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Rafael Benitez
Gender Male
Ethnic Spanish
Job Spanish Football Coach
Desc There are few managers over the past 35 years who have been able to break Barcelona and Real Madrid’s stranglehold of La Liga. Radomir Antic, Diego Simeone and Javier Irureta each achieved the feat once, but only one man has had the guile, wisdom and tactical knowledge to defeat Spain’s heavyweight duo twice in that time - the grossly underappreciated Rafa Benitez. A future Champions League winner for Liverpool, the Spaniard is famous for his methodical and pragmatic approach to management, as well as the ability to raise the games of all those who play under his stewardship


Club as Coach Dalian Yifang
  Newcastle United
  Real Madrid
  Liverpool FC

2005 07 06 Retrieve

[Gerrard prepared to surrender captaincy] Steven is our captain and I want him to stay as captain.

2005 08 13 Retrieve

[Middlesbrough 0-0 Liverpool. Liverpool were unable to find a way past 10-man Middlesbrough despite the best efforts of captain Steven Gerrard] I am a little bit frustrated. I think we played the last 15 minutes in their half. We controlled the game. We showed we could create chances and Steven Gerrard had four clear opportunities. It’s a pity. We controlled the game in the first half. Steven Gerrard could have had three or four goals. You know he has quality and pace and can score.

2007 05
Liverpool are beaten by AC Milan in the Champions League final, with Hicks promising afterwards that serious funds will be made available to manager Rafael Benitez with which he can strengthen the squad. It results in the infamous soundbyte: ‘If Rafa said he wanted to buy Snoogy Doogy we would back him’
2007 11
Benitez and the owners fall out over the Spaniard’s transfer targets for January 2008. Gillett and Hicks reportedly tell Benitez to ‘concentrate on training and coaching the players he already has’. Benitez responds with a frosty press conference in which he repeats that phrase in answer to every question. Liverpool’s form, impressive in the early weeks of the season, begins to deteriorate.
2008 01 14
Hicks admits the club had made an approach to former Germany manager Juergen Klinsmann, with a view to Klinsmann replacing Benitez as manager. The meeting took place at the height of the feud between Benitez and the owners in November. Hicks says, however, that such a move was ‘an insurance policy, to have him become manager if Rafa left for Real Madrid’.
2008 04
It emerges that Gillett and Hicks are barely on speaking terms, throwing the club into turmoil. Rick Parry, it transpires, was present when Gillett and Hicks met with Klinsmann the previous November, further souring his relationship with Benitez. Days later, Hicks rounds on Parry, accusing the chief executive of failing in his commercial and professional duties, and advising the termination of his contract. Parry would leave his role at the end of the following season.
2009 01
Benitez is left frustrated by the club’s transfer policy, as funds are denied following the sale of striker Robbie Keane, and the club fail to act swiftly over the contract of Daniel Agger. Benitez himself refuses to commit to a long-term deal until assurances are made regarding the control of the club.
2009 03
Rumours surface ahead of the Reds’ Champions League clash with Real Madrid that Benitez has quit. They prove to be unfounded, and days later it is announced that Parry will be leaving the club at the end of the season. Liverpool finish the campaign second, just four points short of Manchester United.

2009 08 10 Retrieve

[Liverpool Manager Rafael Benitez Offer His Condolences After Death Of Espanyol Captain Daniel Jarque] This is a very sad day and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Daniel Jarque and everyone at Espanyol

2009 09
Gillett criticises Benitez in a meeting with supporters’ union Spirit of Shankly. The American claims that Liverpool’s financial situation is healthier than that of Manchester United, and also denies promising fans that work on a new stadium would begin ‘within 60 days’ of his arrival at Anfield.

2014 11 01 Retrieve

[Rafael Benitez on Gonzalo Higuain before the striker hit a hat-trick against Verona] He’s a hungry lion in a cage and he must go out and eat something

2015 03 13 Retrieve

[Rafa Benitez on whether he’d prefer to win the Coppa Italia or UEFA Europa League] That is like asking if you love your mother or father more!

