Can Rafael Benitez Emulate Sir Alex Ferguson?

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer INovember 20, 2008

Rafael Benitez has been coaching first-team sides for 13 years now. Sir Alex Ferguson has been doing it for 33 years. Benitez has won five major trophies, while his Old Trafford equivalent has won 29.

Comparing these two managers at this stage in their careers would be like comparing The Beatles to McFly. Except Benitez is good, and McFly aren't.

Anyway! The point I'm trying to make is Rafael Benitez is certainly a long way off achieving the success Fergie has experienced in his illustrious career.

But are there more similarities between the two managers than we think? Could Benitez possibly become as successful as Fergie? No chance, I hear you cry! But I'm no so sure.

Sir Alex Ferguson arrived in management in 1974, and he had to wait until 1978 before he got a chance at a "big" club—Aberdeen.

At Aberdeen, Fergie won three Scottish Premier League titles in eight years, toppling the dominance of the Glasgow clubs Celtic and Rangers.

He also won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with the unglamorous Scottish side.

He arrived at Manchester United in 1986, and had to wait until 1990 for his first major trophy—an FA Cup. When he joined, he claimed his goal was to knock Liverpool off their perch at the top of English football.

The wait for a league title took even longer, it wasn't until the inaugural Premier League season of 1992-93 that Ferguson claimed his first league crown with United.

He has, of course, gone on to win nine more leagues, two Champions Leagues and four more FA Cups.

Rafa Benitez, on the other hand, came into management in 1986, but had to wait until 1995 before he got a job as a first-team coach.

His first major job came in 2001 as the boss of Valencia. Much like Ferguson did at Aberdeen, Benitez toppled the usually dominant top two in the league, this time Real Madrid and Barcelona, and won two La Liga titles in just three years.

Again, like Ferguson at Aberdeen, Benitez also brought European success to Valencia, as they won the UEFA Cup in his final season in charge.

He came to Liverpool in 2004 with the mission to knock Man United off their perch, a direct opposite of Sir Alex Ferguson's task set out some 20 years earlier.

In his first season in English football, Benitez led Liverpool to an unlikely, some may say miraculous, Champions League trophy. The season after brought an FA Cup for the Spaniard.

Since then, the trophies have dried up, but remember, it took Ferguson four years to get his first title for United. Four years into his Liverpool career, Benitez already has two under his belt.

With continued improvement in the league, including Liverpool's best ever start to a Premier League campaign this season, and three Champions League semi-final appearances, two of which were successful, in four years, Benitez is certainly shaping up to be a great manager for Liverpool.

So, looking only at Ferguson's career four years in at United, and Benitez's four years in at Liverpool, the man from Spain is actually ahead.

Who knows, Benitez may not be just a great manager for Liverpool, but also a great manager for world football.

Could he go on to better Sir Alex? Only time will tell...


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