Rafael Benítez

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For the United States Navy submarine commander, see Rafael Celestino Benítez.
This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Benítez and the second or maternal family name is Maudes.
Rafael Benítez
Rafael Benítez.jpg
Personal information
Full name Rafael Benítez Maudes
Date of birth (1960-04-16) 16 April 1960 (age 54)
Place of birth Madrid, Spain
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[1]
Playing position Sweeper[2]
Club information
Current team
Napoli (manager)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1974–1981 Real Madrid Castilla 247 (7)
1981 Guardamar (loan)
1981–1985 Parla 124 (8)
1985–1986 Linares 34 (7)
Total 405 (22)
National team
1979–1981 Spain Universities XI 5 (0)
Teams managed
1993–1995 Real Madrid B
1995–1996 Valladolid
1996 Osasuna
1997–1999 Extremadura
2000–2001 Tenerife
2001–2004 Valencia
2004–2010 Liverpool
2010 Internazionale
2012–2013 Chelsea (interim)
2013– Napoli
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Rafael "Rafa" Benítez Maudes (born 16 April 1960) is a Spanish football manager, and former player. He is currently manager of Napoli.

Born in Madrid, Benítez played football throughout his youth and joined the Real Madrid academy. He mixed his university studies with his football career at lower division Spanish teams. He joined Real Madrid's coaching staff at the age of 26, going on to work as the under 19 and reserve team coach, and assistant manager for the senior team. Benítez moved away from Real Madrid, but management spells at Real Valladolid and Osasuna were short-lived and unsuccessful.

Benítez guided Segunda División side Extremadura back to the Primera División in his first season in 1997, but the team was relegated the following season. He left the club, taking a brief break from football before returning to coach Tenerife in 2000. Benítez was appointed coach of Valencia and he proved himself to be amongst the top Spanish managers by winning La Liga in the 2001–02 season—Don Balón and El País named him Manager of the Year. In 2004, another La Liga league title and a UEFA Cup victory were added. However, a disagreement between Benítez and the club director over team investment caused the Spaniard to switch to English Premier League club Liverpool.

Benítez was a high achiever in his first season as he guided Liverpool to victory in the UEFA Champions League in 2005, the highest honour in European club football. He also won the FA Cup in 2006 and reached the 2007 Champions League Final, but remained unable to win the Premier League, with Liverpool's best performance under Benítez a second place finish in 2008–09. He parted company with Liverpool in June 2010 and subsequently managed Internazionale, whom he guided to the Supercoppa Italiana and FIFA Club World Cup titles, but he was dismissed midway through the 2010–11 season. In November 2012 he was appointed interim manager of Chelsea for the remainder of the season, and won the 2013 Europa League title.

In May 2013, Benítez was appointed manager of Serie A side Napoli.

Early career

Benítez passed through the playing ranks, as a midfielder for both Real Madrid Aficionados in the Tercera División and Castilla CF in the Segunda División. He also enrolled as a student at INEF, the sports faculty at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and in 1982 he obtained a degree in physical education.

In 1979, Benítez was selected to play for the Spain Youth U-19s at the World Student Games in Mexico City and he scored a penalty in the opening game, a 10–0 win against Cuba. In the next game, a 0–0 draw against Canada, he was injured in a hard tackle. The injury saw him sidelined for a year which realistically ended his chances of becoming a major player. In 1981, Benítez joined Tercera División side Parla. Initially he joined Parla on loan, but eventually signed for them permanently and helped them gain promotion to Segunda División B. He also played a further three games for the Spain Universities XI. In 1985 he signed for Segunda División B club Linares and under Enrique Mateos he served as a player/coach. Further injury problems saw him miss almost the entire 1985–86 season and he subsequently retired as a player.[3]

Managerial career

Real Madrid youth coach

In 1986, at the age of twenty six, Benítez returned to Real Madrid and joined the club's coaching staff. At the start of the 1986–87 season, he was appointed coach of Castilla B. With this team he won two league titles in 1987 and 1989. He won a third league title with Real Madrid Youth B in 1990. Halfway through the 1990–91 season he succeeded José Antonio Camacho as the coach of the Real Madrid Under 19s. With this team he won the Spain Under 19s Cup in 1991 and 1993, beating Barcelona in both finals. In 1993 the team completed a double when they also won the national Under 19 league. While at Real, Benítez also gained his coaching certificate in 1989 and in the summer of 1990 he taught at a football camp at the University of California, Davis in California.

