Rafa Benitez Is Top Manager of the Premiership After 200 League Games

Nabeel KhokharCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2009

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19:  Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez in good spirits during a press conference prior to the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Liverpool and Lyon at Anfield on October 19, 2009 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Knifes are being sharpened and axes are being ground and all for one man.


Come late this coming Sunday afternoon, if Liverpool should fall to their fifth consecutive defeat, then many a pundit and fans alike will be baying for them to fall on Rafa Benitez's reign as Liverpool manager.


The home game against arch rivals Manchester United this Sunday will be Benitez’s 200th league game at the helm of England’s most decorated club, and without a doubt, his most important as it could well be his last.


The unenviable honour of leading the club through its worst run of form in 22 years has placed intense pressure on the Liverpool boss’s upcoming bicentennial.


But before all those that are out for Spanish blood start their rallying calls, they should take a moment to reflect on Benitez’s record over the last 200 games. Statisticians at the club’s official website have some interesting numbers for all those bemoaning Rafa’s failures.


On a league table of managers that have led the Reds through 200 league games, Benitez is a commendable second, beaten only by the legendary Kenny Dalglish who boasts a win ratio of 60 per cent to Benitez’s 56.8 per cent (Benitez currently being one game behind).


Rafa also edges out Bob Paisley (56.5 percent), Bill Shankly (53 percent) and Gerard Houllier (50.5 percent).


Even more significant is Benitez’s record when it is compared to the two most successful managers of the Premier League era. Sir Alex Ferguson could only manage 87 wins from his first 200 league games at Old Trafford (43.5 percent), and Arsene Wenger 110 from his first 200 (55 percent).


So in a straight run off between Benitez, Ferguson and Wenger for the title of being the most successful manager after 200 league matches at their respective clubs, Benitez comes out on top.


The key to long term success, the likes of which Manchester United and Arsenal have enjoyed, is stability and trust. Cast you minds back, those of you who can, to the early years of Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at Old Trafford, when there were cries from the terraces and newspapers for his sacking.


The powers that be in the boardroom at Manchester United did not succumb to the will of those wanting Scottish blood, as they understood that stability and trust in their man was the key to getting them through the darkest of times.


There is a saying the columnist love to use when a favourite player is suffering from a lack of form, they all say that “form is temporary, but class is permanent”.


Rafa Benitez is renowned and revered in the corridors of football management as one of the classiest acts in the business. And he has the record to prove it.


So whatever the result come Sunday afternoon, the cries for Benitez’s head should be quelled, for history shows that it is stability and trust that will get a team through the toughest of time. And if that team has one of the best managers in the modern game, the last thing their supporters should be calling for is his head.