Rafa Benítez Blog
Unfortunately, this title has been applicable for the past few months and it seems that it could be this way for a lot longer.
In a few days, we'll confine ourselves to the hotel/training ground complex to play the second phase of the Chinese league in its new format. Yesterday I had a meal and work meeting with the president of the Club, on Monday we have a couple of meetings to structure the football basics for the season facing us next year and at the same time, we have to analyse the changes that we should make in the First Team for next season. Whilst valuing the investment in the new medical department for all our young footballers, we are also happy to welcome Jailson, our new foreign player who's just finished his quarantine and arrived to help us in the second phase of the current league. That word, quarantine, has become the key to making decisions, we could not think of more signings because the quarantine time, and its consequences on the physical condition of the players, would make it impossible for them to arrive in time to make a difference in this phase.
We cannot let our players go out to play international games, as the risk of being infected along the way as well as the quarantine itself, wouldn't leave them properly able to help our team in the next matches. Everything is more complicated and that's why we are seeing such strange results in all countries.
Our team's young, they're playing well, training well, 'growing', improving, but they need experience to handle certain competition situations. To achieve this, they need time and real practice.
Speaking of real situations, when I watch Premier League matches, it still seems strange. Liverpool and Man U conceded 13 goals in one day: this isn't normal. Bayern Munich, a team who was capable of scoring 8 goals against Barcelona, lost 4-0 against Hoffenhein. It doesn't have a logical explanation. Teams letting go their best veteran players 'for nothing' due to high salaries and in order to meet the rest of the squad's salary isn't usual. Plus, the number of players infected by the coronavirus is growing. It seems normal and that's a difficult and worrying thing.
In Italy, Genoa could not play one of their matches, and Napoli didn't travel to Turin to play Juventus due to the risk of potentially having players who were COVID positive. Now other teams are protesting because they've played with less players to pick from for the same reason, and those responsible for professional football will have to come to an agreement along with health officials at a national level on how to approach this problem of priorities.
Common sense tells us that investing in grassroots football and improving the working conditions of your team would be positive for the future, but it's interesting to see how teams that have proposed cutting their players' and their employees' salaries, still keep signing and spending money.
Right now, life in general and of course, professional football, is conditioned by the coronavirus. In Spain, Italy, Germany and England, some players and managers tell me that they don't know how things will evolve: infections are increasing daily, but nobody wants to stop due to the disastrous economic consequences for the future. The only thing that I can think from a distance is how important it is to follow the protocols strictly, as is done here in China. It'd be a way to buy time until an effective treatment or vaccine against the coronavirus is found.
When I write these lines, it's early morning in China, and the time difference allows me to follow the European leagues "live" as well as giving me the chance to chat with family and friends. I just responded to a message from a former player of mine in the UK, and spoke with a coach in Spain who told me about his problems when it comes to managing training sessions as he did previously due to all the current protocols. As I said, everything is different now: training, competition, life in general. We've all likely had losses close to us in this period, and this is the time to show our solidarity and integrity.
We have to adapt, make the most of what we have at our disposal and strive every day to be better, both on the field and in life.
Thank you and stay safe.
Thank you. Stay safe. Rafa