During the 1992–93 season Benítez also worked as an assistant coach to Mariano García Remón at Real Madrid B. After his success with the Under 19s, Benítez then succeeded García Remón at the start of the 1993–94 season. Real Madrid B were then playing in the Segunda División and on 4 September 1993 he made his debut as a Segunda División manager with a 3–1 over Hércules CF. In March 1994 he became assistant manager to Vicente del Bosque with the senior Real Madrid team before returning to coach Real Madrid B for the 1994–95 season.[3]

Early coaching

The first attempts by Benítez at senior management away from the Real Madrid fold were less than successful. He was appointed manager of Real Valladolid for the 1995–96 season but was sacked after only two wins in 23 games with the club bottom of the Primera División. During the 1996–97 season, Benítez took charge at Osasuna in the Segunda División but after only 9 games and one win he was sacked. He did, however, meet the fitness instructor Pako Ayestarán at the club, and went on to form a partnership with him at several clubs for the next decade. In 1997, he joined another Segunda División side, Extremadura and this time led them to promotion, finishing second in the table behind Deportivo Alavés, after winning 23 out of 42 games. Extremadura only survived one season in Primera División, however, and were relegated in 1999 after finishing seventeenth and losing a play-off to Villarreal.

Benítez subsequently quit CF Extremadura and took a year out studying in England and Italy. He also worked as a commentator/analyst for Eurosport, Marca, El Mundo and local Madrid TV. In 2000 he was appointed manager of CD Tenerife of the Segunda División and with a team that included Mista, Curro Torres and Luis García, he gained promotion to La Liga by finishing third in the league behind Sevilla and Real Betis.

Valencia

2001–04 Twice champions of Spain and UEFA Cup winners

In 2001 Benítez was appointed coach of Valencia, replacing Héctor Cúper. The club had previously approached Javier Irureta, Mané and Luis Aragonés and had been turned down by all three. However, the club director Javier Subirats recognised the potential of Benítez and campaigned for his appointment. Despite the loss of Gaizka Mendieta, he inherited from Cuper a team brimming with potential – with Santiago Cañizares, Roberto Ayala, Rubén Baraja, David Albelda, Vicente and Pablo Aimar providing the backbone to a formidable side that had reached back-to-back UEFA Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001, losing only on penalties in 2001 to Bayern Munich.

Valencia fans were soon won over by Benítez as he introduced a more attacking style of play. He also brought in both Mista from his former club and Francisco Rufete from Málaga, with Mista going on to become top goalscorer for Valencia with 19 goals in the 2003–04 season. In 2002, these tactics saw Benítez lead Valencia to their first La Liga title in thirty one years, winning it by a seven point margin over second placed Deportivo La Coruña.

However, the following season 2002–03 was a disappointing one as the club failed to follow up on their title success, they finished only fifth in La Liga, eighteen points behind champions Real Madrid. The season saw Benítez make his debut in the UEFA Champions League. Valencia CF reached the quarter-finals before losing to Internazionale.

The 2003–04 season was a different story; Valencia won La Liga with three games to go and beat Marseille 2–0 in the UEFA Cup final. Despite this success, Benítez fell out with Jesús García Pitarch, the club's director of football, over control of new signings and the club's failure to reinforce the squad with the players he wanted. He famously said "I was hoping for a sofa [a defender] and they've brought me a lamp [Fabián Canobbio]" in reference to the positions he wanted to be strengthened.[4] These differences of opinion saw Benítez resign as Valencia coach in June 2004.

Liverpool

2004–06 Early successes

Rafael Benítez managing Liverpool against Watford in 2005

One of Benítez's first tasks at Liverpool was to convince club captain Gerrard not to move to rivals Chelsea.[5] He was unable, however, to convince Michael Owen to extend his contract, and he was sold to Real Madrid. Benítez signed several players from La Liga, most notably Luis García and Xabi Alonso, both of whom drew immediate admiration from Kopites. Benítez also gave new life to existing Liverpool players, transforming Jamie Carragher from a utility player to one of Europe's top centre backs[6] alongside Sami Hyypiä.

