Rafa Benitez: The Biggest 'If' of All

10 May 2010

Liverpool Manager Rafa Benitez (Credit Image: © Imago/ZUMApress.com) 
Now that the Premier League season is over, and everyone has had time to digest Chelsea's title win, two glaring questions continue to persist in my mind. As I take a quicker than usual look at this past Premier League season, tonight I start with some of the issues going on at Liverpool.

I don't think anyone could have expected the season that Liverpool had on the pitch. Between Alberto Aquilani never settling into the side (and now allegedly being up for sale after only one season at the club), an injury to Fernando Torres that saw him miss sixteen games (only playing seven games in 2010), an inability to effectively use Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt as plugs throughout the midfield, and having to mix and match center backs this season did not do wonders for team chemistry. Furthermore, an exit out of the Champions League must not have done wonders for morale as 2009 changed into 2010.

However, the biggest problems at the club continue to be inside the board room. Late into the season, a new chairman was brought in to assist in the selling of the Anfield outfit. As the season rolled on, it was very clear that Tom Hicks and George Gillett never had a true plan on how to move the club forward amongst the pile of debt the club has. That situation got worse when RBS agreed to give Liverpool a six month extension on their loan repayment. The only catch to that, however, is that Liverpool has to be sold by then.

And then there is Rafa Benitez, the manager who has been in the middle of this mess from the start. Depending on the fans you ask, you will get two totally different opinions of the man: the one camp entrenched in the 'let the ownership situation sort itself out and let him continue on as manager of the club', the other believing that his time has come and it is time for him to move on. While it is still unknown if Rafa Benitez will be around as the manager to see out the start of the summer transfer market, it is the biggest question that needs to be answered at Anfield.

While the rumor mill has been rife with speculation over Fernando Torres, and to a smaller degree Steven Gerrard, the speculation surrounding Rafa Benitez is easily the hottest. If it was up to me, Rafa would go. With Anfield out of the Champions League, the club needing to be sold, and a squad that is going to have a different look about it starting next season, it's just time for a fresh start at Anfield.

However, with Rafa Benitez being defiant about his future to the press, no one truly knows what the story will be. If Benitez stays, one has to worry that even with new ownership, it will maintain the status quo until a new manager comes in. If Rafa is sacked, it could be the perfect way for new ownership to start out fresh at Anfield. Considering Tottenham took fourth this season, and Manchester City will again spend in hopes of making the top four next season, Liverpool are going to struggle in getting back into the Champions League places.

Regardless if Rafa is manager or not.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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