I don't know what Rafa Benitez's fascination with white substances that go in your coffee or tea is, but it seems to be getting out of hand. A couple weeks back, we were treated to what we think may have been a rant against former managing director Christian Purslow, which was something to do about identifying milk in a bottle. Yesterday, we receive this convoluted salvo that Roy Hodgson is a priest standing on a mountain of sugar. First of all, wherever there's a mountain of sugar, I want to be there. Because in America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women...
I am not a supporter of Hodgson by any means. I think he's almost certainly out of his depth at Anfield. But why Rafa continues to try and justify his record -- which didn't contain a trophy after his second season, mind -- is curious. It probably has something to do with the fact that he can do nothing to improve upon Mourinho's record at Inter this season, or the next few, and try and justify his place. If Inter win the league and Champions League again, he'll be accused of just doing it with The Special One's squad. Even Jose has already gotten on this bandwagon. Anything short of that, then he's just fucked up Mourinho's crystal ship. Fan-tastic.
When I look back at Rafa's years, I don't really know what to make of it. Can I question that the club moved forward from Houllier's reign? You can. Houllier managed a second place finish in 2002 to Arsenal by five points. No, he didn't provide an Istanbul, but there were a couple Carling/Coca Cola/Worthington/Fuck All Cups, an FA Cup, and a UEFA Cup. Total trophies, Houllier 4 - Benitez 2.
Were Benitez's teams far more entertaining than Houllier's? Not really, save the second half of 2008-2009. And that's where Rafa's record gets interesting. Yes, that's as close as we've come. But Rafa planted the seeds for that destruction with his simply maniacal chase of Gareth Barry over Xabi Alonso. I remember wandering the streets muttering, "Would Gareth Barry come even close to the Spanish team? Would he even get in one of the regional teams?" to every stranger. I nearly ended up with a brand new pair of silver bracelets. So even after that title-chase, Alonso had decided he'd had enough. Maybe he always planned to return home, but Rafa's attempted replacing of him with a significantly worse player didn't help.
Rafa can blame the owners all he wants, but they weren't the ones who splashed out on Ryan Babel and then either wouldn't play him or couldn't develop him. The owners weren't the ones who had to have Dirk Kuyt, shifted him to wing when Bellamy is probably a better winger, although a much bigger headache. It wasn't the owners who failed to find any back up for Fernando Torres, and then pissed all over Robbie Keane. It wasn't the owners who brought in Alberto Aquilani and then refused to use him. While Statler and Waldorf have their share of blame, the more Benitez talks, the more it appears he doth protest too much.