|Date of Birth||
16 April 1960
|Place of Birth||
Rafael "Rafa" Benítez Maudes (born 16 April 1960) is a Spanish football manager who was the manager of Liverpool from 2004-2010.
Benitez came to Liverpool from the Spanish side Valencia on 16 June 2004 after the sacking of Gerard Houllier. Upon his arrival he had two very big personnel issues to tend to. Steven Gerrard, who was linked with a big money move to Chelsea, needed to be convinced to sign a new contract with Liverpool. Michael Owen, also linked to a move, in his case abroad, would need to be convinced as well. While Benitez was successful in keeping Liverpool's captain, Owen made his move away to Real Madrid. Rafa made a number of signings his first season as manager but two proved to stand out and become Kop legends in their time with Liverpool. Luis Garcia signed from Barcelona on 1 August 2004 for £6,000,000. Also on 1 August 2004 playmaker Xabi Alonso was signed from Real Sociedad for £10,500,000. Both players would prove to play important roles in Benitez's first season with Liverpool. His first match in charge of the club was the pre-season friendly against Wrexham on 21 July 2004 which Liverpool won 2-1. His first competitive match in charge of Liverpool came on 10 August 2004 in the 2-0 Champions League qualifying win against Graz AK.
Benitez was not able to win any domestic cups for Liverpool in his first season, the closest being the League Cup which Liverpool lost to Chelsea in the final. He did manage, however, to win the Champions League final in what would be known later as 'the miracle of Istanbul'. Liverpool were down 3-0 after the first half of match. After coming back from the break, in a span of 6 minutes, Liverpool managed to come back from the pit they were in to even the score to 3-3. They went on to win the match on penalties, thus Benitez brought the European Cup back to Liverpool.
In the 2005-06 season Benitez made some more important squad changes. His second season in charge saw the arrival of Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger, Peter Crouch, and Robbie Fowler, while Milan Baros was sold to Aston Villa for £6,000,000. Benitez took Liverpool to third in the league and lost in the round of 16 in the Champions League. He was able to bring to bring two trophies to Liverpool, winning the UEFA Super Cup and the FA Cup.
In 2006-07 Benitez signed Argentine Javier Mascherano from West Ham United, while Dietmar Hamann was sold off to Manchester City. Domestically Benitez brought Liverpool to 3rd place, several points behind winners Manchester United and runners up Chelsea. The European campaign proved much more successful. After finishing first in their group stage Benitez brought Liverpool to their second Champions League final in three seasons. They would contest this final against the same team they won the 2005 Champions League Final against. This time Milan would be the one to triumph winning 2-1, Dirk Kuyt scoring Liverpool's only goal.
Benitez made perhaps the most important signing of his career before the 2007-08 season. On 4 July 2007 Benitez bought Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid for in excess of £20,000,000. Going the other way was the Benitez signing Luis Garcia. Benitez also said goodbye to Boudewijn Zenden, Djibril Cisse, Jerzy Dudek, Craig Bellamy, and Robbie Fowler. Other signings included Yossi Benayoun and Ryan Babel. Despite these signings 2007-08 was Benitez's most disappointing season since taking the reigns at Liverpool, finishing fourth in the league and reaching only the fifth round in both the League Cup and FA Cup. He did manage to continue to show his European powers bringing Liverpool to the semi-finals in the Champions League
The next season Benitez brought Liverpool to a second place league finish just 4 points behind champions Manchester United. Other domestic cups seemed to still allude him, reaching the fourth round in both cups. While losing in the quarter-finals in the Champions League against Chelsea, Liverpool still made an impressive run winning first in their group stage and demolishing Real Madrid 5-0 on aggregate in the round of 16.
Benitez's final season in charge proved to be the least successful in many years. They finished 7th in the league, their lowest finish since the 1998-99 season. For the third season in a row Benitez failed to bring Liverpool any results in the domestic cups finishing in the fourth round in the League Cup and third round in the FA Cup. The Champions League campaign was also a frustrating one, finishing third in the group stages. Liverpool did manage to make it to the semi-finals of the Europa League before losing on away goals to Atletico Madrid. The run of poor results and the lack of trophies for several years led to speculation on Benitez's future with the club. On 3 June 2010 Benitez left the club "by mutual consent".
Liverpool return speculationEdit
After his departure, Benitez has frequently spoke of his desire to once again manage the club- even claiming in 2012 that he would wait 10 years for the opportunity if need be. After the sacking of Kenny Dalglish, large sections of the Liverpool support vouched for Benitez' return, sending letters, tweets and even establishing a website all devoted to try and encourage the owners to offer Benitez the job. The vast majority of fan polls, including those from Sky Sports, Goal.com, the Liverpool Echo, the official Liverpool website and many Liverpool fan forums and newspapers showed Benitez to be the clear fan favourite by a distance. He was however not approached by the club, who instead chose to appoint Brendan Rodgers.
- UEFA Champions League (1): 2005
- FA Cup (1): 2006
- FA Community Shield (1): 2006
- UEFA Super Cup (1): 2005
|Competition||Total||Wins||Draws||Losses||Goals for||Goals against|
|Liverpool F.C. – managers|
| McKenna and Barclay (t) (1892–96) • Watson (t) (1896–1915) • Ashworth (t) (1919–23) • McQueen (t) (1923–28) • Patterson (t) (1928–36) • Kay (t) (1936–51) • Welsh (t) (1951–56) • Taylor (t) (1956–59) • Shankly (t) (1959–74) • Paisley (t) (1974–83) • Fagan (t) (1983–85) • Dalglish (t) (1985–91) • Moran (1991) (c) • Souness (t) (1991–94) • Evans (t) (1994–98) • Evans and Houllier (t) (1998) • Houllier (t) (1998–2004) • Benitez (t) (2004–10) • Hodgson (t) (2010–11) • Dalglish (t) (2011–12) • Rodgers (t) (2012-15) • Klopp (t) (2015-)
(c) - caretaker manager, (t) - transfers made by manager