Rafael Benitez has left Liverpool Football Club, that much is clear, but the reasons, and more pertinently the blame, for his departure are not.
Benitez would not be the first man to engineer an exit from his employers knowing that a huge pay off awaits. Rafael Benitez knows what it is to be undermined, the American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks publicly pursued Jurgen Klinsmann as a replacement not so long ago. Rafael Benitez had reason to be unhappy with the Anfield owners.
To appease him the owners offered him a very rewarding contract. To prove their trust in Rafael Benitez the owners allegedly included a clause entitling him to £16 million compensation should they ever decide to abruptly end his tenure. Rafael Benitez was secure. Even after a poor season where Liverpool finished seventh Rafael Benitez was in a position where he could demand what he wanted.
If the owners didn’t agree all they had to do was sack him. When he stressed the need for more transfer funds the Americans claimed there were no more available. Benitez said if he did not have the transfer funds necessary he could not guarantee results. The club finished seventh and Benitez was promising no improvement. If the club didn’t like it, they could sack him.
If Benitiez stayed he was in a win-win situation. Should results favour Liverpool he would be the manager who was fighting against the odds and winning. Should results go against Liverpool Rafael Benitez was immune, he wasn’t receiving the backing he wanted.
Liverpool didn’t have the money for transfers that Benitez wanted and they couldn’t justify a £16 million compensation fee. Even if Liverpool did have the money for the transfers the board no longer trusted Rafael Benitez to deliver on his promises. A compromise was offered, somewhere in the region of £3 million up front with a further £3 million to follow in staggered payments, and Benitez accepted.
The fans are blaming the owners, the owners are blaming the manager and Rafael Benitez is walking away with thanks from one and £6 million from the other. Rafael Benitez might look like the loser but there is only one winner in this saga and he is neither American nor Scouse.
photo credit: Ian Wilson