2015 10 17 Retrieve

[Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez after Allardyce claimed Liverpool’s 2006 UEFA Champions League win ‘was nowt to do with’ the Spaniard] Do you know who Sam Allardyce is? Do you know how many trophies he has won? Well that’s my answer. It is what happens when someone has a book to sell. His opinion does not have a lot of value

2016 03 24 Retrieve

[Rafael Benítez, Spanish football manager, in Farewell to a Legend: R.I.P. Johan Cruyff,] He [Cruyff] has been inspirational to me along my career. When I was giving my first steps as a footballer he was a myth, an icon to follow. Afterwards, when I became a football manager, Cruyff was one of my references

2016 11 26 Retrieve

[Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez praises Steven Gerrard and his career] We are talking about one of the big names in football and one of the best players I have ever had. He was a player who could play in different positions, he could score goals, he could pass, he could assist, he could tackle, he could be an inspiration for the rest of the team like in Istanbul. Thanks to him we won the Champions League in Istanbul. Everything I can say about Stevie has to be positive. And because he was worried about the way that I was pushing him, I will say, ‘Well done, Steve’

2018 03 12 Retrieve

[Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal] We did really well in the first half. The feeling was we could get something, then we conceded an early goal - two moments of quality and it is difficult for us. The first half we were creating and pushing but you have to take your chances

That’s what happens when you have quality like they do, it is difficult for anyone. To react against a good team, you have to attack and push higher and you are more exposed.

It is a pity, still we are scoring and having chances. We knew it could be like that, it is tough. Where we are, we have to keep the belief the same way we did last season.

2019 05 13 Retrieve

[Rafael Benitez channels his inner Corporal Jones] We have to stay calm, don’t panic - like Dad’s Army - don’t panic and carry on doing your job because it’s a long, long season

2019 05 21 Retrieve

[What was the Miracle of Istanbul? Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League final comeback explained] My problem is that I don’t have words to express the things that I feel at this moment

2019 05 31 Retrieve

[Rafa Benitez says he doesn’t have any advice for Jurgen Klopp ahead of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham] No! He has enough experience. He doesn’t need any advice. It’s just try to do things in the same way as you were doing because that’s the reason why you are in the final.

[Benitez isn’t worried about the lack of trophies, but he thinks that victory in Madrid could prove a springboard for further success] The first thing to say is that Jurgen has been doing really well. For me, that’s very clear. It’s another kind of challenge. In our time we didn’t have the money that Liverpool have had in recent years. They have been improving the team and the squad. To win this final would be a massive achievement. Again I’d say it would give them more confidence and more belief and more power for the future because it will make them stronger.

Some people have said that maybe now they’re favourites they will be over-confident but I don’t think so. The experience of last year has to be more positive than negative. I am sure they will be capable of doing well. But I say it again, beating Tottenham won’t be easy

2019 05 31 Retrieve

[Rafael Benitez says this Liverpool team is better than his teams ever were, given the talent both in the starting lineup and on the Reds bench] I want to be very respectful about my team, but this team is much better. Not just the team, but the squad. In my time at Liverpool we had Fernando Torres as a striker and David Ngog, who was a good player and a good lad but we paid £1.5million for him. He was on the bench. Now you have Xherdan Shaqiri, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi on the bench so it’s totally different. Times have changed. What we achieved was good because to win against that AC Milan team was a massive achievement and the way in which we did it. Now Liverpool have a lot of good players. People were talking about them having some problems in defence and they were able to sign Virgil van Dijk for a lot of money and then the keeper Alisson Becker. I think this is a stronger Liverpool and the teams around are also stronger.

[Every player, even the bit-part ones, remain heroes] Not just the key players but everybody involved in that final is seen as a legend. I was talking with Djimi Traore the other day when he came to Newcastle. Everyone remembers Djimi and every player from that time. This final is a great opportunity for the current players to show what they can do and to be sure that they will be remembered in the history of Liverpool.

Winning the Champions League changed everything and it gave us the opportunity to win more trophies and to be very competitive and improve the team. It was a massive change, not just for me, but for everybody. The players were the main ones but also the club was growing. I remember when I just arrived they were talking about a takeover and selling the club. Then we won and had three or four years in a row of winning titles and doing well and another Champions League final in Athens. Istanbul was massive for everyone. It gave us a lot of confidence to go on and achieve even more things

2019 06 01 Retrieve

[Rafael Benitez has offered condolences to the family of Jose Antonio Reyes, who died on Saturday] My condolences to the family. You cannot say too much. It is sad news for sure

: 2019 06 13 Newcastle United will embark on their third season back in the Premier League following a 13th-placed finish last season under Rafael Benitez.

