Liverpool FC: The 5 Worst Transfers of the Rafa Benitez Era

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Liverpool FC: The 5 Worst Transfers of the Rafa Benitez Era
Jed Leicester/Getty Images

I should probably start by saying that I have never been, and never will be, a fan of Rafa Benitez.

During the summer of 2004, it was very clear who Liverpool should appoint as their new manager.

A man who had just had incredible success at a club nobody fancied to reach the heights they did. A man who openly begged to be given the job. That man was Jose Mourinho.

Instead, the Liverpool board went for Rafa Benitez.

My reasons for being unsure about Benitez were that he had first of all inherited an excellent team from Hector Cuper at Valencia and with just a couple of additions had taken them from contenders to champions.

There was no doubting his tactical ability, but some of his transfers at Valencia had been questionable and it remained to be seen if he was capable of building his own team which was something he would need to do if he was to bring sustained success to Liverpool.

The second reason I felt he may not be a good appointment was the sheer hatred directed toward him by his players at Valencia. This was a man his own players openly despised, and while people in certain quarters claimed he would bring the likes of Ayala and Aimar with him, both of those players were known to have serious personal issues with Benitez.

The final reason was the most worrying to me. Rafa was leaving Valencia after losing a power struggle, and the Valencia president referred to him as both power hungry and self obsessed.

Now I'm not saying I could see into the future or that I knew that these things would happen, but the failure to win anything with the team he built, his disgraceful treatment of certain players, as well as key members of his own backroom staff, and his power hungry battle to attain increasing control at Liverpool are what brought about his downfall.

There was also his incredible refusal to accept any blame for anything that went wrong during his time in charge.

Bad signings, someone elses fault. Poor performances, someone elses fault. Anything good was all down to Rafa, anything bad was down to someone else. Even when he was the only one in charge.

Of course, he did bring success initially. Nobody will ever forget the Champions League Rafa delivered, and regardless of the numerous occasions when Liverpool seemed lucky rather than good during that run, nobody can deny that it was his tactical nous and the signings of Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia added to the team built by Gerard Houllier that won the trophy for Liverpool.

He made a couple of additions in the summer of 2005 and followed up the Champions League with the FA Cup in 2006. That would however be the last trophy Liverpool won under Benitez.

After that, he began to assemble his own team in a bizarre manner, buying short-term solutions until the long term ones caught his eye, signings players to play them out of position and selling players to replace them with lesser ones.

Benitez failed to win a single honour at Liverpool with the team he built, although he really should have delivered the '08/'09 Premier League title. One can only point the finger at Rafa for that failure.

Liverpool were by far the best team in the league that season. Rafa's ridiculous and ill-timed rant at Alex Ferguson and his refusal to play Robbie Keane when Liverpool clearly needed him cost Liverpool the title with a very poor run in January.

Still though, Liverpool should have been primed to win the title the following season until Rafa embarked on one of the worst transfer windows any fan can remember, selling Alonso and replacing him with an injured player and wasting a staggering amount of money on Glen Johnson when Alvaro Arbeloa, also sold, was a far better defender and was coming off an excellent year.

A year later, Benitez was gone, and Liverpool were a mess. Javier Mascherano left the club after being mistreated by Benitez for the majority of the previous season and was soon followed by Fernando Torres, sick of broken promises during and after the Benitez era.

A lot of you may not agree with what I've just said, holding Rafa on a pedestal because of the CL success, but I write it how I see it.

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