Blame Benitez, Says Gillett—Is This The Beginning Of The End?

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Blame Benitez, Says Gillett—Is This The Beginning Of The End?
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The latest remarks from Liverpool co-owner George Gillett seem to have turned the temperature on Rafa Benitez' already-warm seat up to blistering hot.

"That means it should be getting better. Now if it's not getting better, it's not Gillett and Hicks; it's the manager; it's the scouting. You have to make sure you balance out your analysis.

"There was plenty of money, so if you have any complaints, take a look at the ins and outs," said Gillett, speaking of the £128 million invested in the club by himself and co-owner Tom Hicks in the last 18 months.

Such a statement makes it sound like the clock is ticking on Benitez' tenure at Anfield, but is all of this pressure deserved?

Liverpool fans are understandably anxious with regards to their club's league title drought, but it's not as if the club is starved for silverware. Benitez has had success with Liverpool both in Europe and domestic cups. He is undeniably a manager of high-quality, but he seems to face a lot of criticism over his inability to bring a Premier League title to Anfield.

Rather than be so quick to criticize, perhaps we should take a look at his competition and his other accomplishments at Liverpool.

Every member of the Big Four has a world-class manager. In his time at Liverpool, Benitez has had to compete with Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti.

In addition to their managerial prowess, the Big Four also boast considerable financial resources. Liverpool is not alone when it comes to making large investments in a squad.

Both Chelsea and Manchester United have been willing to splash cash on pricey transfers, and Manchester City has also recently joined the ranks of the extravagantly wealthy.

The competition for silverware is fierce. Only four clubs have ever won the Premier League title—Arsenal, Blackburn, Chelsea and Manchester United. Since 2004, only Chelsea and Manchester United have won titles in what has essentially been only a two-team race each season.

It's unfair to judge Benitez based solely on his accomplishments in the Premier League because of all that he's accomplished elsewhere for the club.

When he arrived in 2004, he was faced with the prospect of Steven Gerrard leaving the club. Benitez ultimately convinced Gerrard to stay, and has enjoyed success at the club because of it.

Since joining Liverpool, Benitez has taken home an FA Cup, an FA Community Shield, a European Supercup and a Champions League trophy. Chelsea and Arsenal can't lay claim to any Champions league trophies, and out of all English clubs, only Manchester United has been able to match Benitez' record of two appearances in the final with one victory.

In fact, the only club with more European success, since Benitez arrived in Liverpool, has been Barcelona, with two Champions League titles to their name.

That puts Benitez in pretty elite company.

Sure, Benitez has his detractors due to his policy of squad rotation and some transfers that haven't quite worked out as he'd hoped—Ryan Babel and Lucas, anyone? But he also turned Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia into one of the most formidable defensive tandems in Europe, brought in Fernando Torres, and convinced Gerrard to stay with his boyhood club.

Maybe I'm reading too much into Gillett's remarks, but regardless, they seem unwarranted. You would be hard-pressed to find a manager who would be able to do a better job for Liverpool, much less a manager who would do a better job and is currently available.

Perhaps instead of throwing his manager under the bus, Gillett could encourage some wiser investments.

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