Rafa Benitez has found himself in some very hot water in his first year with Inter and the former Liverpool boss needs to win immediately if he expects to survive his debut season as manager of the powerhouse Italian club. Inter president Massimo Moratti recently admitted that ten years ago he would have already fired the new coach, but I suppose the president has become more tolerant over the years and wants his new man to succeed.
But Rafa is not helping himself out with mediocre results despite having a historic treble winning roster saved over from last season. Injuries and lack of form have plagued the treble winners this season and currently they sit in 5thplace in Serie A with 10 points to makeup on first place Milan and four points to recover from the top four clubs in the league. Even worse for Rafa the side has looked mediocre at best in the Champions League with surprising losses to Tottenham and most recently Werder Bremen.
Rafa told his critics that his club’s “aim was clear” and that losing the match to the German side did not matter because they had already sealed qualification to the next round:
Our aim is clear – it’s the Club World Cup. We saw that was the case against Werder. We played the game having already qualified for the next round. The match that was truly important was the one that we won at home to Twente [two weeks ago]. I played the youngsters at Werder and I believe that was the positive aspect of the game as we didn’t want to risk losing a player to injury.
Inter’s mentality will change. The players that are injured will return to play and it will be different. I don’t believe my future depends on that (Club World Cup). I hope the team does well as a team, then the individual quality may help but what is important is the team.
I understand Rafa’s point that sometimes you have to choose your battles wisely and know what matches are worth the extra effort, but suggesting that any match is not important or any defeat does not matter openly is just plain foolish because you also have to consider the importance of winning your group and remaining a favorite to win the biggest tournament in the world. Second seeded teams have a much tougher road to the finals and claiming any Champions League match is not as important as another goes against the principles of coaching a team.
Rafa needs a turnaround soon because the time is beginning to run out.