2019 06 24 Retrieve

[Rafa Benitez will leave Newcastle on June 30 after the club announced that they have failed to agree a new contract with their current manager] It is with disappointment that we announce manager Rafael Benítez will leave Newcastle United upon the expiry of his contract on 30th June 2019. We have worked hard to extend Rafa’s contract over a significant period of time, however it has not been - and will not be - possible to reach an agreement with Rafa and his representatives. Rafa’s coaching staff, Paco de Miguel Moreno, Antonio Gomez Perez and Mikel Antia, will also leave the club on 30th June. We would like to thank Rafa and his coaching team for their efforts over the last three years and their significant contribution to what has been collectively achieved. We would also like to thank our supporters, players and staff for their patience during a period of uncertainty. The process to appoint a successor will now begin.

: 2019 06 24b Jose Mourinho is the early favourite to take over at Newcastle after the club announced Rafael Benitez will leave the club on June 30

: 2019 06 25 Former Feyenoord boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst is interested in succeeding Rafael Benitez at Newcastle United.

2019 06 26 Retrieve

[The revelation that Benitez would be leaving the north east came on Monday] We have worked hard to extend Rafa’s contract over a significant period of time. However, it has not been - and will not be - possible to reach an agreement with Rafa and his representatives.

2019 07 01 Retrieve

[Newcastle released an official statement on Rafa Benitez’s exit] We have worked hard to extend Rafa Benitez’s contract over a significant period of time. However, it has not been - and will not be - possible to reach an agreement with Rafa and his representatives.

2019 07 01 Retrieve

[Benitez has finally broken his silence following his exit, insisting that creative differences between himself and Newcastle board led to his final decision] Thank you to everyone at the Club who has helped the team and of course to the fine players who grew and fought with us and to the staff (one of the best I have ever shared time with). From winning the Championship to our two seasons in the Premier League, fans, staff and players have all been United. I wanted to stay, but I didn’t just want to sign an extended contract, I wanted to be part of a project. Unfortunately, it became increasingly clear to me that those at the top of the Club did not share the same vision. I’m very sad about that, but I do not regret for one moment my decision to come to Tyneside and I’m very proud of what we achieved together. I will always have you in my heart. Best of luck for the future. C’mon Toons!

2019 07 02 Retrieve

[Rafa Benitez has been officially appointed as the new coach of Dalian Yifang after leaving Premier League club Newcastle] I’m sad because Newcastle has been my home. If Liverpool is where my family live, then Newcastle will always be my other home. You can sell a house, but you can never sell a home. To have that connection with a city and fans, it’s strange and difficult to lose that. I feel like an honorary Geordie now.

In your career, you come to understand that football is a business, so you have to be professional, but sometimes it’s about the relationship with fans. I was lucky to have that in Valencia and Tenerife, in Napoli and Liverpool, and Newcastle was the same. In our bad runs, it meant I could stay calm and do my job. They were behind us. It is difficult to say goodbye, to say goodbye to that feeling.

I have just a . . . not regret, but a little bit of disappointment that I couldn’t go higher. I’m really pleased with what we did with the resources we had, with all the things around - everybody knows it’s not easy - but I’m just disappointed we couldn’t achieve more, that we couldn’t compete and reach the real potential of this fantastic club.

2019 07 03 Tweet

[Former Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez on his move to Dalian Yifang] After a long path… We start a new challenge! I’m happy to begin this new project with Dalian Yifang.

2019 07 04 Retrieve

[Former Newcastle United coach Rafa Benitez has stressed his decision to join Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang wasn’t for the money] I have had offers of greater financial significance during my career, but they weren’t the project I was looking for. What I have found at Dalian is an incredible project that has arrived at the perfect time and this has been a major factor in my decision. We’ve accepted the challenge of leading a superb project with the full backing and confidence of the club’s leadership team. Over the last years many players and coaches I know have arrived in China, so I have been able to follow the Super League as much as possible.

