Alberto Aquilani is Rafa's Biggest Transfer Flop? Don't Make Me Laugh

Jamie WardSenior Analyst IAugust 21, 2010

HULL, ENGLAND - MAY 9:  Alberto Aquilani of Liverpool shakes hands with manager Rafael Benitez as he is substituted during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Liverpool at the KC Stadium on May 9, 2010 in Hull, England. (Photo by Jed Leicester/Getty Images)
Jed Leicester/Getty Images

Respect is a difficult thing to gain in the English media. Especially if you happen to be from another country, and even more so if you refuse to entertain their petty games.

Rafa Benitez fought a hard battle during his largely successful stint on Merseyside.

If the Spaniard wasn't responding to insults from media darlings Ferguson and Allardyce, he was under attack from journalistic bias and mass hysteria created by misinformation.

If he wasn't opening the eyes of clueless supporters to the truth behind closed doors at Anfield, he was left scratching his head as to why his own managing director was constantly undermining him by leaking false stories to the eager press.

It's no great wonder he finally accepted defeat and moved to European giants Inter Milan, a club who clearly recognised his undoubted talents as a football manager.

But even after his underhanded sacking at the end of an unusually poor season, the vultures just can't seem to let him leave these shores with the respect many football supporters and experts know he deserves.

If it's not Andy Gray slipping in snide comments at any opportunity about zonal marking (how many goals did Chelsea concede from set pieces using man marking last year, Andy?), it's Alex Ferguson-worshipping journalists intent on sullying the ex-Liverpool manager's name at every turn.

Amazingly, the £18 million fee paid out to Roma last year has imaginatively increased to £25 million in some quarters, ensuring the apparent failure of the Benitez signing is even more out of proportion than necessary.

Some even going as far as boldly claiming Alberto Aquilani as "the worst Benitez signing" and "the league's biggest transfer flop" last season.

Even the strongest of Benitez followers would be happy to point out Jermaine Pennant and Andrea Dossena as candidates for such a title. Some even happier to point to Shevchenko, Veron, Jeffers, Robhino, Owen, et all, without the same media hysteria.

Don't let the fact that Aquilani has not even been sold by Liverpool yet, which means his "failure" can not even remotely be determined until a transfer fee has been confirmed.

Or the fact that Aquilani had the best assists-to-minutes-played ratio in all of the top leagues last season, despite missing out on so much football.

Nobody knows what the future would have been for Aquilani had Benitez remained in power at Liverpool. Nobody knows if the Italian would have transformed his mentality and added fight to his clever passing and intricate link play.

But that never stopped the press making up a controversial alternative reality to suit their own agendas and web-advertising requirements.

To label Aquilani as the biggest flop Rafael Benitez signed while in England is as laughable as the suggestion that Eric Djemba-Djemba was the next Roy Keane.