During his first season, Benítez failed to improve Liverpool's form in the Premiership. Key players missed much of the season through injury and Liverpool failed to challenge Chelsea and Arsenal for the league title, finishing fifth. However, Benítez did reach his first English domestic cup final, losing the League Cup final against Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium 3–2 after extra time.

In the UEFA Champions League it was very different, despite a poor start. Liverpool began their campaign with an unimpressive 2–1 aggregate win over AK Grazer in the qualifying rounds and were minutes away from going out of the competition in the group stages before an 87th minute goal by Steven Gerrard defeated Olympiacos 3–1 and saw the club progress to the last 16 on head-to-head difference. After defeating Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Juventus, with the aid of some bold team selections by Benítez, Liverpool faced Chelsea in the semi-final. A controversial early goal from Luis García saw Liverpool win 1–0 on aggregate and reach the final against A.C. Milan.

In a classic final, Liverpool came from 3–0 down at half time to level the score at 3–3 in the space of just six minutes and eventually triumphed 3–2 on penalties, with the assistance of goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek. Benítez's calm methodical approach at half time was said to give the players the belief they could pull off an improbable comeback and win Liverpool an historic fifth European Cup.[7] In doing so, Benítez became only the third manager in history (after Bob Paisley and José Mourinho) to win the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League in successive seasons, and the second Liverpool manager (after Joe Fagan) ever to win the European Cup/UEFA Champions League in his first season in charge. Benítez's tactics were credited as a key factor in Liverpool reaching, and winning, the final, despite an unimpressive squad of players.[8]

It is notable that Dudek's heroics in the Champions league final were not enough for him to stay as first-choice keeper, as new-signing Reina replaced him in from the start of the 2005–2006 season. Benítez also quickly discarded unlikely heroes Vladimír Šmicer and Igor Bišćan, who played key roles in the European success but seemingly did not figure in Benítez's long-term plans. Benítez also quickly sold Josemi and Antonio Núñez, two of his first signings in English football, after they failed to establish themselves, with the likes of Peter Crouch, Mohamed Sissoko, Daniel Agger, as well as former Liverpool player (and fan favourite) Robbie Fowler being brought in to strengthen the side.

Benítez's signings helped the club's Premiership form improve considerably. Liverpool finished third in the league, missing out on second place by one point. Liverpool also won the FA Cup beating both Manchester United and Chelsea, as well as a thrilling 5–3 win against Luton Town in the third round, on the way to the final against West Ham Utd. History repeated itself in the final as they then went on to lift the trophy after a penalty shoot-out, following a dramatic 3–3 draw. Liverpool came from 2–0 down and were losing 3–2 in stoppage time when Steven Gerrard scored a dramatic late equalizer. This time Pepe Reina saved three penalties during the shoot-out to secure the silverware. In winning the FA Cup, Benítez became the only manager in the history of Liverpool Football Club to win major trophies in both of his first two seasons at the club.

2006–08 Confrontation with new owners

Following Benítez's great early success, the English media were predicting Liverpool would challenge Chelsea for the 2006–2007 Premier League title after Benítez addressed Liverpool's perceived weaknesses in the transfer window, a belief reaffirmed after his side won the Community Shield with 2–1 victory over Chelsea. The title challenge fizzled out early in the season with Liverpool's poor form away from Anfield leading to speculation Benítez's tenure at Liverpool was short-lived, with his agent quoted as saying Benítez would consider offers to manage in Italy.[9] Benítez swiftly issued a statement through the club's website re-affirming his desire to remain with Liverpool for the long term.[10] In January, Benítez's side lost twice in four days to Arsenal in both domestic cup competitions, the 6–3 defeat in the League Cup was Liverpool's heaviest home defeat since 1913. Despite the poor domestic performances, Liverpool fans remained supportive to Benítez.