It’s a competition with its unique qualities so we will have to know how to adapt, but our path forward is clear. Dalian Yifang is an historic club in one of the most football passionate cities in the country, so this is an added attraction. Everyone says how loyal the Dalian fans are and we’ve witnessed this passion for the club from the very first moment. Without doubt coming to a club with such great supporters was another key in making this commitment

[That’s an issue the 59-year-old clearly doesn’t think he’ll have with Dalian, who boast star players Yannick Carrasco and Marek Hamsik] This club has all the components that we were looking for to start a new chapter with the maximum motivation. Among the directors of the club I have found people who value my track record, such as the chairman of the Wanda Group, Mr. Wang, who is keen to grow this club as much as possible, develop a tremendous project and support this growth with all the necessary resources. We share the same ambition of developing a great project here and leave a legacy in Dalian

2019 07 07 Retrieve

[Rafa Benitez has left the door open to a potential return to Newcastle in the future, after saying he expects to return to the UK after his time in China] I expect to do well with Dalian Yifang and after that to come back to the UK. I don’t know when. But you are always happy to come back where people appreciate your effort and commitment - and Newcastle United’s fans have been one of the best in my management career. I can only offer them my gratitude. I showed my commitment from day one and they supported me all the time - even when things on the pitch were not going well. They supported the team and me. I sincerely hope they can achieve their potential. They deserve the best they can get.

2019 07 09 Retrieve

[Rafael Benitez has revealed he has already had more meetings with club officials in one week with Dalian Yifang than he did during three years at Newcastle United] Since the moment of our arrival we have really been touched by the kindness and respect that we have been shown. As we all know from experience, in football, just as in everyday life, when people show you respect and affection and do everything they can to make things easier for you, life is much happier, even when you face difficult moments. I must say that I have had more meetings with the chairman, the president and the general manager this week than I had in three years at Newcastle. They haven’t just been work meetings, rather signs of respect in which we have been able to appreciate the differences and similarities in our cultures

[Benitez got his reign off to a positive start on the field with a 3-1 win over Henan Jianye on Sunday] We’ve hardly been in China for a week and I have seen and experienced so much for the first time, it could easily have already been a month. My coaching team and I have visited so many countries in the past and we’ve worked for years in Spain, Italy and England. But this experience is like no other. Before leading a training session or managing a match I have found some challenges that I haven’t experienced in the other countries where I have worked or visited. Most of the players and the people around you don’t understand anything you say and vice versa, so you need a translator by your side at all times, even to transmit the smallest correction in training

: 2019 07 11 Sam Allardyce claims he rejected the chance to speak to Newcastle United about returning to the club as Rafael Benitez’s replacement

2019 08 11b Retrieve

[Rafael Benitez, who made clear his frustration with what he perceived to be a lack of ambition at the club, used his official website to offer a message of support to Newcastle on Sunday] At the start of the Premier League season, I would like to wish Steve Bruce, all the players and the fans good luck

2019 08 13 Retrieve

[Rafael Benitez has lifted the lid on his acrimonious departure from Newcastle United] ple in Newcastle have been talking about my decision to move to China without knowing what happened behind the scenes during my three years at St James’ Park. I haven’t wanted to say too much about that - I’ve encouraged supporters to get behind Steve Bruce and his new team - but I’ve been made aware of what Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, claimed in the club’s match programme last weekend and I think it’s important I address that. Hopefully, it will be the last time I have to do so. In the future I want to write about football and nothing but football.

When I joined Newcastle in 2016, I did it with all my heart. I could feel the history and see the potential of the club and I wanted to be part of a project and to stay close to my family on Merseyside. I tried to do my best every day, even staying when we went down to the Championship and saying no to other offers - bigger offers than the one I recently accepted with Dalian Yifang, by the way. If I was only interested in moving ‘for money’, as Charnley stated, I could have done it much earlier. Over my long career, and especially in my time at Newcastle, I’ve always shown commitment to my club, its city and its community and I’ve done it with professionalism and honesty. I want to remember the good moments I spent in the north east - and there were many of them - and not have to keep denying things about my time there or about my departure.

Newcastle’s board had a year to sort out my contract but, when we met after the end of last season, they didn’t make me an offer I could accept. They told me they didn’t want to invest in the academy or the training ground - if they like, I can explain the reason why Mike Ashley refused to do that. Their idea of a project was a policy of signing players under 24 and, in my opinion, the budget available was not enough to compete for the top 10. After that meeting, I knew they would not come back with a serious offer and, when it arrived, 19 days later, it was for the same salary as three years earlier and with less control over signings. Charnley’s comments in the programme about having a deal agreed for Joelinton in February explains a lot that I couldn’t understand at that time. After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn’t trust them.

