THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

21 December ~ Following José Mourinho was always going to be a thankless task for Rafael Benítez. Not only did Mourinho win just about everything there is to win during his time in charge at Inter, he was also an exciting, passionate and absorbing public figure and front-man, a pantomime hero and a pantomime villain all at once. Benítez, on the other hand, could not be more different. He has neither the charm nor charisma of Mourinho. In short, he is a PR disaster.

Winning the Club World Cup should have vindicated Benítez (even if it was Mourinho who presented him with the opportunity in the first place). It should have gone some way to silencing his critics, in turn, buying him both time and bargaining power against those who questioned his suitability for the role. For one night at least, Benítez should have let the football and the victory do the talking. All he had to do was be humble in public.

Instead, Benítez has managed to put himself under even more pressure by giving an acceptance speech in which he managed to criticise his players, alienate the Inter fans, offend and belittle his boss, club president Massimo Moratti, before effectively offering the board an ultimatum: "I dedicate the win to my family, to Spain, to Liverpool supporters, to the staff, to the players, to [Walter] Samuel," Benítez said confusingly, before launching into the following outburst: "Now we will have a calmer period but to go forward we need total support, if we get that we can improve. By support, I mean first and foremost in the transfer market. I've spoken to Moratti and he knows what about. I've always done my job, right from the beginning and I need to have control of the players and what they do. If I have this support, which you should always have and should be total, otherwise you're always blaming someone and the team doesn't improve."

"I deserve respect," he continued, "I've shouldered all the blows and all the responsibilities but in August the club promised me three players but no one arrived. Now there are three roads: either the club buys four players right now in January or we continue like this with the coach who is the only person to blame or otherwise the president speaks to my agent and we find a solution. Last year, Moratti spent €80 million (£68m) on five players, but this year with a new coach he's spent nothing. After the summer I was 100 per cent disappointed with the transfer market. I want to know what the players are doing. These lads have done no gym work for two years and to compensate for this athletic work they go to the gym without my knowing, and they hide problems and injuries."

Having done the only thing he could do to ease the pressure on his position – win the Club World Cup – Benítez may have just sabotaged his good work by making these comments. Clearly he had some things he wanted to get off his chest. Furthermore, his comments were honest and, placed in some degree of perspective, suggest this is a man who takes pride in what he does. To everyone else, however, it's hard not to see this as anything other than PR suicide. Walking with a pistol to his head? Benítez might just have pulled the trigger on himself. Isidore Lewis

Comments (10)
Comment by pwa 2010-12-21 11:21:36

Completely agree...He's only got himself to blame and won't last long.

Comment by Charlie10 2010-12-21 11:26:59

Benitez lives in his own dream world. He was probably the only person who thought he could do better than Mourinho did.

Comment by t.j.vickerman 2010-12-21 12:42:32

I present the following quotes from a well-known football manager made after a victory at the weekend:

"We have a club, a structure, and I want someone to defend my team."

"If I can talk to the No1, why would I talk to anyone else?!"

"Why can't we have a division of opinion?"

"I would like more."

These quotes were aimed variously at his club, his president, his director of football and the supporters. Who is this charmer, clearly needing to work on his PR skills?

Oh, it's the special one.

I guess the difference is that one generally wins more football matches than the other.

Comment by taddison87 2010-12-21 13:11:08

@t.j.vickerman:

It is different, Guillem Balague has a great piece in The Times today (or maybe yesterday) on the ridiculous situation that Mourinho is having to deal with at Real. Benitez's situation, or at least how it has currently spiralled out of control, is entirely his own fault.

Comment by ian.64 2010-12-21 13:18:52

At the very least, Benitez shares a trait with any manager in charge of the bigger, highest-profile clubs. Like Ferguson with his so-called 'mind-games' (and, at times, boorish opinions on clubs and people in the game), Wenger with his somewhat comical refusal to see the on-field indiscretions of his own squad and to recognise those teams who have matched his, and Mourihno's ability to wreck the careers of referees he doesn't like, Benitez has the risky licence to behave in as childish and farcically self-important a manner as he wishes. The bigger the outfit a manager is in charge of, the more uncritical freedom by certain sections of the media he's given to say what and act how he wants. A manager of a lesser club would never get away with it, but a Ferguson or a Mourihno could come out with the most contemptible slop and have their way - and even be admired by various sycophants for it.

Benitez is using that licence, although, by the sound of it, not for very long.

Comment by JimDavis 2010-12-21 14:22:36

Well Big Sam is now free. According to him, if any big club was to hire Big Sam then they would win everything for all eternity......or something like that.

Comment by kbmac 2010-12-21 17:38:45

ian.64 has a point but in fairness we tend to weigh achievments against outbursts and if the achievements are considerable we are more accepting of the outburst. Where there is little evidence of achievement best to keep quiet and do your job.

Comment by t.j.vickerman 2010-12-22 07:02:14

I think what annoys me is the image the British press have of Benitez as a clown whereas Mourinho is a genius. Pretty much in the same way that Capello is now a clown and Harry Redknapp a genius. It's interesting that Liverpool were seen as underperforming under Benitez last season but now they're actually not that good. Rather than Hodgson doing anything wrong, it's Benitez's fault for leaving behind a steaming pile of international footballers whose inability to win a game away from home is nothing to do with Uncle Woy. I suppose I'd like to see some sensible objective analysis from our fine press but I suppose that's too much to ask...still, Benitez doesn't help himself sometimes.

Comment by ian.64 2010-12-22 08:39:51

Kbmac: That's pretty much the point I was making, to be honest. Ferguson, for instance, is one of the greatest football managers the game has ever produced, yet, at his most insolent, he can be a pretty repugnant and unpleasant piece of work, even when he has the backing of all his achievements which seem to let him off the hook when he's playing his bastard act. At this point, you'll get some who'll say that you have to be this way to win things. It's a depressing reality. There's nothing more I'd like than to celebrate what successes Ferguson and Mourihno have produced and how they can rack up the trophies with ruthless finesse. That they can be horrible c*nts most of the time stops me from doing that. Heresy as it may be, I really would like to see a successful nice guy.

TJ: The press do have Benitez as their clown act, but Benitez has - some time if not all of the time - helped them form this act. The ridiculous 'facts' press conference set the seal of idiocy on his image, and his siege-like defence of his own managerial conduct has led to a few awkward moments where he simply hasn't done himself justice. As for the footballing press, well, they do what they damn well please and they're as contempible in their Old Boys Act as they always were. One look at Sky Sunday Supplement, where the top four Premiership clubs are all that matter and that 'Arry' is one top geezer and The Greatest English Football Manager There Ever Was is testament to the fact that Hell exists. With Benitez, I also think that he has a stunning lack of self-awareness which leads to more than a few embarrassing moments. The more you think you're something else, the more of a git you appear in the eyes of many.

Comment by Dalef65 2010-12-24 15:05:17

"The more you think you`re something else,the more of a git you appear in the eyes of many"

Very apt;This is why many casual observers see Benitez as some sort of bluffer...

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