Rafa Benitez has done an admirable job at Liverpool since taking over. He hasn’t been brilliant – that would be Jose Mourinho’s 3-year stint at Chelsea – but in his own way he has given Liverpool respect and bit by bit transformed them into formidable opponents in Europe.
That he hasn’t enjoyed similar success in the Premier League has as much to do with the heavy spending of his rivals as it does with the time Rafa has taken to adapt to the Premier League and the frequent chopping and changing of his squad. Every year Liverpool look a step closer to the title and every year one thing or the other undermines their quest for success.
On the basis of his performances in the last few years, Benitez deserves an extension to his contract. However, Hicks and Gillett will have looked at the situation from a distance (no pun intended) and come to the conclusion that, if Liverpool want to compete on an equal footing with Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, then at the very least Liverpool need to match Arsenal’s form of last season till Christmas.
In other words, Rafa needs to earn the contract extension. He needs to get Liverpool in a position to be a genuine challenger for the title, not mathematically-possible outsiders of past years. And Liverpool finish in the top 2 or top 3 in a close title race, there wouldn’t have been a significant enough improvement in Liverpool’s performances to merit resigning Rafa for several more years, regardless of what he’s done in the past.