Benitez must stop burning his bridges

As a studious, analytical man out of work for almost two years, one thing Rafa Benitez should have worked out by now is that it is not a wise move for a coach in any country to take on the owners of the football club.

Benitez has done that with his past three employers and discovered that even with supporters on his side – which they were in at least two out of three cases – there will only be one winner; and at Chelsea of all clubs, it will never be the man in the tracksuit.

At Valencia, then Liverpool and Internazionale, the source of conflict was always an impatient desire for new players. The old adage has it that managers always want two more.

In Benitez's case, the driving force can be seen as an extension of a relentless – and therefore unobtainable – bid for perfection. With his existing players, he will walk on to the pitch at the final whistle, even after an emphatic victory, and pick them up on a pass or a run that could have been better. Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, while admirers, are both on record as saying they would have appreciated a pat on the back once in a while.

Owners must occasionally have thought the same thing. At Valencia, although only fourth choice as coach – he had come from low-profile managerial jobs at Extremadura and Tenerife – he won a title in his first season but almost immediately became dissatisfied because of the following summer's lack of investment. A year later came his famous comment about a player the board had bought: "I was hoping for a sofa and they bought a lamp." He said of the club's chief executive, Manuel Llorente: "He doesn't value work, only results."

Winning a second title against the odds that season, Benitez decided to leave, and an often underrated stubbornness kicked in when Llorente and others offered all the control and power he had wanted but were turned down.

Valencia's loss was Liverpool's gain; and could, those close to him claim, have been that of Tottenham, who appointed Jacques Santini instead. Despite the extraordinary Champions' League success of 2005, Anfield would eventually become a ring of fire, in which dealing with Tom Hicks and George Gillett was as comfortable as walking on hot coals.

The morning after a second Champions' League final, lost to Milan, he deliberately fanned the flames by criticising the board for not moving fast enough when he identified transfer targets. What was not known at the time was that he had not slept, having walked the Athens streets with his chief scout for four hours in the rain, but even so it was the sort of outburst it would be unwise to try at Stamford Bridge if the January transfer window does not go to his liking.

Two years ago he attempted a similar tactic at Inter. On 19 December the headlines read: "Benitez issues quit threat to Inter". On 23 December it was: "Inter sack Benitez".

At Chelsea there will be a bridge between owner and manager in the form of Michael Emenalo, briefly a Notts County and Nigeria defender, who is his technical director. Benitez says he has worked for 20 years with a technical director and six years (at Liverpool) without one, implying he can cope with both systems. "It doesn't matter the structure of the club, the main thing is the relationship," he said. "We talk every day, it's not a problem."

It's good for a manager to talk, but Emenalo should advise him to count to 11 first.

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits