An Open Letter: Please Keep Rafa!
I must admit that the past few weeks, especially when Liverpool were stumbling in the Champions League, were deeply worrying for me. Cast aside the obvious pleasure a United fan can draw from Liverpool's defeats and look at the bigger picture.
It was seriously mooted that Rafa Benitez's tenure at Anfield could come to an abrupt end. And I must admit it shocked me. Our own brand of Americans turned out to be unpleasant in many sense but overall possibly better than we ever excepted. But Liverpool's Yanks might have unleashed something terrible, something that sends a shudder through even the most hardened United fan. It was conceivable that they would fire the manager who just keeps on losing against United.
It was immense relief to hear the Spanish waiter claiming the misunderstanding between the owners and himself had been cleared and that they still had the chance to win the title. Hearing this, I was overcome with a mingled sense of relief and gratitude. Relief that Benitez is staying and gratitude to the Americans for keeping faith with him.
What does their decision mean for us, amused spectators of the events at the Mersey? It is possible that nothing at all. For all my worries about Benitez leaving, I must admit that I can't name a single manager on Earth who could deliver the league title for Liverpool. Perhaps Mourinho is the exception but he won't come, will he? But still: with Benitez staying, we can rest assured that they have a manager who has proven he can't win the league here.
Some years ago, I've read something about an ingenious theory of the 'Houllier roundabout'. The basic aspect of it was that during the Frenchman's reign it was assumed every summer that only one corner needs to be turned now, only one puzzle is missing. Yet when he turned a corner, he found another, much steeper and haunting one behind... Benitez's reign increasingly resembles it - Houllier delivered no Champions League but won the UEFA Cup and finished second in the Premiership - with the obvious exception which is the following:
The Frenchman's Liverpool actually managed to beat Manchester United on occasions. Benitez is clearly unable to fathom a plan that would bring three points against us in the league. His record against Sir Alex is appalling from a Liverpool view and delightful from my own: seven league games, six United wins and one draw. They weren't even able to score a single goal against us in the league: their only goal (in the our 2-1 win at Old Trafford in 2004) came courtesy of John O'Shea who turned a cross into his own net.
It is most convenient that despite all this, Liverpool fans adore him. It could not be better. I think every sensible United fan must pray for Rafa to stay, to hang around turning more and more corners, jabbering away about how they contolled the games and created chances but still lost... It is the best that could happen to us, believe me.