Rick Parry and the Liverpool board had one man particularily in mind when replacing Gerard Houllier. His name: Rafael Benitez. More
Article from liverpoolfc.tvMore
Guillem Balague's article in The Observer on Sunday May 22, 2005.
What a difference a year makes. 12 months ago today, Gerard Houllier was enjoying his last ever day as Liverpool manager. Who back then would have predicted Liverpool would be contesting their most important match in 20 years a year later? More
Andy Roxburgh interviews Rafa Benítez in October 2005.More
The side that plays Manchester United tomorrow bears the mark of a manager who has figured out the English game. Article from the Guardian on 21.01.2006.More
Benítez has transformed the club's fortunes with improvements in four areas, writes Dominic Fifield in the Guardian.More
Article from the Guardian By Jason Burt. Published: 06 February 2006.More
BBC Sport spoke to Benitez's biographer Paco Lloret to get a better idea of the man Rafael Benítez. Published 6. December 2005.More
Match report from The Guardian on Liverpool - Fulham on 15.03.2006.More
Dominic Fifield from the Guardian at Yokohama International Stadium on 18th of December, 2005.More
An article from the Independent By Andy Hunter - Published: 13 May 2006.
An article from The Guardian on 18th of November 2006 on Liverpool's poor away form in the 2006-2007 season.More
An article by Oliver Kay in The Times on 11.01.2007.More
There was optimism and much expectancy among Liverpool fans that 2006/7 would see Liverpool challenging for the Premiership. Alex analyses how Liverpool have coped against the top sides.More
An article by Andrew Tong from The Independent on 8th of April 2007.More
James Lawton from The Independent reflects on Rafa's tactics vs. Chelsea in the 1st leg Champions League semi-final on 25.04.2007.More
An interview with Steven Gerrard by Paul Eaton on 30 January 2007.More
Our analyst, Alex, decided to look at Rafa's league results at Liverpool by league position, it doesn't make for pleasant reading. More
LFChistory.net interviewed Ian Rush recently and here is an outtake from this exclusive interview that will be online next week.More
As Rafael Benitez prepares for his new life as manager of Liverpool Football Club he spoke at length about his Anfield arrival and his hopes for the future.More
LFChistory.net's very own Chris Wood says his goodbyes.More
Brilliant scribe Tony Evans interviews Rafa Benitez on 18th November 2009.More
BBC press report on Valencia - Liverpool 17th September 2002.More
Interview by Rob Draper at the Daily Mail on 6th March 2011.More
An interesting interview with Rafa from Titan Spor from 27 August 2009.More
Chris Wood's review of "Champions League Dreams : Rafa Benitez" written in conjunction with Rory Smith.More
"If you understand Carra, you'll understand everyone"
Benítez to Morientes when he arrived at the club
"It [football] reminds me of a game I used to play when I was about 12 or 13. It was a military game called 'Strategy' You had 40 pieces - a general, lieutenants, surgeons, bombs - and you had to capture the other person's flag. One time I lost so I spent all night thinking about the game and the strategy. Once I understood all the rules and the strategies I didn't lose again."
Benítez in March 2005
"In my time as a player and manager I certainly haven't seen the likes. In fact, the doctor at Melwood said to me that in 23 years he's never known anything like the amount of injuries we've suffered this season. I just touch wood that we are now over the worst. It's not my style to use injuries as an excuse for poor results and I'm not about to start now. True, we had had a lot of players injured but there's nothing we can do about that now. We just have to get on with things and make the best of what we have available."
Benítez on the 2004-2005 season
"We are preparing a special weightlifting plan for Gerrard's shoulders because we want him to lift a lot of trophies for Liverpool in the next few years! I am not in favour of selling him and we are building a great team around him because we want him to be the skipper who wins the most titles in Liverpool's history."
Rafa about Stevie G in June 2005
"I don't think we've changed anything about how we defend from last season. I think it's just down to time - we've been working with the boss for longer now and I think we now understand what he wants from us better. A year ago, we'd only been with the manager for six months and it takes time to change things at any club. We were used to playing one way before Benitez arrived and now, 18 months on, we're used to his style, his tactics and the way he wants us to play.
The zonal defending system is a good example of how things take time to perfect. I don't think many of the players had played it before because throughout most of our careers we've always gone man-to-man in the box but as soon as Rafa drilled it in to us what to do, I don't think we had many problems adjusting to it. The defence isn't perfect yet but as long as we keep working hard in training and during matches, we should improve further still."
