Benitez way ahead of Ferguson

For all those Liverpool fans, like me who may be thinking the title is slipping away from us after an exciting but immensely frustrating night against Arsenal, I’d like to just take a reality check on the progress of the club under Rafa in comparison to our richer and more arrogant rivals down the road.

Consider the implications if either us or them finished 6th or 7th in the league. 20 or 30 years ago with a more level playing field in terms of club finances and playing staff this would have been a disappointment but not the end of the world.

These days however, I think it’s fair to say that questions would be asked, not only of the players but also of the manager and his staff. The present game relies heavily on a club’s finances; both on buying power and the ability to pay high wages but also on commercial attractiveness and effective merchandising.

Rich Mancs

Sadly for us, the Mancs with their soul-less but huge stadium and the higher number of bandwagon jumpers around the world means that they are quite a distance ahead of us in terms of income each year. In 2008 (according to figures from The Guardian) the arrogant ones earned a whopping £212M income compared to our own £133M. Whilst this may be still a very nice income thank you, how can a club with a 60% lower income hope to compete in the long-term against its richer rival?

The answer of course is to employ a more effective manager, coaching staff and give him the money to be better than his rivals in the transfer market at spotting a good deal. After some good Champions League campaigns we have finally seen Rafa make a real fight of the Premier League. When previously we have been out of it by January it looks like we at least going to be fighting the Mancs all the way until the end of the season.

“Ah yes” I hear you cry “but that’s not much good if we still finish 2nd in the end.” Actually Alex Ferguson should be absolutely ashamed of himself if he doesn’t win the league title and the owners should seriously question whether he should remain in the job. The reason is that Rafa’s squad consists of only 2 players who have cost more than £12M; Torres and Mascherano. All of others including Riera (£9M), Babel (£11.5M), Kuyt (£10.5M) have all cost less than is currently considered to be a reasonable price for a good player in today’s market.

Compare this to how many of the Manc squad have cost over this figure:

Ferdinand £33M

Berbatov £30.75M

Rooney £25.6M

Tevez £20M

Carrick £18.6M

Anderson £18M

Hargreaves £17M

Nani £16M

Ronaldo £12M

That’s almost a full team with a combined cost of £200M!!! How on earth can we be expecting to compete against a team like that? However, competing against them we are and the reason is that Rafa is a better tactical manager than Ferguson. Not only have we done the double over them this season but in the last few seasons (except the 3-0 at Old Trafford last year) we have consistently been the better team in head to head matches. This year has finally seen us get our rewards for domination in these games. What the Mancs have however is such a strong expensive squad that they can lose 4 or 5 players to injury and it makes no real difference. They just go and spend another £30M on a player out of their lose change.

Champions League

Unconvinced so far of Rafa’s superiority over his grumpy, bad tempered Scottish rival? All things being equal a larger, richer squad should always win a league over 38 games. Let’s look however at a comparison of their results in the Champions League, where particularly in the knockout phase, bad tactical decisions will be your downfall against the best sides on the continent over only 2 games.

It may surprise you to know but Ferguson’s performance in the knockout phase of the Champions League is nothing short of appalling for a side that have such ease in dominating their own domestic league. Between 1998 and 2005 their one moment of very fortunate triumph was sandwiched by a period where they won only 1 knockout tie (against Deportivo La Coruna in 2002). In the other 6 years they went out at the first knockout phase every single time to the likes of Monaco, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Porto and AC Milan. In short every time they finally met some worthy opposition.

In 2006 they didn’t even make it to the knockout phase, finishing 4th (yes that’s bottom) in their group behind the European giants of Benfica, Villareal and Lille. Even in 2007 when they lost to Milan in the semi-finals they only beat Lille and a team that are no more than a shadow of their older teams, Roma.

It wasn’t until 2008 with Italian Football in particular suffering from a lack of resources and plagued by recent scandals, fines and weakening of their own leagues were the Mancs finally able to make their countless Sky TV millions pay at last and win the tournament by actually beating quality teams such as Barcelona and Chelski.

Ferguson no doubt looks at Rafa’s Champions League record with some envy. Having obviously won the competition in his first year in England and again reached the final 2 years later he managed as many final appearances in 3 years as the miserable one has managed in 14 attempts. Apart from one bad year losing to Benfica in 2006 at the first knockout stage, Benitez has always progressed to the later stages, beating Chelsea, PSV and Barca in 2007, Inter and Arsenal in 2008 and Real Madrid in 2009.

Cushy Job

Ferguson gets a ridiculous amount of plaudits in the media for his success and ability as a manager. When he finally retires we won’t be able to turn on the TV without some sickening documentary about how he’s the greatest manager of all time. The real reason he hasn’t retired yet is that he’s nothing more than a figurehead of a global company with more money than they know what to do with.

All Ferguson does is play the waiting game. It was 7 years before he won the league title after he arrived. Why? Because before then he only had a little more money than everyone else instead of the millions more he has today. Only now are the Mancs looking like a regular threat in the Champions League. Why? Because only now the English league has far more money than the rest of Europe.

If the Manchester United owners applied the same Performance Management that is present in almost every other type of job Ferguson, with the assets at his disposal should be beating other managers in England with ease every single year. The next time that the Manc team fail to paper over Ferguson’s tactical cracks and they don’t win both the Premier League AND the Champions League he should be fired for underperformance.

9 comments on
Benitez way ahead of Ferguson

  1. Ok as a huge Liverpool fan, even I can see the bias here. Firstly, Tevez has cost United nothing, and secondly, as much as i hate the guy, and as much as it may/may not be complete luck, Ronaldo at £12m has to be an absolute bargain.