Supporters and manager joined together to welcome new owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, with the hope the new owners would bring funding for new players and a new stadium. Gillett declared himself delighted with the manager of his new investment as Benítez overcame his domestic difficulties to lead Liverpool to another Champions League final. After Liverpool again defeated Chelsea in the semi-final, this time on penalties, Gillett stated "Rafa has been tremendous ... We knew of him but I don't think we realized how good he was, and not just as a coach. Not only was he a brilliant coach but he is a very sharp, savvy businessman. He knows what he wants and how to get it. The more we have seen of him the more impressed we have become."[11] Benítez did not reciprocate his owner's kind words, demanding his club's new owners had to back him in the transfer market in order for Liverpool to progress following his side's 2–1 loss to AC Milan in the final.[12] It was reported Benítez did not feel he had the complete support of the new owners, a thought that was compounded by Liverpool's initial lack of activity in the transfer window, although the club played these rumours down.[13]

Benítez's spending was, eventually, significant, breaking Liverpool's transfer record when signing Spanish striker Fernando Torres from Atlético Madrid as well as signing Ryan Babel, Yossi Benayoun, Lucas Leiva and Andriy Voronin. Among those Benítez sold was Craig Bellamy, who was notably phased out of the first team following an altercation with John Arne Riise in the buildup to Liverpool's remarkable victory over Barcelona in the Camp Nou en route to the Champions League final[14]

Liverpool made a good start to the 2007–2008 league season, topping the Premier League table for the first time under Benítez after a comprehensive 6–0 win over Derby County. Despite this, poor results in the Champions League and a disagreement over future transfers lead to a public falling-out with the club's owners, played out in the media at the end of November. It was suggested that Benítez's position was now under serious threat. The resulting coverage resulted in a show of support by fans in support of Benítez which culminated in a fans' march in support of Benítez ahead of the critical Champions League home tie with Porto, which they won 4–1.[15] It later emerged Jürgen Klinsmann was offered Benítez's job, before accepting the post of Bayern Munich manager. Such a revelation damaged Benítez's relations with the Americans, with constant rumours linking the Spaniard to Real Madrid.[16] However, Benítez insisted his future was at Liverpool and signalled his long-term intentions by appointing Sammy Lee as his new assistant[17] to replace his long-time right-hand man, Pako Ayestarán, who quit after a reported disagreement, which Benítez admitted "hurt" him and arguably Liverpool's titles hopes.[18]

Benítez was unable to win any trophies, Liverpool's domestic campaign faltering in the winter months – including a shock FA Cup exit at home to Barnsley – and his side this time lost to Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals. Despite the lack of silverware, the main talking points were off the pitch, with Benítez in the middle of a power struggle between the Liverpool board[19]

2008–09 League runner-up

In a sign of the increasingly strained relationship between the Liverpool manager and his board, Benítez was reportedly close to quitting Liverpool in the summer of 2008 over the Liverpool board's failure to back him in his bid to purchase Gareth Barry from Aston Villa.[20] Benítez had reportedly intended to sell Xabi Alonso to fund the purchase of Barry, but Liverpool CEO Rick Parry was reported to have prioritised signing Robbie Keane over Barry, causing tension when Barry did not arrive.[21] Striker Keane was later re-sold back to Tottenham in the January transfer window, with some analysts claiming he was a "pawn in a power struggle" between Benítez and the club's owners.[22] This off-field turmoil was in contrast to Liverpool's impressive start to the 2008–2009 season in the Premier League, including Benítez' first ever league win against Manchester United at Anfield on 13 September and ending Chelsea's 86 match unbeaten run in the league at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool finished the calendar year top of the Premier League for the first time since 1996.

However, Liverpool's poor results in the New Year led to a sharper focus on Benítez, who had missed Liverpool's draw at Arsenal in December due to an operation to remove kidney stones. An infamous attack on Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson in the media led some pundits and opposition supporters to suggest Benítez was "cracking up" under the pressure of a title bid. Benítez still appeared to be at odds with Liverpool's owners, publicly turning down a contract extension and demanding more control over transfers. At one point rumours of Benítez quitting or being sacked became so great that bookmakers had to suspend betting on the subject.[23]

Nevertheless, on 18 March 2009, shortly after registering a 4–0 victory over Real Madrid and 4–1 victory over Manchester United, Benítez signed a new five-year deal with the club. Benítez said "My heart is with Liverpool, so I'm delighted to sign this new deal, I love the club, the fans and the city and with a club and supporters like this, I could never say no to staying.".[24] With 10 wins in their last 11 games, Liverpool finished the season on a high, finishing second in the league for the first time under Benítez, four points off champions Manchester United, with Liverpool playing an attractive brand of attacking football at odds with the side that struggled through the Winter months.[25]

2009–10 Decline and dismissal

Rafael Benítez during Liverpool's Asia Tour in 2009.

