Benitez uncovered

Liverpool meet Chelsea for the fourth time in the Champions League in the space of just over six months on Tuesday with both teams assured of a place in the last 16.
Both Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez have been been in charge of their respective clubs for just over a year now.

Both men have enjoyed unheralded success, Mourinho guiding his side to the league title and the Carling Cup, while Benitez's side won a remarkable Champions League final against AC Milan.

But while much has been written about Mourinho - the self proclaimed "Special One" - Benitez has adopted an altogether lower profile since arriving in England.

BBC Sport spoke to Benitez's biographer Paco Lloret to get a better idea of the man responsible for reshaping Liverpool since taking over from Gerard Houllier.


Rafa always believes in the strength of the team, that if you work hard you can be better than the richest teams in the world.

"He demonstrated that with Valencia, before he had arrived they had not won the Spanish league for over 30 years.

"Yet under him Valencia won two titles even though Real Madrid and Barcelona probably had the better players.

"He wants to give a personality to Liverpool. At Valencia, sometimes you thought the team moved in such harmony that they were being controlled by him on the touchline."


"Perhaps Rafa is not so good at buying players.

"I was speaking with Rafa's agent before Liverpool played Real Betis in Spain back in September.

"He told me that Rafa is the best coach, but sometimes he is so intent on watching the game, that he doesn't watch the players.

"The agent said that his eyes were better at spotting players than Rafa's eyes.

"Rafa knows the Spanish market well and that is why he has mainly signed Spanish players.

"But he knows that the team needs English players - it is important for the club's personality. He likes to discover young players, who have a good level he can improve."


"He believes he has to work harder than when he arrived at Valencia.

"He has been surprised by the large number of games you have to play in England. It's impossible to rest and recover players. Every game you have to play 100%.

"He likes to rotate his team and change the players. He was famous at Valencia for this. He liked to experiment with players. Every Sunday when Valencia played nobody knew who would be in the team.

"He knows it is going to be more difficult for Liverpool to win the Premiership than the Champions League. That's the prize he wants to be win, but it will be difficult because of Chelsea."


From the first day as Liverpool manager he has always spoken in English. He always want to improve and to demonstrate he can do anything. Most Spanish people would have used a translator for that first year.

"He likes England and the city of Liverpool. At Melwood he has everything and most importantly freedom.

"He thinks of it as a laboratory where he can do everything and anything. Training the players, buying and selling and organising the Academy.

"He is so crazy about football - he thinks about it 24 hours a day.

"He likes living in a country with a long tradition of the game, and to be with a great club like Liverpool.

"He has said he wants to be five years in Liverpool. He is happy, his wife is happy and his daughters are happy."


"Rafa is a very good chess player - he has been playing the game ever since he was a child.

"He likes his team to behave as if they were players in a chess game. He hates losing when he plays chess. Though I'm not sure he has much time to play chess now he is in England." 

Copyright - BBC

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