Thursday, November 29, 2007

Of Liverpool, Rafa Benitez and Money Well Spent

Here's the biggest no-brainer, duh-analysis you're going to get about Liverpool's 4-1 over F.C. Porto yesterday in the Champions League: Money Rules.

Those of you who long for the days when players were entrenched at their clubs, playing for the love of the color of the shirts on their backs, forget it. Captain Obvious calling: "Those days are over." Euros, pounds, dollars make the football go 'round, and it's never been more true than right now, especially in the FA.

Rafa wants more money to buy more players, after getting a boatload to buy players in the offseason. Yesterday, Liverpool--well Rafa anyway--got a return on its investment when Fernando Torres potted two goals. The win over Porto not only saved Rafa's job, but put Liverpool in prime position to keep moving forward in the Champions League, which I hear pays better than the UEFA Cup!

But on the other end, Liverpool's American owners want to put a cap on Rafa's spending during the coming January transfer period. They also suggested that Rafa concentrate on coaching and less on his Christmas player-wishlist. This of course came on the heels of Rafa's very public tongue-lashing of his bosses, proclaiming they don't understand the ways of the footballing world, much less how the transfer period works. Well, put the claws away ladies! Neither of you is correct; and both of you are correct.

Today, however, Rafa has the cache over the Yank duo of bill-payers. He's got legions of Liverpool supporters on his side, a European championship trophy on his mantle, a second-place medal around his neck, an FA Cup on his mantle too--and don't think Liverpool can't come back and win the Premiership this year. It's hard to knock success and even harder to justify sacking a manager who's winning and capable of winning more. He's got a viable plan for winning, and proved it yesterday. That kind of direction and focus is invaluable; could Liverpool afford to watch him leave and take that ability to another European team? When Jose Mourinho left Chelsea, his stock was never higher. The same would be true for Rafa, who, like Mourinho, could name his price at Inter for example and his absence would be lamented for months by Liverpool fans, just like their Chelsea brethren.

Winning cures many ills, but it's money well spent that makes the football go 'round. Rafa spent his owners' money well. Fernando Torres had a brace of goals, Liverpool looks right to qualify for the knockout stages where Rafa knows how to win--um, just ask Mourinho. Rafa is money well spent.

More on Liverpool and Rafa:

Thousands march in support of Rafa
Rafa's thank-you to Liverpool fans
"I want to be involved at Anfield"
Benitez brushes off transfer row

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