    However, again from an unbiased view point, signings such as Anderson, Berbatov, Hargreaves and Nani have been beyond useless.

    I am of the opinion that it will be 18 all at the end of the season, but I do think, if we can maintain our great record this year against the other members of the “big 4” we will not mess up against those parking the bus at Anfield, and once again go back into the lead.

    I just think it is a tad naive to suggest that Fergies success is based solely on money. We Liverpool fans are supposed to be the most knowledgable, so come on, don’t be like the mancs and the bitter blues, give the guy some credit.

    As for Rafa, I think for the first time, he has Fergie seriously worried. Firstly for the remainder of this season (before the dropped points against Arsenal and the dodgy penalty webb gave them this weekend) but more importantly for the following years. This was shown in the rather pathetic ramblings from fergie and fat sam.

    Good a manager as Fergie is, he is certainly not the sharpest when it comes to “mind games” (despite what the media tell us…) and Rafa may have the last laugh.

    This season is still not over, a big win against the useless geordies, and maybe Boro will spring a surprise like they did to us against united.

    Time will tell I suppose, But I beg you all, don’t be blind sighted, Whiskey nose is a good manager, Shankly however, was the best manager.

  2. I agree with everything Nick has said. But one point no one has mentioned is that all important fact of how the referees favour Man United so much. We should be ahead of United this season if it wasnt for the referees favouring them with some appalling decisions. Three one on ones were called offside when Aston Villa had Man U on the ropes. And they were all onside. Then the penalty Mr Webb has so appropriately apologised for AFTER the game which gifted Man U an entry back into the game against Tottenham. The elbow from Vidic on the Bolton keeper which allowed Wes Brown to score into an empty net. The amount of times Ronaldo has kicked out at opponents and nothing is done. The amount of times Ferdinand and Rooney yell absolute abuse at referees, and nothing is done.
    But you dont read about it in the papers. You would think every journalist is having a love affair with Ferguson. When Keane wasnt playing, you read about it every day in the papers, but when Tevez isnt playing, how many articles do you read in the papers? And some of the commentary on tv is appalling. Even the commentators seem to be paid on the Man U payroll. The biasness is shocking. Paisley won 19 trophies in 9 years. 3 European Cups in 5 years. Ferguson did sweet FA in his first 7. And like Nick said, only when he could far outspend his opponents did he start buying the league. My only joy when Abromovich bought Chelsea was that another team could compete with them financially. Because lets face it, Liverpool won the league so many times on a level playing field. Man U have been buying titles since the mid nineties.

  3. Rafa has improved the squad unquestionably in recent years. But remember £20m was spent on Robbie Keane which turned out to be a disaster. Im amazed how many Manure players cost more than £12m, and we got Benayoun for £5m, bargain of the century. Also £30m on Berbatov is an absolute joke.
    Also Fergusons record in the champions league is absolutely appalling which is something I wasnt aware of. As the article says that underlines Fergusons tactical weaknesses and, as all Liverpool fans like me know, Rafa thrives in tactical European matches. Its great to finally see Liverpool still competing for the league title with just a month to go, not out of it by January, and Rafa is right, even if we fail to overtake Manure this season the experience will definately help us next season and in seasons to come. Its ours next year if not this.

  4. The owners have backed Rafa with a large amount of money for new players each year but the other big 2 have had plenty to spend too so the gap remains. Rafa has to spend smart this summer if he wants to get to #1 because Chelski and the Manure have plenty to spend once again. Rafa has done better each year but the opposition has more money to do even better. So, any mistake by Rafa shows up more easily. Never hear much about the mistakes at Chelski or Manure. Yes, they do make mistakes too!

  5. i think…
    Rafa has improved the team each season in spite of the owners, and in all that chaos he is nearer to the top of the league today than we have been since the mid-ninety’s and that’s all down to one man. Rafa said today that this experience the players will get out of this season will be invaluable for the seasons to come.

  6. Wasn’t it confirmed that in 5 years Rafa had spent the same amount if not more money than Sir Alex ??????

    Or more importantly he has bought and sold much better than Rafa?????

    not wanting to ruin your totally unbiased and accurate report 😉

    Either way think you are all kidding yourselves about Rafa….all Kopites need to ask themselves one question…who would they rather have as Manager Rafa or Kenny? be truthful now.

  7. I look at Ferguson’s squad and wonder how has Rafa got the better of him, Rafa has had to change a team that had some good players but also some who were getting on in years and some who just were not up to the task.

    Only 3 are still here from when Rafa came. To see the difference Rafa has made you only have to look at the points tally, at this moment with 4 games still to play we have 74 points. We could end up with 86 points if we win the remaining games.

    Rafa got 58 points in his first season finishing 5th,we were 15 points behind MU in 3rd, and 14 points ahead of 14th just to give you some idea how far we were from 3td and how near we were to mid-table.

    The following season was a good one with the points total being 82 one point behind MU on 83, we had closed the gap from 15 points in 05 to one in 06. At the end of that season Ferguson was given about 100mill to spend, we spent about 25mill or there about. Ever since that year we have been playing catch up, also at the same time Rafa has had to deal with new owners who only want to take.

    Rafa has improved the team each season in spite of the owners, and in all that chaos he is nearer to the top of the league today than we have been since the mid-ninety’s and that’s all down to one man. Rafa said today that this experience the players will get out of this season will be invaluable for the seasons to come.

    Just a little piece about Ferguson the man, When his career is looked back upon, I hope it’s remembered the day he involved another Premier manager to lie for him about Rafa. Perhaps in Rafa he sees a future he don’t like, why else lie about a fellow pro.

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