Pepe Reina: Rafa Benitez is the coach who made me

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.



  • raj seewoodin

    pepe stop talking please, it u who r responsible 4 dalgish sacking by conceding stupid goal 2 let the team slip down ,if u have not conceded this 2 silly goal agaisnt chealsea may be dalgish will be sill here.just shut your mouth bcoz u r the main one if liverpool has not been in the final 4

    • Muhammad

      Its not Reina who need to shut up, its you and stupid fans like you who supported Kenny dalglish, the worst manager in my recent memory, he bought pathetic players at shocking price and his Ego playing his own signings costed us the 4th place. Now he walked happily away with wasting 120 m + we lost 90 m due to his stupid financial handling + 8 m for his compensation pay + all these downings and hendersons he left for us….i hope fans like you stop supporting LFC and instead go work as a dalglish domestic help…because for you he matter more then the club.

  • @raj seewoodin…shut it! i agree with pepe on this one, rafa would have been the best option. we were a force under him and were feared all around europe. anyway hope you still stay with us pepe!!!!!!whoever comes in we have to get behind him – but if things are bad at christmas, fsg must surely call on rafa??

  • Pepe Reina right, he’s was the best man for the job and that what FSG should of based there search on, it was plain as day.

    Who ever advised against Rafa to FSG, I think they done it out of ignorance or self interest , I will never forgive them for that ,

    I think it was that arse creeper yes man Ayre, so sooner he leaves the better, I say good riddance to bad rubbish, probably a few over aged players, in fear of protecting there own over valued contracts as well, because we all know Rafa would have moved them on, to benefit the club.

    Rafa might walk alone by the club that shunned him, but he will never walk alone in the supporters hearts, and they say we all in this together, My arse.

  • Dl

    Raj, shut YOUR mouth you ill informed little turd, the owners have confirmed that Kenny would have gone even if we won the fa cup, you moronic illiterate parasite.

  • Joe

    And what’s the point of this Jim on the eve of the appointment of a new start & manager. Rafa Benitez will never be back at this club in any way, shape or form & the more of this nonsense that comes for this cult the less chance that he will ever be considered. If Pepe or anyone else feels it’s time to move on then so be it, they did’nt exactly but a gut for their manager last year.

    • Bob

      Joe, you don’t know what will happen; no-one does. Would you have predicted a return for Dalglish – after twenty years? Or Robbie, after five years away?

      What will happen if Rodgers fail to fire, or loses the dressing room? At that point, Rafa would have to be at least considered, because, that being the case, we’d be an even less attractive proposition than we are now, and Rafa is by far the best candidate available now – and will remain so.

    • naja

      Well said, Joe. I wasn’t as gutted for Kenny as I was furious with the players themselves, so it’s a bit rich of them to start making noises about who to appoint. In many ways, FSG have mixed the gentlemanly conduct with the ruthless response. They appointed the king, even though he did not represent what they had in mind, as a nod to us, the fans. And then they ditched him – quite horribly in my view, but that’s how business is conducted in America – the moment his way did not look conducive to the modern club they had in mind.

      Now, FSG have made their intentions much clearer, and I for one will subscribe wholeheartedly: big names in management don’t know how to operate without the big bucks any more, nor are they attracted to struggling clubs. So the owners have gone for high potential to counter big bucks. It makes utter sense when you are looking into building for the long term rather than aiming for instant success. If Barcelona’s development is their benchmark, then they are absolutely right in choosing someone with the potential of Guardiola rather than the man himself, and are investing in youth rather than in has-beens. This includes the Academy, which Pep himself describes as the best in the world. As such, it would be the stupidest, most backward-looking move to select Rafa. If we want to own the future, we cannot invest in nostalgia.

      • ken

        Nostalgia? So his ability don’t come into it then? And that would be Rafa’s academy by the way.

      • CHRIS

        The stupidest move to bring back Rafa? Explain why, for goodness’ sake!! The youth set-up is possibly the most highly regarded part of the club at the moment, and it was Rafa who created it.

        You speak utter nonsense. When even Purslow said he was a strong candidate, Pepe talks about his return as being the ‘ideal’ outcome, Didi Hamann says in his autobiography that Rafa is ‘pure managerial genius’ – what has Didi got to gain from saying that?

        He is one of the world’s best managers, and when you talk about not being able to operate on a budget, five of our best players – Lucas, Pepe, Skrtel, Agger and Maxi – were all signed for about £25m. That’s half the first team. It’s still a fair sum, but we’re talking about trying to win the title, and so when you’re competing against the huge sums invested in Man. City and Chelsea, in particular, but also Man.U., he’d have to be a miracle worker to discover wonder players for tiny fees.

        Think before you comment; don’t just go along with the foolhardy opinions of others.

    • CHRIS

      Anyone can bust a gut, but still have poor form. After five years of excellence, is it not understandable taht Pepe may have an off year? Do we really think that Pepe simply ‘let in’ that goal against Chelsea in the final? It’s possible – possible – that players are not fully committed in the league, especially if things are going badly (witness the poor attitudes on display in Rafa’s final season), but when there’s a chance of a winner’s medal at the end of the match? Is that realistic, to suggest he was not ‘busting a gut’?

