Rafa has spent. Five years down the line and still we only have one good striker and no wingers. Progress? you decide.

    • It doesn’t matter how much he’s spent, but you want more “good strikers and wingers”? Oh the irony. Good strikers and wingers cost the most amount of transfer fees, and most amount in wages, it’s no surprise Rafa’s had to take risks on £6M Pennants and £7M Rieras.

      Up until last summer, Rafa’s had to endure Rick Parry screwing up transfer deals left right and centre. Looking at this transfer window is a breath of fresh air as halfway through the window and we’ve already sold two “flops” for more than we paid for them and bought in Maxi Rodriguez on a free transfer. That’s about as good as it gets with the debt-ridden liars that are the owners.

  2. Good piece in relation to the transfer policy of Rafa at Liverpool. Think the arguement is a little one sided though. Yes Rafa has signed some decent players in his time, but his record shows that he has signed 58 players in total. You could count on one hand the number of players who have been a success and are really good enough to play for Liverpool. One major theme of the lead article is where the author gives examples of players we bought and have sold on for a profit. Does this mean we ahve become a selling club????
    Also some of the signing made pose more questions than they answer.

    Example, Sell Danny Guthrie for £1 million and replace him with Lucas for £8 million. At the same time Milner was available at Newcastle for £6 million and went on loan to Villa for a season.

    Did Spurs not pick Lennon up for £1.5 million from Leeds also? Around the same time we were buying Nunez for £2 million.

    Another interesting fact i found on the internet while researching this topic is the transfer history of Rafa, Alex and arsene since 2004. Interesting reading?

    The three managers records since 2004 – Jan 2009

    Alex Ferguson IN (16) £140.10m OUT (54) £45.50m
    Rafael Benitez IN (45) £170.50m OUT (67) £84.28m
    Arsene Wenger IN (32) £ 89.25m OUT (57) £67.20m

    We have spent £8 million less than Utd (Net) & about £70 million more (net than Arsenal) Think the Utd & Arsenal supporters will be happy.

    I have listed the players i think have been a flop during Rafas time at the club below. Any comments????
    Alot of money wasted when your consider, Transfer fees, Signing on fees, Agents fees and wages?

    Josemi £2m, Antonio Nunez £2m, Mauricio Pellegrino Free, Fernando Morientes £6.5m, Antonio Baragan Compensation fee, Mohammed Sissoko £5.6m, Boudewijn Zenden Free, Jan Kromkamp Swop for Josemi, Craig Bellamy £6m, Gabriel Paletta £2m, Mark Gonzalez £4.5m, Jermaine Pennant £6.7m, Andriy Voronin Free, Lucas Leiva £6m, Ryan Babel £11m, Charles Itandje Free

    • Well i would argue that four of the players would not be considered to be a total risk with both Morientes +Zenden being proven “class” players for other clubs, maybe Bellamy and pennant were more risk added due to their temperament off the pitch but not their playing ability having both proven good premier league status as did Keane and Crouch who although loved by the supporters were considered flops by the media under rafa . Were also forgetting Garcia who altho had flashes of class was one the media regarded as a flop.
      The other group bracket which i would label ” would be success” such as Kromkamp, Sissoko, Gonzalez, Dossena are players who in my opinion had talent and had all the chance to succeed ( with the exception of dossina maybe having little opportunity) and simply went worse as time went on after bright starts.

      Yes allot of money has been wasted but when you consider that rafa has been operating in the third/ forth rate market and with the clowns of Hicks/ Gillette/ Parry/ Moores making final decisions the margin for error was always going to be considerable .

      I don’t like the comparison with Wenger/ Ferguson purely for the fact that they have been in charge of their respective clubs for allot longer than 5/6 years they have had the chance to set up their clubs to the designs of each manager, generate substantial youth and corporate development which means both were far more advanced in their master plans than rafa who was starting out .Their first five years in charge were a different time in football under totally different restrictions and expectations so comparisons are limited.

    • Josemi was swapped for Krompkamp who was then sold for £1.75m which is only a loss of £250k on the original player.

      Nunez was a decent punt which saw us get something we needed ( a right midfielder) at the time in the Owen deal.

      Morientes, well everyone was chuffed to see him arive. He was a great player for Madrid and Monaco but didn’t work out.

      Momo was bought for £5.6m and sold for £8.2m even after he nearly lost an eye and had trouble with his passing.

      Zenden and Voronin was decent punts on a free. Proven record but didn’t work out. Not every free turns out to be the next Gary Mac.

      Bellamy hit 17 goals the season before for Blackburn in 32 games. Bought for £6m, sold for £7.5m after a couple scandals with team mates.

      Gonzalez made a profit of £500k even after his injuries.

      Pennant and Babel have been flops thus far, and Itandje is someone i do not respect at all, so they are blemishes on his record but which manager doesnt have them? Fergie with Nani, Tosic, and Berbatov especially.

      His budget has meant he has been forced somewhat into making shrew signings. Some pay off, some dont.

  3. I agree we need to get behind the team and support them and the article is right in shining some light on rafas transfer situation over his time here (something im verry mindefull of) I just hope that performances like those at Portsmouth, only performing for one half of football, motivating and getting the best out of current resources when the likes of Gerrard and Torres are greatly underperforming (maybe due to injury) are all things that Rafa can still turn around and make right . Surely in the end this is what Rafa will be judged on and not fluxuating transfer funds or dodgy decisions during matches . Y.N.W.A.

  4. I think RAFA has had enough time to produce the goods, give him more time and Liverpool will be playing iin the Coca-Cola league soon. Had he kept Keane we would at least have had a decent srtiker to turn to when El Nino was injured and who knows may not have been in eighth position.

    The only way Rafa can turn this mess around is to stop defending and start playing an attacking game.

    His defensive tactics last year cost us the league especially when we played the lower half of the table teams.

    Liverpool for ever RAFA never.

    • Stats aside for this one, he was below par and a whinging git. Ngog has proven to be ample back up for Fernando and allowed us to free up 12.5m pounds.

      If not Keane who was flogged off, Rafa would of sold someone else and we’d be short in that position too. Sell to buy doesn’t favour the manager or the squad.

  5. Great article – i’m glad someone else out there is willing to stand up and look at the facts rather than just jumping on the media band wagon.

    We all know Rafa has spent a lot, but he’s had to sell to buy often and when he has brought flops (Kromkamp, Josemi, Bellamy, Keane etc) they’ve been shipped out quickly too. That said, I’d still like him to put more faith in the young lads, so it was great to see there’sonlyoneJaySpearing and Dani Pacheco get a run out on Boxing Day. Rafa deserves more time to turn it around and for his key players to start performing – and I include Stevie & Carra in that (the latter of which has been in chronic form this season).

    Finally, we all need to get behind the lads and give them support too. Anfield has been worryingly silent recently and we need to be louder, brighter and funnier than we have been! Come on, we’re in this together!! YNWA.

    • Well said Charlie, We are all in this together, and the season is far from lost at this point, ok maybe fourth is the best we can hope for, but we can hope, we can sing, we can urge the lads on, The others have slipped up and given away points that you would have bet your shirt on, so things can still go tits for them too

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