Fans were hopeful with Benítez's long-term future sorted Liverpool could push on to the next level in the 2009–2010 season and win their first League title in 20 years. Yet the season that followed resulted in Liverpool finishing in 7th position and Benítez's contract being terminated by mutual consent.

Prior to Benítez's final season, Xabi Alonso, one of the key members of Benítez's squad, was sold to Real Madrid following a lengthy pursuit in a deal reportedly worth £30 million.[26] Alonso admitted that Benítez's attempts to sell him the previous summer were a deciding factor in his move.[27] Alonso was immediately replaced in the squad by £17m Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani, signed from Roma, who was recovering from a long-term injury. Also added was England defender Glen Johnson for £17.5m. A "sell to buy" policy enforced by the ownership due to increasing debt, combined with Alonso's departure, prompted discontent amongst considerable sections of the club's fanbase who believed Benítez was not being backed sufficiently in the transfer market.[28] Benítez's decision to sell Alonso and replace him in the side with Brazilian Lucas, with Aquilani having arrived at the club injured, was called into question as Liverpool's title campaign ended before it began with two defeats in the first three games[29] Benítez defended his decisions, arguing Liverpool's slow start was due to key players such as Gerrard being below par, a move that alienated Benítez from key members of his squad.[30]

Liverpool's worst run in 22 years[31] combined with an exit from the Champions League at the group stages led to the first major vocal criticism of Benítez by Liverpool fans.[32]

It was suggested that this Liverpool team was missing Benítez's characteristic defensive rigidness[33] despite the fact that only Manchester United and Chelsea conceded fewer goals than Liverpool, and lacked the necessary depth to cope with injuries to key players such as Gerrard and Torres while Benítez's decision making was called into question.[34] The club subsequently exited the Europa League at the hands of former Manchester United player Diego Forlán and his Atlético Madrid side, eliminating any hope of the consolation of a trophy.

Benítez left the club "by mutual consent" on 3 June 2010[35] with a reported £6m pay off;[36] the media speculated that this was because the team had finished seventh in the Premier League missing out on the Champions League, and poor results such as the defeat by Wigan Athletic. Shortly after his departure from Anfield, Benítez made a £96,000 donation to the Hillsborough Family Support Group.[37]

Internazionale

On 10 June 2010, and only a few days after leaving Liverpool, Rafael Benítez agreed a deal to become the new head coach of Serie A and UEFA Champions League champions Internazionale, a post that was left vacant by the departure of José Mourinho, who left to manage Real Madrid.[38] On 15 June 2010, Benítez was presented to the Italian media for the first time after signing a two-year deal.[39] On 21 August 2010, Benítez won his first trophy as manager, the Italian Super Cup, after they defeated AS Roma 3–1.[40] On 27 August 2010 in Monaco, Inter lost to Atlético Madrid in the 2010 UEFA Super Cup.[41] Benítez's first Serie A game in charge was on 31 August 2010 in a 0–0 draw away to Bologna in the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara.[42] His first league win as manager came on 11 September 2010, a 2–1 win against Udinese at the San Siro.[43] By December 2010, Inter had slumped to 6th in Serie A, 13 points adrift of the top (although Inter played two games less), having suffered consecutive defeats against arch rivals Milan (which ended a 46 match unbeaten home record),[44] Chievo and Lazio, as well as losing at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League, leading to speculation that Benítez's position was under threat.[45] Despite criticism, Benítez guided Inter to win the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2010.[46] Buoyed by the Club World Cup victory, he told the European champions to back him with new signings or consider whether they wanted to keep him as coach, despite the side having won the treble only a few months earlier. Benítez's demands were dismissed out of hand by the Inter ownership, with Massimo Moratti refusing to comment Benítez's continued employment by the club.[47][48] On 23 December, Benítez was sacked by Internazionale.[49]

Chelsea

Rafael Benítez managing Chelsea against FC Nordsjælland in 2012.

