Benitez joins the Italian Job…less
December 21, 2010 5 Comments
After just 6 months into his managerial role Rafael Benitez has been sacked by his club Inter Milan. This comes after days of speculation from the media regarding Benitez’s position. On Monday morning many of the tabloid papers in Italy printed headlines saying that the Spaniard had been sacked, and it was only when Benitez spoke with a Spanish radio station saying, “I have not been fired” that the situation was cleared up, well sort of. It looks like this was only delaying the inevitable, with his departure expected to be officially announced within the next 48 hours.
It seems very strange to me that any manager should have to deny that his Club has sacked him. But that is exactly the circumstances Rafael Benitez found himself in on Monday concerning his position at Inter Milan. When Inter President Massimo Morrati was asked about Benitez’s future he refused to comment, which can’t have filled the manager with much confidence. I thought that it would have been fairly simple for Morrati to say he has, or he hasn’t fired Benitez. It is this ambiguous reaction from the President of Inter that clearly showed there was trouble at’ mill.
Benitez’s tenure at Inter had been a turbulent affair, with not much going his way. To start with, he had to fill the gap vacated by none other than Jose Mourinho, after he left for Real Madrid. This would not only be hard for Benitez to follow on the pitch, but also off it. Mourinho is instantly a fan favorite wherever he goes; simply because of the success he brings the clubs he manages, so many fans at Inter were dubious that Benitez could emulate this success. Just look at the skepticism that has followed the appointment of Chelsea managers post Mourinho.
Secondly the injury list did little to ease Benitez into his new job. Diego Milito, Wesley Sneijder, Maicon, Walter Samuel, Julio Cesar and Samuel Eto’o were some, among many, of the injury problems that he had to deal with. Not only that, but he was also blamed for them by some figures connected with Inter. Former fitness coach at Milan Rui Faria has blamed Benitez’s training methods for the injuries, “The players, medical staff and Italian football in general are the same as last year. Only one thing has changed…” This is a direct attack on a manager who, I’m sure can be hard on players, but would never push players to the point of injuring themselves. It seems that an intense previous seasons football and a World Cup over the summer months were not even taken into account when discussing the extensive injury list.
Another factor that, combined with the injuries, contributed towards Inter’s poor start to the season was the lack of funds made available for Benitez to buy players. Last year Mourinho spent €80 on transfers, Benitez on the other hand spent €0 while at the club. Most managers when entering a new club, especially during the transfer window, seem to want to make at least one landmark signing to stamp their mark on the squad, and make it their own. Mourinho certainly did this at Real Madrid. Surely Inter were in a healthy financial position having won the Serie A and the Champions League last year, I don’t see why funds were not used to strengthen the squad. That is one of the reasons why a great football club will stay successful, continual development and investment, generated by their accomplishments.
Not progressing the squad meant that Benitez’s Inter were taken over by other clubs in Serie A who have improved this season. This includes bitter rivals AC Milan who now top the group, also Napoli, Lazio and Juventus have all had strong starts to the season. Inter are now placed 7th in the league, after only six wins in fifteen matches, leaving them a significant thirteen points a drift of 1st place. The only saving grace has been winning the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, but with the trophy having little prestige in Europe, It helped little with the demise of Benitez’s position.
I was not the biggest fan of Benitez when he was in England, but there was no doubt that while he had the support of the club and the fans at Liverpool, he was successful. This seems to be the complete opposite of what has happened at Inter Milan. There wasn’t any confidence in him from the club, especially from the President Moratti. It has to be said though that Benitez did not help his precarious position, the comments he made after the Club World Cup final demanding funds for the demanding funds for the January transfer window, provided Moratti with more ammo to use against him. I feel these comments, although strong, were just, and the reaction to them sum up how he was treated in his reign as Inter Milan manager.
What could be next for Rafa then? According to some sources in is pay-off from Inter there will be a clause forbidding him from managing another club in the next six months. So after his holiday could a return to England be on the cards. Liverpool may be looking for a manager soon!