To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Rafael Benitez’s time at Inter Milan is about to come to an end. If rumours are to be believed, this very night sees Rafa’s agent, Manuel Garcia Quilon, negotiating the Spaniard’s second compensation package in the space of six months.
Jaded, Faded, Exhausted, Bitter Splits and Rebounds:
In June, Benitez left Liverpool after agreeing a £4 million compensation deal. A jaded, faded, and exhausted Rafa had brought the Reds about as far as he could and in his final season they slipped out of the top four and down the EPL pecking order.
While Rafa was leaving Liverpool, Jose Mourinho was moving towards the exit door at Inter Milan as the worst kept secret in football moved closer to becoming reality. When Mourinho did finally leave for Real Madrid the path was clear for Massimo Morati to offer Benitez the manager’s job at treble winning Inter Milan. It was one of the best cases of failing upwards you could ever hope to see.
In fairness to Rafa, he never should have taken the job. Not because he could never match Mourinho, in terms of personality, tactics, charisma, and trophies, Rafa will always be in Jose’s shadow and not because Inter had just come off their most successful season of all time.
No, Rafa should have never taken the job because he was obviously not over his split with Liverpool. He was still consumed in the Red drama as it unfolded on the steps of the courts and he was still very bitter at the manner of his removal.
That much was evident when Inter Milan played Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League when Rafa chose to let go with both barrels as he criticised the Christian Purslow and Roy Hodgson in a cryptic, verging on the insane, manner.
In short, Rafa’s mind was elsewhere from day one. Like any split that has gone badly, the last thing you ever want to do is get bogged down in a rebound affair, which Inter Milan so blatantly was.
The brief encounter between the Italian La Beneamata (Inter are also known as “the cherished one”) and the Spanish conquistador is all but over.
Brian Clough at Leeds…
Befoe the World Club Championships Massimo Morati said he wouldn’t sack his manager as it could upset him team, afterwards was a different story though. The clear indication was that Rafa would depart the San Siro when he returned.
In retaliation, as soon as Inter beat Africa’s TP Mazembe in the final, Benitez decided to give Morati an ultimatum. Either back him or sack him.
“There are three possibilities for the club”he said.
“One, 100 per cent support for the coach and buy four or five players to build a stronger team with competition among the players to be able to carry on winning matches and trophies.
“Two, carry on like this without a project, without planning, and go ahead with one person to blame, for the whole season.
“The third”he added, “is to speak to my agent to reach an agreement if there is not this support. Simple.”
It was an incendiary statement, especially when you consider Morati’s past record at dealing with manager’s who issued ultimatums and one must say that Benitez engineered the move in the end because he felt he was getting no support.
One must say though that Benitez has to take some of the blame for the lack of support he earned from the club and from the players specifically.
Upon taking over the Champions League and Italian Double winners the Spaniard made the same mistake that Brian Clough made when he moved to Leeds.
Both men disregarded past glories and made statements along the lines that styles of play would have to improve if they were to achieve anything.
Making such an amateur mistake right at the start of their time at the club left both men struggling to gain the respect, affection, and most importantly, trust of the respective clubs players.
So it came as no surprise to see the line to the physiotherapist room at the San Siro almost going around the block…
Never one to see the wood from the trees, or “a priest on a mountain of sugar” Benitez blamed all and sundry at Inter over their poor first half to the season and much like the final days of his Liverpool career he failed to see that he was a major part of the problem.
With his agent and Inter vice president Rinaldo Ghelfi, Technical Director Marco Branca, as well as the club lawyer Angelo Capellini negotiating an exit package that will suit all the parties involved.
Massimo Moratti commented: “At the moment, Benitez is the coach and I haven’t contacted any other coaches.”
At the moment…
Rafa for Liverpool?
Perhaps, the biggest surprises of all have been both Benitez and Jose Mourinho become linked with the managers job at their old clubs.
With Benitez on holiday in Liverpool, certain media outlets have suggested that NESV could consider bringing him back to the club. It would certainly be a popular move for the portion the Kop that considers the Spaniard as being the clubs best manager of all time.
The move is highly unlikely though. Benitez has proved that repeats itself every time as far as his career is concerned.
At Valencia he became embroiled in a political row with the clubs owners and technical directors, then he moved to Liverpool and a similar situation evolved, and now after just six months he has waded right into the political trenches at Inter Milan.
NESV would not be interested in taking on a manager who would openly case them problems or a manager who has baggage with their club.
The best course of action for Benitez would be to take some time away from football. He needs to rediscover his love of the game, search for the intrinsic reasons that made him become a coach in the first place.
Then he needs to find himself a good number two. A man who has all the attributes that Benitez does not, so that the two can work in parallel. A Paco Aystaran if you will. A ying for his yang. A Peter Taylor for his Brian Clough.
If he can find these the next step for Rafa would be to take a respectable mid to large sized club of the type of Espanyol or Aston Villa and achieve something of stature.
There is little doubt that Rafa’s star has fallen somewhat over the last couple of years but there are no reasons as to why he cannot return the game and manage at the highest level again, if he manages to look in the mirror and answer his own questions.