Steve Finnan in December 2005
"As a squad we are beginning to realise and notice that his ideas are coming together and coming to fruition. He's playing a style which he wants and playing that style with players he wants in that group. It's important those two things come together. We are now seeing a Liverpool through the eyes of Rafa Benitez."
Morientes on Rafa Benítez' Liverpool in Dec 2005
- "I am a very proud man today because all managers like to arrive at the best clubs and we know Liverpool is one of the most important clubs in the world. I can say Liverpool is a joy. My office here is 20 metres long and eight metres wide, it is bigger than the oval office in the White House. I can see the training grounds and it's incredible, like being in another world."
"It feels as if I have been on a permanent honeymoon since I arrived here, I am on a cloud and I feel as if with Liverpool I have found the love of my life."
Rafa appreciates life at Liverpool
Speaking to Marca, Rafa stated: "I received congratulations from people all over England and Spain. Ferguson sent me a very strange one with a tactical evaluation - on his personalised paper - of Liverpool's performance in the whole competition, and particularly the final."
Benítez explains he had been inundated with correspondence following his team's dramatic triumph in Istanbul, but had been left slightly bemused by Ferguson's offering
"It would have been a lot easier for the fans if the parade was taking place on a nice day, but considering the bad weather it was even more amazing to see so many of our supporters come to see us. There was one youngster who must have ran alongside the bus for 15 minutes singing 'Rafa Benitez'. When you see this, you realise what it means to our supporters."
Benítez on the FA Cup victory parade in 2006
"There's a huge difference. Rafa and Pako have got a completely different way of training. We train harder, we train for longer and we work harder than we used to. Everything is about tactics as well. You know that they know what they are doing and that's the main thing. If you ask Pako, he tells you what we will be doing in training in two weeks time. That's unusual because when sometimes things don't go right, people change things. What he does is very impressive.
We work on tactics almost every day and if you look at our goals against record, that is a massive improvement. We played Valencia a few years ago when Rafa was in charge there and that was probably the hardest game ever for us. It was hard to get the ball and once we had it, we couldn't play. We got beat 1-0 at home and I think we only had half a chance through Emile Heskey. We were completely outplayed and couldn't get anywhere near them. When you work with them and see the way they train us now, you can see why Valencia played the way they did."
Hamann on the difference between Rafa and Houllier
"Rafa Benitez reminds me of Shanks. He understands the game, how to get the best from individuals, how to change a game with substitutions and his tactics are sound. He has gradually built a squad that looks far stronger than last season, combining class, pace, excellent movement and strength in depth."
Tommy Smith on Rafa in the summer of 2006
"If you analyse the leagues in Europe, normally only the top teams with a lot of money win trophies. The rest just try. In the last two years we have won four trophies, including the most important in the world, the Champions' League. A lot of managers at top clubs do not have the Champions' League in their cabinet.
We won 12 games in a row, kept 33 clean sheets and won 82 points in the Premiership last season so we know how to win and play well in the League. It is difficult for foreign managers to adapt to the Premiership but not a lot of managers can say they have won four trophies in two seasons. Chelsea, with two Premierships, the Carling Cup and the Community Shield, are the only ones. I don't know how many English managers have been abroad - Toshack, Kendall - but it is not easy. So to win the Champions' League with a new team, another language and a new style of life, is very pleasing for me."
Benítez defends his managerial record at Liverpool in November 2006
"He doesn't sleep! He's always thinking about football. You cannot have a chat with him out of football. Everything is football. You can see him on the street and ask how are you?, and he'll say 'I'm fine, I'm thinking about the next game'.
Luis Garcia on Rafa's talent as boss
"Playing against a small team it is not always easy when they have nine men behind the ball all the time. One team wanted to win while one team came not to lose. We controlled the game and had all the possession, and they had one chance from our mistake. After that we controlled everything."
Rafa's famous quote after the Merseyside derby on 3rd of February 2007
"If Rafa said he wanted to buy 'Snoogy Doogy' we would back him. Rafa's feeling is we need more depth because of the rigours of the schedule to be competitive. That's where the genius of the manager is so essential and that's where Tom and I have to defer to his background and genius."
Liverpool's co-chairman George Gillet in May 2007
"Rafa has already achieved the third highest points tally in our history; a total big enough to win 16 of our 18 titles is now regarded as a mere platform on which to build a challenge!"
Steven Kelly in Liverpool Daily Post on 1st of August 2007
"It is a really positive day for the club to be in the record books and get the go-ahead for the new stadium makes a lot of people really happy. It’s almost a perfect day."