      Utter nonsense.

    • Max

      Shut up you you idiot, you and you conspiracy theories.

  • senono juma

    Please Reina u should stop talking funny stories, there is no need to return the past, we should now focus on the new techniques of the new manager, what’s if he adds u more.

  • King Billy

    Liverpool and it’s fans do not deserve Rafa.
    Rodgers, Kenny etc are more suited for the club and fans alike. My criticism of Rafa would be that he shows loyalty and respect to the club it’s history and it’s fans who clearly do not deserve it. Best of luck.

  • sam k

    Thank you pepe for saying what the majority of fans wanted, majority of former players wanted and if pepe is to be believed then the majority of the squad wanted! Sources for statement are fans forum polls, media statements by Legends Barnes, molby and Fowler and pepes remarks above.
    We wanted rafa bit got someone unproven who hasn’t won anything significant in his career as a player or manager. However weust always support the club, all in olved board and management, Rodgers will be keen to suceed and he might not get champs league early on and he will certainly fail to convince the high profile rising stars on the continent to sign for us but he will build his own bunch of decent players into hopefully a bastion of invincibilty. Let’s get behind him and sad to say it accept lower expectations this season, this should help Rodgers deal with the pressure of the job, something he has never experienced in his caterer so far. Let’s add the points up at the end of the season and hopefully there will be a significant improvement if not then let’s have the debate then. For now let’s just accept the decision and give this guy a chance.

  • morgo

    what are you talking about,rafa is one of the worst managers liverpool have ever had and there is a reason for him being sacked. and people need to stop saying daglish didnt have enough time do you remember how long we had roy hodgson i will tell you six months it was and you remember how long it was until we sacked robbie kean also 6 months some people are so ficle as soon as we singed andy carroll i backed him but ALL you writ him off!!! so shame on you reina shame on you !!!

  • Damien

    now jim, pepe has commented on rogers, u might run that….you like trying to stir things.
    and note pepe says he is at his disposal. he knows he has been crap for a year and he will be lucky to stay with us.
    and maybe try and ask him for his thoughts on rafa leaving us with one striker with the title in our hands.

  • David_M

    It is not back ward to select Rafa if one has read and did coaching courses in the first place and as well study what others are doing in the coaching world. One would know the guy is very much on the ball in the footballing front. And it was he who predicted that Spain would be playing the way they did in 2006.

    Also that the Barcelona system would become the gold standard of pressing possession football. And to mimic this at Liverpool would need him to restructure the entire Academy set-up, Hence Borrell et all being involved on Rafa’s invitation. He asked for this in 2008 onwards. Only got it in 2009 to have full spectrum oversight of the Academy to First Team. You all tell me now, How is this going backwards? Hodgson was going backwards, Kenny was going backwards because of his lack of understanding on the evolution of the game compared to his time at Newcastle, Which the Newcastle fans will tell you was horrible to say the least. He is a motivator that is about it, And he even failed in that this season. He was clearly out of his depth. Poor man.

    No matter how you look at it. 2 La Liga titles, and 2 European finals and compared to a promotion of Swansea that for one season played good football is no comparison. FSG are just trying to implement their methodology that was used in the Red Sox to the Reds using the statistical calculations and using youth.

    It does not work like this in football for a team in transition to be successful. First of all Statistics for one which FSG love to analyse only makes good analytical reading if they are static plays, Which are abundant in Baseball. It is not a flowing game, So statistics are an essential part of the game. In football its a flowing game, Statistics cannot be interpreted the same way. To prove a point, A football manager’s peak is between 45 to their late 50’s. Just check the most successful manager’s and their peak success. Don’t count Guardiola in this mix, He had Johan Cruyff mentor him for 2 season from 2007 -2009, Add to that Pep was a once in a generation manager. No way can Rodgers match or even come near him.

    The only person on the list of managers that had the ability to outwit Pep in his own game was not even offered the job (Rafa), Which to put it mildly is pathetic. Alot of people OUTSIDE of Liverpool and the UK who are LFC fans know that we should have given it to Rafa with this current set-up. He would have been able to do much more. Look at Rodgers, He got exactly what he wanted while other managers of higher calibre did not, What did he get? Full control of all team affairs. The set up he asked for was not dissimilar to what Rafa or Mourinho would ask for. The difference is Mourinho does not care as much about the youth aspect of a club more the short term success of the first team’s cycle. To me its clear bias by FSG to go for a young manager for the sake of their ideology. And paying 5mill in compensation to boot. What a gamble and waste of money. I like Rodgers personally, But he is not LFC calibre yet. If he had taken Villa and brought them Champions League football I would have said then and there, Get him into LFC. But its not the case so there it is.

    If people want to blindly support without considering the consequences of actions than go ahead. Be ignorant. I have and always given my full support to the Club, Does not mean I have to agree with the owners and the management. In my view, We have taken a HUGE gamble based on the owners ideology which is born out of ignorance towards Football using Baseball as the standard marker.

    Which bodes the question, Who is the idiot advising these people? And making them loose more and more money? Which will hurt the punter’s pocket in the long term?

    Look at the players being linked to LFC. That alone tell’s us where we stand. Don’t forget we were feared in Europe even 2 years ago.