Rafa Benítez Blog RSS Rafa Benítez Blog

Nov 2011
14:14 Comments (8)
By the skin of their teeth

General Articles

Juanma Morán

Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney. With nobody at the controls, how could we stay at the top. Let’s have a look because it’s easier said than done. These players all played together in the Manchester United attack for a while. I wondered then and I am still wondering. Can you compete against such a talented and attacking squad? Obviously you can’t. However, in the 2008-9 season, Liverpool FC gave us the happy notion that it could be done. And I must say they didn’t have very convincing reasons to believe they could do it. Granted Fernando Torres was the striker in this Red’s attempt, but this was hardly a strong argument when measured against the overwhelming brutal effort required to overhaul those players I mentioned at the start. So what is even more remarkable for the powers that be is the way that Liverpool team achieved what they did in that memorable season.

It started like something anecdotal, testimonial, if you ask me. In fact, it was the afternoon that we beat Chelsea on their home patch, Stamford Bridge, to pull away at the top even though it was only by a small margin. The truth is it was an illusion, and it was only recognised later, as no-one saw it at the time, with all eyes on the final day of the season trying to win the league against an Atlantic size gulf between the teams. But the weeks were passing and the situation remained more or less unchanged. So much so that we started to believe in the unbelievable. Then Spring arrived. And with it we lost the top spot. Logically, everything was in favour of Sir Alex Ferguson’s boys, if the truth be known. So the visit to Old Trafford only few days later was especially important. There was hope, and above all desire, to show that occasionally, and only occasionally, hard work can triumph over big budgets. After a poor start in which we conceded a goal, Benitez’s men regrouped and finished up wiping the floor with the home team by winning 1-4.

In the end, we didn’t win the league. In fact, they won it with a game to go. That doesn’t matter too much. It was the year when we finished second, when we lost only twice in 9 months, when we got a record number of points beating the record set only a couple of years earlier. And it was the season in which an unequal fight almost finished with an unexpected outcome. Or what amounts to the same thing. The year that Rafa once again did what he knows best: taking a team from scratch to make it a strong rival to the supremacy of a club that has in its ranks the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney. As we said at the start, it’s easier said than done.

30/11/11 at 18:05:34 #1
Sujan Van
Hello Rafa

You could not win EPL title with Liverpool but that doesnt mean your time at Liverpool was unsuccessful. With no financial backing you still made us believe that we can fight for the trophies. Liverpool was a force in Europe. The 4-0 victory over Real Madrid was memorable. We still want you back in Liverpool.
Hopefully at some point of time in future it will happen.You belong to Liverpool. We Love you..
01/12/11 at 00:49:41 #2
I think the 08-09 season was a victory for Rafa against all the odds even to come second as surely the odds were stacked in favour of Man Utd,it was in effect David versus Goliath.Man Utd had Ronaldo,Tevez,Berbetov,Rooney,Scholes ,Giggs and the best defence on paper in Ferdinand Vidic Evra and G.Neville.Rafa had Torres as his only true striker who he improved,so if anything went wrong with Torres he was left with a choice of move Kuyt from the right or play Babel or play £1.5m Ngog.yet this season LFC were top scorers scoring 9 goals more than Man Utd..


Hello, thank you for your comments about the season and the job done. It was really difficult as you say. In terms of the other comments, if you don't mind (just let me know), I have to keep them for me. Thanks.
02/12/11 at 13:17:24 #3
It was a wonderful season. That run which included beating Real (twice), Villa and United was beautiful to watch. Great football without any shackles. I am convinced that had the owners invested that Summer then the following year would have brought a title. Suppose we will never know.

Rafa, keep believing. One day you will return to us and lead us to a title.
04/12/11 at 18:31:52 #4
Michael Perry
it is a pity we didn't get to see this team evolve with aquilani and other new aquisitions. i wonder were rafa would have prioritised his spending if he had backing. would torres have stayed, what positions were to be stenghtened, presuming the formation didn't change. Would insua have stayed?

a good article.
05/12/11 at 07:55:07 #5
Keith Nickisson
One of the best coaches in world football. It is easy when you have resources behind you. You did without the resources. turning all the players into better players Torres, Mascherano, Gerrard, Lucas to name a few. you will always be for me one of Liverpool's all time great managers. YNWA (PS not many managers can claim tohave got under Fergie's skin. Says it all)
27/12/11 at 06:37:59 #6
budi suharto
rafa please come back to liverpool! we need you!!


Hello, thank you but for the benefit of the team it is better to be patient, I hope things will change for the better. Happy Christmas.
07/01/12 at 21:56:21 #7
Neil Ruparelia
Rafa, you were the best coach we had since King Kenny, I have alot of books about your football philosophy, followed how your Valencia team played, how you brought in Pepe Segura and Rodolfo Borrell at the academy and how you had to fight to get a decent budget to buy appropriate players and how we lost out on players like Vidic, Dani Alves, Jovetic for a couple of extra million pounds we could not pay, and as a result we had to buy second or third choice players.

I still hope you come back one day and enjoy the rewards I think you deserve at Liverpool.

I am hopeful we will see the efforts of the restructuring done at the academy when you got your 5 yr contract in the future, with a lot more players breaking through for the first team and playing the football that us liverpool fans are accustomed to and hopefully get the success we deserve.

Wish you alot of luck to you and your family!


Hello Neil, thanks a lot. All the best for you and your family too.

25/01/12 at 15:28:05 #8
Hi Rafa,

The article mentioned Torres, but he only started 16 games with Gerrard in 2008/09 didn't he? It was a massive team effort, but we know a lot of it is down to your meticulous preparation. Just to illustrate how massive it is to me, 86 points would have won us a title in most years of the premier league, but that year saw too many decisions go Man U's way (Spurs and Stoke and even to a small extent Villa come to mind) while Gerrard's goal in the fourth minute against Stoke at home shouldn't have been ruled offside. With such fine margins, could having one player like Suarez have swung the title in our direction?

Would a Suarez-Torres combination work out? I had a friend inform me that you targeted Suarez in Jan 2010 to partner Torres but had to recruit Maxi instead due to constraints. Is this even true? Too bad we never got to see them in action together!

Anyway, my comment is off topic already. That season is one of many happy memories you gave me. Cheers!