Why not perfect?
"They had one chance," smiled the perfectionist Reds manager.
Rafa Benítez in November 2007 after the record Champions League win vs. Besiktas
"After the game, Sheila, who was sitting right in line in the main stand, said to me that the ball had crossed the line. She was a very honest person so that was good enough for me. It was a goal."
Rafa Benítez on Luis Garcia's goal vs Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final. Sheila Walsh his private secretary, left no doubt in his mind on the validity of the goal!
"My first fortnight at the club was inhumane. Rafa Benítez criticised everything I did, from the way I did some basketball practice to how I played my football. But now I am grateful to him for filling me in on how the team works."
According to Alvaro Arbeloa his first two weeks at Liverpool were no picnic
Even after five years with Rafa, I still feel I want to please him, that I want to impress him in every game I play. The great managers are like that. There are a handful operating on a different level and I am lucky enough to play for two of them, Benitez and Fabio Capello.
'It is when you see what they put in, some of the little things they spot, that you realise how hard they work. Rafa will make a point, and you’ll be thinking, "Has this guy not got a life?" because it seems so minor, but it is what sets him apart.
'I can have a good game – tell you what, I’ll be big-headed, say I’ve had a fantastic game – we’ve won 2-1 in the last minute and I’ve scored both.
'I come back into the dressing-room and I’m buzzing, bouncing off the walls, thinking "I feel good today", that is when Rafa comes up and starts talking about a throw-in when they changed the play and I pressed far too late. He’ll say: "If you want, we’ll go out there and I’ll show you". Or you’ll have a run of 10 games when you’re in form and flying and he’ll pop you a DVD of your recent play and it’s broken up into sections good and bad. And you’re thinking, "Hang on, bad? I didn’t do anything wrong". But you’ll watch it and you’re out of position in one match, or you pressed late or you let a man go at a set-piece. You wonder when the guy sleeps.
'At first when he did things like that, I’d be asking, "Has he not watched my last 150 games for Liverpool?" There is a danger that you think he has it in for you because he pulls you so much.
'When he arrived, he would keep saying to me "Left foot, left foot" or I’d shoot and he would say "hit the target" and I’m thinking, "Look, mate, I’m trying to hit the f***ing target". 'I would say to people "I'm 26 – if he doesn’t think my left foot’s working now, it’s never going to work" but then a few weeks later I scored with my left and he came up with a little smile and said "lucky goal today, left foot and it hit the target" and then the penny dropped. 'Finally, I realised it was the way he helped push you on and as a player you either recognised it or fought it and, with these guys, if you fight it there is only one winner.
Gerrard on Rafa in September 2009
I decided to sign an extension because the squad was good and the money was going to be there. But the conditions changed. We've had a bad season and hopefully things will be different in the future, but at the moment I can't talk about the future because I don't know what's going on. I left Valencia because conditions changed. It was not a question of my money that I stayed at Liverpool. I said 'no' to other massive offers. I decided to stay under certain conditions and they have changed. The players share the same frustrations. I know how they feel because I've been talking to them all season. The season has not been good, that is clear. We know why and what has to change.
Rafa claims promises broken in April 2010
We don't have a style of play. I watched Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa the other night and you could see the style of both teams and what they were trying to do. When we go out and play, and the last week has just emphasised it, we don't have a style of play. Nobody can say 'this is how we're trying to play' because you cannot see anything. It seems to be a case of getting the ball and pass it to whoever is square of you. Today it was punt it up the park time but the other night against Reading it was just square ball after square ball. We don't have a system that we used to have when Liverpool got the ball and then were all moving and you could see who was playing to who and who went where. You could see the movement and read the game ahead because the players were reading the game ahead. Apart from the most boring football, it has been diabolical and when the cameras cut to the fans they're looking at it with a glazed look in their eyes. They can't understand it.
Ian St John is fed up by Benítez' tactics on 17th January 2010
"We have a saying in Spanish: 'White liquid in a bottle has to be milk. What does this mean? It means that after 86 points and finishing second in the league, what changed? "The Americans, they chose a new managing director and everything changed. The managing director is involved in all the decisions: new lawyer, new chief of press, new manager, nine new players, new medical staff, new fitness coaches - they changed everything. So, white liquid in a bottle: milk. You will know who is to blame. White liquid in a bottle. If I see John the milkman in the Wirral, where I was living, with this bottle, I'd say, 'It's milk, sure'."
Rafael Benitez launched a cryptic attack on the club's ousted owners and managing director Christian Purslow in October 2010.