On 21 November 2012, following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea appointed Benítez as interim first-team manager until the end of the 2012–13 season.[50][51][52][53] He was unveiled as the new Chelsea manager at a press conference on 22 November 2012.[54][55][56] He appointed Boudewijn Zenden as his new assistant manager at Chelsea on the same day.[57]

The appointment was unpopular with many Chelsea fans due to Benítez' association with Liverpool and comments he had previously made about the club,[58] and he received a "fiercely hostile reception" as he was introduced at his first home game, a 0–0 draw with Manchester City on 25 November 2012.[59][60] This was followed by a 0–0 draw at home to Fulham and a 3–1 loss to West Ham United.[61][62] On 5 December 2012, Benítez recorded his first win as Chelsea manager, a 6–1 victory at home to Nordsjælland in the Champions League. Despite this win, Chelsea failed to progress beyond the group stage of the competition.[63] This was followed by a 3–1 away victory to Sunderland, with Benítez presiding over his first league win as manager.[64]

At the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2012 Chelsea defeated Monterrey 3–1 to reach the final,[65] where they were beaten 1–0 by Brazilian side Corinthians.[66] Chelsea progressed to the League Cup semi-finals with a 5–1 win over Leeds United at Elland Road and then recorded an 8–0 win over Aston Villa, equalling their record top-flight victory.[67] They subsequently lost 1–0 at home to 20th-placed Queens Park Rangers[68] in the Premier League and were knocked out of the League Cup semi-finals by underdogs Swansea City 2–0 on aggregate.[69]

On 27 February 2013, following a 2–0 win at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fifth-round, Benítez heavily criticised the Chelsea board for giving him the title of "interim manager" and the Chelsea fans for their protests against him. He also confirmed that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season.[70] He described his relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich as "excellent" and expressed his desire to remain as Chelsea manager until the end of the season.[71] Results continued to be mixed, and at one point Chelsea found themselves 16 points behind league leaders Manchester United, having been four behind when Benitez was appointed.[72] Chelsea reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, losing 2–1 to Manchester City at Wembley, and also progressed to the final of the UEFA Europa League. In the penultimate league game of the season, Chelsea won 2–1 away to Aston Villa, a game in which Frank Lampard set the all-time scoring record at Chelsea. The win secured a top-four Premiership finish and with it a place in the following season's UEFA Champions League.[73]

In the Europa League Final against Benfica on 15 May, Chelsea won 2–1.[74] This made Benitez only the second manager after Giovanni Trapattoni to have won the UEFA Cup/Europa League with two different teams, and Chelsea became the fourth club to have won all three of UEFA's major club competitions.[75] Defender David Luiz credited Benítez with making critical changes at half time, saying, "He changed some of our positions in the second half. That's why we played better and won the title. He spoke a lot to us to change the intensity." On the winning goal scored by Branislav Ivanović, Juan Mata said, "Rafa told us we had to aim to the far post, because it was Artur's weakest place. I just tried to put the ball there and Ivanovic did the rest."[76]

On 19 May, in his final competitive game as Chelsea manager, Benítez managed the team to a 2–1 home win over Everton, ensuring a third place finish in the Premier League and a spot in the Champions League group stage.[77]

Napoli

On 27 May 2013, it was announced that Benítez had signed for Napoli, whose manager Walter Mazzarri had resigned.[78] Benítez agreed a two year contract after meeting club president Aurelio De Laurentiis in London.[79][80]

In his first season in charge, Benítez guided the club to victory in the Coppa Italia, defeating Fiorentina 3–1 in the final,[81] and into the last 16 of the Europa League, exiting after a 3–2 aggregate defeat to Porto.[82]

Relations with other managers

With West Ham United manager Gianfranco Zola at Boleyn Ground 9 May 2009.
With Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce at the City of Manchester Stadium, 14 February 2007.

