It’s been fascinating to see Rafa Benitez change over the last couple of months. His bullish nature had always been there before Liverpool games (especially when playing Chelsea or in Europe), but he’s taken it to a whole new level by showing a confidence and brashness not seen since he landed as Liverpool manager.
So when he complained that he can’t work under present conditions (something to do with the lack of time between international fixtures and domestic league games), I crushed the urge to make fun of the newly bearded one and tried taking him seriously (only for a second).
Rafa is absolutely right. Because your best players get very little resting time or even training time between Wednesday evening and Saturday morning, it’s tough for any club (let alone Liverpool) to prepare for league games, especially if they happen to be away games with a 12:45 pm kickoff. It’s somewhat the same when there are Champions League games in midweek, but no, it doesn’t mean that there’s a conspiracy against Liverpool.
“When you play for the title, if you lose two or three games away against ‘normal’ teams, after that you know maybe you can lose against the top sides and maybe your possibilities will be more difficult.”
At least he didn’t call them ‘small’ clubs, right?
One thing that I don’t agree with is what he says here about ‘changing schedules for the top teams’. If you want to fix something, make changes across the board and ensure that all the problems with international fixtures are resolved for all teams.
There have been proposals to give two month-long breaks during each season for leagues to play all their internationals – presumably that would also include qualifiers and friendlies. While such an approach would leave many players with nothing to do as they sit and watch from home, it also avoids the problems any targeted solution might cause. Why do special favors for the top teams when it’s a problem that affects a lot of clubs?