Manager in the media: Everyone’s favourite, Rafael Benitez
1 weeks ago, 16:30
Johnny’s new series takes a positive look at managers in the media and what we like about them. This week he turns his loving gaze upon the current Newcastle manager and a man who many of us love with an almost unhealthy passion, and man who, like Madonna, Sting and Beethoven, only needs one name. That’ll be Rafa, then.
Who Are Ya?
Rafael Benítez Maudes wasn’t much of a player. He turned out 150-odd times in Spain for Parla and Linares as, what one would suspect was a robust, somewhat pink-cheeked defender. Got a major twang and by the young age of 26 had retired to work as a coach at Real Madrid, so his talent in this regard must have been evident early on.
Did the hard yards from 1993 – 2001 as manager of Real Madrid B, Real Valladolid, Osasuna, Extremadura and Tenerife. Got his big chance at Valencia and wowed everyone by winning La Liga in 2001–02 and again in 2003–04 when he also won the UEFA Cup. Yes, he was brilliant and that’s why Liverpool hoovered him up.
At Liverpool there was an existential connection between the fans, the club and him. Like all loving emotion, it does not surrender to easy or cheap words but there was and still is an obvious and lifelong bond that nothing will erode.
Look at any photo of Rafa and you can see a gentle kindness in his eyes and yet, when needed, he also has some steel shutters in there. One of the few managers in the league not to sport a flat stomach, which is another reason to love him, he is just tubby enough to suggest he is a man who likes the finer things in life and in substantial quantities.
Has a kind of rolling, side-to-side gait that looks informed by excellent red wine.
The sort of man it is impossible to imagine in anything other than a decent but far from extravagant suit, white shirt, club tie, cheeks always a little flushed facial hair trimmed and modest.
Of course, Liverpool fans still love him and his family still live on Merseyside. Theirs is an unusually special relationship for football. He just ‘got’ Liverpool. He understood the club and still feels the place deeply and this is reflected back to him by the fans. And if you think this isn’t true, if you think this is romantic nonsense, then here is your proof.
Trotted around Europe picking up lots of big jobs and then decided to join Newcastle United, even though they were destined to be relegated. Clearly, a man who likes a challenge and this made many of us admire him even more.
What I have always liked about Rafa is that when he’s being interviewed pre or post game, he turns his head slightly to one side and narrows his eyes as he tries to understand whatever the microphone holder is saying. He also almost ...
Category: sports football