Benítez has had confrontations with both José Mourinho (Chelsea manager, 2004–2007) and Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United manager, 1986–2013) during his time in English football. Benítez made a number of suggestions during Mourinho's tenure as manager that Roman Abramovich's money had bought Chelsea's success, and the pair refused to shake hands after some matches (although Mourinho declared the feud to be over after a league game in 2006). When Mourinho exited Chelsea in 2007, Benítez said "You know my relationship with him, it is better that I do not say anything"; declining to comment as Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger had.[83][84] On 9 January 2009, he delivered a controversial appraisal of certain aspects of Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure, accusing Ferguson and Manchester United of being nervous because Liverpool were at the top of the league,[85] then accused the Manchester United manager of not being punished for breaking FA rules, suggesting he was "the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things",[85] referring to Ferguson not being punished following an FA charge for comments he made about officials Martin Atkinson and Keith Hackett, following an FA Cup tie with Portsmouth.[86] In his 2013 autobiography, Ferguson said that "Benitez bought badly and made the feud personal".[87]

Benítez has also had confrontations with Sam Allardyce when he was manager of Newcastle United and more recently Blackburn Rovers. When Allardyce was manager of Newcastle he suggested Benítez would have been sacked had Liverpool's European form been as bad as their league form.[88] In a match in April 2009 when Allardyce was manager of Blackburn he accused Benítez of arrogance over a gesture he made when Fernando Torres scored Liverpool's second goal. Allardyce suggested that Benítez had signalled the game was over despite Liverpool only having a two goal lead. This view was later supported by Sir Alex Ferguson. Benítez however later explained this gesture. He said he had previously told Xabi Alonso to take a short free-kick. This instruction was ignored, which resulted in a goal. Benítez said that he had jokingly signalled to Alonso to ignore his instructions and not that he thought the game was effectively over.[89]

Management style

Benítez has developed a reputation in English football as a hard man to please, with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admitting he longed for a "well done" from Benítez after good performances.[90] Benítez's ruthlessness can also be seen in the way he disposed of all but Gerrard and Jamie Carragher from his Champions League winning squad within four seasons, with penalty shoot-out hero Jerzy Dudek made back-up goalkeeper the very season after the European triumph.[91]

Benítez's preferred formation is a 4–2–3–1 which he adopted during his time at Valencia and Liverpool. He has often been praised[by whom?] for his tactical acumen[92][93] particularly in European ties, setting his team up to exploit opposition weaknesses.[94] His calm demeanour and tactical changes at half time of the 2005 European cup final were said to give players belief they could battle back from 3–0 down, although he had to correct his plans when it was pointed out to him his new formation would require 12 players on the pitch.[95] Benítez often plays key players in unorthodox positions to suit a formation – notably converting both Steven Gerrard (in the 2005-06 season) and Dirk Kuyt into right-wingers. As a right winger/midfielder, Steven Gerrard had the most productive seasons winning wise, claiming a Champions League title, and an FA Cup.

Benítez is a firm believer in squad rotation and zonal marking . Despite heavy criticism from the English press[96] Benítez persisted with the reward of a Champions League and FA Cup triumph in his first two seasons. Benítez argued he needed to rotate his small squad to ensure key players were fit for the latter stages of these knockout competitions.[97]

The tactic of zonal marking is often condemned by pundits when Liverpool concede from set-pieces[98][99] in spite of the fact that Benítez's squads are usually renowned for their defensive nature and low number of goals scored against them. Benítez stands by his tactic, pointing out that teams who man-mark concede just as many, if not more, goals from set pieces.[100]

Benítez has been criticised by some sections of the Liverpool support for failing to develop any local players, as none made the progression from the academy to the first team under his management while promising youngsters such as Stephen Warnock, Danny Guthrie and Adam Hammill were sold to other clubs. Benítez instigated a host of backroom changes at the end of the 2008–09 season to improve the club's youth development, including the appointment of club legend Kenny Dalglish in a senior role at the academy.[101] Instead Benítez brought in some of the top Spanish talent, including Barcelona star and U-19 Goldenboot winner Dani Pacheco, FC Cadiz 15-year-old super talent Suso, as well as another 15-year-old English player Raheem Sterling and 16-year-old midfielder Jonjo Shelvey from Charlton Athletic. Both Sterling and Shelvey went on to become first-team players after Benítez's departure, along with Martin Kelly, who was given his debut by Benítez as an 18-year-old in 2008.

