Rafael Benítez entangled in political war at Anfield

By Michael Owen
anfield liverpool As the UK general election heats up it's quite fitting that Liverpool's boardroom does too

anfield liverpool

As the UK general election heats up it’s quite fitting that Liverpool’s boardroom is too.

It’s all getting quite political at Anfield, and Rafael Benítez’s departure as Liverpool manager could come quicker than Gordon Brown’s removal from Number 10.

The Spanish boss and Labour’s struggling leader do, however, have something in common. Both have said things in the past which have been used against them, and both will almost certainly regret making these overly ambitious statements in the first place.

Benítez’s promise of a fourth place finish is reminiscent of Brown’s claim that “long gone are the days of a boom to bust economy”. Brown’s statement was followed by one of the biggest economic collapses in the UK’s history whilst Benítez’s Champions League promise didn’t materialise, with Liverpool now stuck in seventh place with just one game to go.

But this isn’t the first-time the Liverpool manager has failed to uphold a promise. When the former Valencia boss first came to Anfield he had a five-year plan to bring the Premier League title to Anfield; five years which have now past, and second place is all the Reds have to show domestically.

This isn’t to say that Benítez has failed, far from it. The Liverpool manager has brought five years of constant improvement, with European qualification turning from a luxury to a necessity for the Merseyside club. Not forgetting the club’s Champions League triumphs under Benítez, as well as an FA Cup, Charity Shield and a European Super Cup.

What it does show is that planning for the future in football management, as in politics, is close to impossible.

When Benítez came to manage Liverpool he expected to do exactly that: manage. What he didn’t expect to do was have to balance the books and fight for power with two irresponsible and neglectful owners.

But surprisingly it may not be the two Americans which force the 50-year-old to turn his back on Anfield, though it is likely to be one of the people they brought in to sit on the board, Chief Executive Christian Purslow.

Purslow, a Harvard Graduate who was brought in to help seal investment for the club -something he’s failed to do -has had a considerably turbulent relationship Benítez after the supposed ‘life-long Liverpool fan’ rather carelessly slated the manager at public events.

But his comments about the manager aren’t what will have got to Benítez the most. What will have really drove the Liverpool boss to the edge of handing in his notice is Purslow’s enquiry into signing Rafael Van Der Vaart from Real Madrid, an approach the chief executive made last week without the permission of the Reds manager.

Benítez, for those who don’t know, was very persistent when agreeing a new contract that he had full-control over transfers. It was clearly something he felt was essential following on from the shambolic handling of the signing and sale of Robbie Keane. The chief executive’s approach showed a complete lack of concern for this request, and it may well have been the final frustrating chapter to finish the story on Benítez’s tenure at Anfield.

The Liverpool boss is set to meet with new chairman Martin Broughton this week and for all the good it will do, it’s hard to see anything being negotiated apart from the Spaniard’s Anfield exit, and that will be a huge blow for the club.

The Spaniard has become  entangled in a political war with below-par owners, preventing him from doing what he promised when he first arrived -winning the Premier League title.

Bill Shankly once said that there was a holy trinity at Liverpool Football Club: the manager, the players and the fans. The board didn’t come into it. Clearly that isn’t the case today, and Rafael Benítez may well be the first victim in the downfall of Liverpool Football Club.

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