May 30, 2012
by Jim Boardman
LIVERPOOL goalkeeper Pepe Reina has called for a return to Anfield for former boss Rafa Benitez.
Before news broke that Liverpool had offered Brendan Rodgers a three-year contract to become the Reds’ manager, Reina told Spanish radio that he felt Rafa Benitez was the “ideal” choice for the role.
Speaking to Radio Marca, Reina said:
“The truth is that they have sounded out a lot of coaches [for Liverpool FC].
“Obviously whoever it is will be welcomed at the club but Rafa Benitez, for me, is the coach who made me and I cannot be objective about him because, for me and, I believe, for a lot of my team mates, he is the best and in my opinion would be the ideal candidate.”
Liverpool are expected to confirm the appointment of Rodgers soon, but it remains unclear whether Liverpool will, as has been extensively reported, bring in a sporting director. With the manager’s position now filled, some would like to see Rafael Benitez considered for such a role, but with FSG stubbornly refusing to even speak to Benitez it does seem that Pepe and his team mates will not be given that chance to work again at Anfield with the man they clearly have much respect for.
Rodgers will be made welcome at Anfield, of that there is no doubt, but only time will tell if FSG come to regret taking that advice to not even speak to Benitez.
Whoever gave them that advice certainly doesn’t seem to be speaking for all the club’s senior players. With Martin Skrtel reportedly considering his own future in light of the club’s difficulties in recent seasons Rodgers may have a fair amount of work to do with his new squad, many of whom are currently on international duty and will no doubt listening to tales of greener grass at their international team mates’ clubs.
In 2010 the club changed manager when the players were away on World Cup duty and it was Christian Purslow reportedly going out to see the players to convince them everything was going to be okay. It clearly didn’t work and no doubt played a part in the departures of Javier Mascherano and, later, Fernando Torres – whatever the overall reasons were. When Liverpool changed manager in 2004 Rafa Benitez got permission to speak to Liverpool’s England contingent as that change was announced during that year’s European Championships. Benitez surprised some supporters by singling out Jamie Carragher – then a full-back with an uncertain Anfield future – as a key part of his plans.
It obviously remains to be seen which players Brendan Rodgers – or that sporting director should one be appointed – sees as vital to this version of Liverpool’s future.