Rafa Benitez-How Long Has He Got?

illya mclellanSenior Analyst IJuly 11, 2008

With a new season weeks away it seems as though Benitez has been given another chance to try to make Liverpool a viable challenger in the English Premier League.

After enduring rumours last season of his apparent imminent sacking he seems to have come through this period of uncertainty with renewed vigour and determination to succeed and prove the doubters wrong.

Although I'm not a Liverpool fan, I've always had admiration for the club's strong history and its history of great players and managers.

A dear friend of mine, however, is a Liverpool die-hard and I remember him extolling the virtues of Benitez's managerial style a few years back after the Champions League win. I remember remarking to him at the time that he was "unsackable". Surprisingly this statement did not turn out to be true!

Despite being the most successful Liverpool manager for a very long time he is dogged by the failure of the Anfield club to lift the Premiership trophy. This failure has brought grumblings to the surface that would have been unheard of after the success of the 2004-05 season.

After his success with Valencia in Spain it seemed Liverpool on signing him had finally got a manager capable of bringing the Premiership back to Liverpool for the first time ever.

This has not materialised yet and it seems that even though Benitez has brought pride back to one of the most famous red shirted teams on the planet if he does not deliver the league or the champions league this season he could be on the way out.

These two trophies have become the most important thing in all of elite management. It's also created the funny situation in which we see teams branded as "successful" despite not winning the league in their home nation (which used to be the ultimate gauge of supremacy). Challenging well or winning the Champions League is deemed as being just as successful as the team who simply wins the title. 

However, the success of Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson have perhaps done the thing last season that would sound the death knell for a manager like Benitez.

Having won both of the most prestigious trophies available to English teams Sir Alex has once again set the precedent for managers in England's top flight.

The question that now must be on the lips of the Liverpool faithful is when can we stop the gloating of Manchester United fans? I think in the situation of Liverpool the fans would be happy to win the league even if they were to knocked out in the group stage of Europe, just to rub it in the faces of their English rivals.

It is high time that Benitez brought the league title to Liverpool and I am sure he knows this. He will be feeling the pressure more than ever before in his tenure. It seems to me that this season could be his last chance to bring some tangible success in the league to this proud club.

Liverpool fans are not enjoying being also-rans in a competition they used to dominate and if they do not put in a solid challenge this season the manager who brought the Champions League trophy back to Anfield could be shown the door.

Sounds crazy I know but it is the truth of this situation that the Premiership trophy has in a strange way supplanted the importance of the Champions League. I will watch with interest how Liverpool start the new season.

I wonder how things will be for Benitez in January?