Personal life

Benítez's father, Francisco, worked as a hotelier. His mother is Rosario Maudes. Rosario was a big football fan and supported Real Madrid, while his father supported Atlético Madrid. Francisco died in December 2005 while Benítez was in Japan for the FIFA Club World Championship. Rafael Benítez married Maria de Montserrat in 1998. They have two daughters, Claudia, who was born in Madrid in 1999, and Ágata who was born in Valencia in 2002. He is fluent in Spanish, English and Italian.[102]

Managerial statistics

As of 6 May 2014.
Team Nat From To Competition Record
G W D L Win % GF GA GD
Real Madrid B Spain 1993 1995 65 26 18 21 40.00
Valladolid Spain 1995 1996 29 5 10 14 17.24
Osasuna Spain 1996 1996 11 3 4 4 27.27
Extremadura Spain 1 July 1997 30 June 1999 92 36 26 30 39.13
Tenerife Spain 19 July 2000 30 June 2001 Segunda División 42 21 11 10 50.00 58 32 +26
Copa del Rey 4 2 0 2 50.00 5 7 –2
Total 46 23 11 12 50.00 63 39 +24
Valencia Spain 1 July 2001 14 June 2004 La Liga 114 61 29 24 53.51 178 89 +89
Copa del Rey 9 4 3 2 44.44 14 11 +3
Europe 37 23 9 5 62.16 64 24 +40
Other1 2 0 0 2 00.00 0 4 –4
Total 162 88 41 33 54.32 256 128 +128
Liverpool England 16 June 2004 3 June 2010 Premier League 228 126 55 47 55.26 371 183 +188
FA Cup 17 9 3 5 52.94 38 22 +16
Football League Cup 17 10 1 6 58.82 31 27 +4
Europe 85 49 16 20 57.65 140 68 +72
Other2 4 3 2 0 1 66.67 5 2 +3
Total 350 196 75 79 56.00 585 302 +283
Internazionale Italy 10 June 2010 23 December 2010 Serie A 15 6 5 4 40.00 20 14 +6
Europe 7 3 1 3 42.86 12 13 –1
Other3 4 3 3 0 0 100.000 9 1 +8
Total 25 12 6 7 48.00 41 28 +13
Chelsea England 21 November 2012 27 May 2013 Premier League 26 15 6 5 57.69 51 26 +25
FA Cup 7 4 2 1 57.14 17 7 +10
Football League Cup 3 1 1 1 33.33 5 2 +3
Europe 10 7 1 2 70.00 23 11 +12
Other4 2 1 0 1 50.00 3 2 +1
Total 48 28 10 10 58.33 99 48 +51
Napoli Italy 27 May 2013 Present Serie A 36 21 9 6 58.33 67 36 +31
Coppa Italia 5 4 0 1 80.00 12 5 +7
Europe 10 5 2 3 50.00 15 13 +2
Total 51 30 11 10 58.82 94 54 +40
Career totals League 634 305 167 162 48.11 747 381 +366
Domestic Cup 60 32 14 14 53.33 86 52 +34
League Cup 20 11 2 7 55.00 36 29 +7
Europe 149 87 29 33 58.39 254 129 +125
Other1234 10 6 0 4 60.00 17 9 +8
Total 879 447 212 220 50.85 1140 600 +540

Honours

Player

Parla

Manager

Real Madrid U-19s
Extremadura
Tenerife
Valencia
Liverpool
Internazionale
Chelsea
Napoli

Individual awards

See also

References

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External links

Biographies

Statistics

Valencia CF

Awards

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
José Mourinho
UEFA Cup Winning Coach
2003–04
Succeeded by
Valery Gazzaev
UEFA Champions League Winning Coach
2004–05
Succeeded by
Frank Rijkaard
Preceded by
Diego Simeone
UEFA Europa League Winning Coach
2012–13
Succeeded by
Unai Emery