Squad Profiles: The gaffer
By Mark Allaway
Sunday 26 Jul 2009 13:02:00
Browse all Player Profiles articles

Liverpool FansOnline brings you all the info on Liverpool's first team squad, here we look at the top boss, Rafael Benitez.

Name: Rafael Benitez

D/O/B: 16/4/60

Nationality: Spanish

Position: Manager

Joined Liverpool: June 2004

Games: 294

Win percentage: 57%


Manager Rafael Benitez has lead his Reds’ side to four pieces of silverware since he replaced Gerard Houlllier is the summer of 2004, and quickly acclimatised to life at Anfield, becoming one of the greatest modern day Liverpool managers.


A former player for the likes of Real Madrid, though never making a senior appearance, and later coach as the Spaniards’ youth team, Benitez first managed Valladolid in 1995.


The spell at Valladolid was unsuccessful with only two wins in 23 games, then an equally short spell at Osasuna after a sacking on his ninth match in charge.


Benitez dropped down a division and found success at second tier club Extremadura. Finishing second behind Alavés the club were promoted, though unable to survive in La Liga the following season. After relegation and a resulting resignation, Benitez took a year out of management before returning with Tenerife, again leading them to La Liga promotion.


Following this second lower league success Benitez was given his shot at bigger management, taking the reigns at Valencia in the 2001/02 season. Deportivo were closest to Benitez’s Valencia side in 2002, as Benitez won his first league title by seven points. They failed to defend the title in the following year but made the Champions League quarter-finals at the first attempt.


The next season, Benitez’s last at the club as it would turn out, was bathed in glory as Valencia won both the La Liga title and the UEFA Cup, beating Marseille 2-0 in the final.


Due to differences at board room level Benitez left the club, and was snapped up by Liverpool on June 16th. Benitez was quick to adjust the squad, selling striker Michael Owen for £8 million, and signing the likes of Luis Garcia and Xabi Alonso.


Benitez’s first season in charge saw a League Cup final defeat to Chelsea, and a fifth place finish in the Premiership, with a further changing look to the squad. However, Benitez masterminded one of the greatest comebacks in European football as his side fought from 3-0 down to defeat AC Milan in the Champions League final, and claim a fifth European cup for the club, controversially defeating Chelsea along the way. Benitez became the third manager ever to win the UEFA Cup then Champions League in successive seasons.


Winning the Community Shield and Super Cup the focus was then back on the league as Liverpool finished 3rd in the league, beat West Ham 3-2 in the FA Cup final and were runners-up in the Champions League between 2005-07.


Although 06/07 was slightly disappointing with no silverware and a fourth placed league finish, Benitez continued to build, and with the likes of Fernando Torres and Albert Reira finished last season in a seven-year best runners-up spot.


Now Benitez is enjoying a spell of domestic success with Liverpool and not having to answer to speculation on his future. He is building a squad for the 2009/10 season to win the Premiership title for the first time in 18 years.

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