When we finished 10th in the Premier League in our first season back, all players and staff were paid a bonus - aside from my coaching team. That felt like a punishment for me not signing an extension. So, by the end, I knew there would not be a proper offer and they knew I was not signing. I couldn’t explain that in public because I was not allowed to talk to the press without their permission, so I was waiting until late June, like every fan, hoping there would be good news about Newcastle’s prospective takeover. The time was passing and we were losing job opportunities in Europe. I couldn’t wait forever. I’m a family man and I have a responsibility to them, my staff, Paco Francisco de Míguel Moreno, Antonio Gomez and Mikel Antia, and their families, too. I don’t like to gamble with the future of my people. In front of us we had three options: nothing serious from Newcastle, the hope of a possible takeover or a different project. Yes, it was a big offer in China - I have never denied that - but it was also another continent and another league, from a club giving us a lot of recognition and respect. That decision wasn’t easy, but it was clear

2019 07 19 Retrieve

[Salomon Rondon has completed a move to Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, with the former Newcastle loanee being reunited with Rafa Benitez after leaving West Brom] Salomon Rondon has today joined Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang for an undisclosed fee. The Venezuela international will be teaming up with Rafa Benitez, who led Newcastle United during his loan spell at St James’s Park last season. Rondon arrived at The Hawthorns in the summer of 2015 and made 120 appearances for the Baggies, scoring 28 goals. The club wishes Salomon and his family all the very best in the future

2019 08 28 Retrieve

[When asked which player he wished he could manage] Maybe Messi. He is so good that I could maybe just have sat on the sidelines and enjoyed watching him play! When he trained at the Manchester City training ground with Argentina, I had a conversation with him and we spoke the same language - about football, too

[When asked which current Liverpool player he would have liked in his 2008-09 team] [Virgil] van Dijk, he would help. Not because the others are not good enough but because in this position he is maybe the best at the moment. We had Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard so we had lots of good attacking players, but as a centre-back - although I was really pleased with my players - Van Dijk is maybe playing at another level now

2019 09 27 Retrieve

[Rafa Benitez says Steven Gerrard has the potential to be Liverpool boss one day] I think he has the potential to be a good manager. As he said in one interview, he was lucky enough to have different managers and from different countries, which is always good for your development. I think he can be a great manager, he is already doing well, but only time will say how good he will be

[A man now in charge of Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang said when asked to pick out his most testing opponents] In Spain, when I was at Valencia, it would have been Real Madrid with Vicente Del Bosque because they had a very good team. In England, at the beginning it was Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, they were a really good team and I was pleased we were competing with them and even beating them in the Champions League. Obviously always Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, they were very strong at this time. In Italy, Juventus under Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri. In England afterwards, it would be Liverpool and Manchester City under Klopp and Pep Guardiola

2019 10 17 Retrieve

[Which players have played for both Manchester United and Liverpool in the Premier League era? Man Utd received a bid from Liverpool to sign Gabriel Heinze, but Ferguson’s side refused to allow the transfer due to the rivalry. United claimed that their agreement was that Heinze would only be able to sign for a foreign side, should he decide to leave Old Trafford. Heinze, however, went public with his desire to join the Merseyside club, which didn’t go down too well with the Old Trafford faithful. The Argentine was eventually sold to Real Madrid] It’s clear he’s a player we like and he’s a very good player. That’s the reason why they don’t want him to leave for us. We made an offer which they rejected

2019 11 15 Retrieve

[Former Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez admits he is hoping to return to the Premier League at some stage in the future] I follow all of the teams because you need to know the players and you need to know the league. In the future, so I am here, I am happy, and they are happy so hopefully we can do things well. But in the future I will come back to England, my family is there. I am happy, it is not like I would like to go back right now. But in the future, yes. At the moment I am working hard here

[Benitez, who has previously overseen a Champions League win at Liverpool and Europa League success with Chelsea] Obviously my idea in the future will be the Premier League. Then I want to stay close to my family. It is a league I like a lot. My memories. Why I decided to stay in Newcastle after relegation is because we beat Tottenham 5-1 in the last game with 10 players and the atmosphere was amazing. You could hear the fans, the staff, the players and the togetherness between everyone. That is what I was looking for. If in the future, people were talking about our first game here when we had 30,000 people. After two or three games we then had 55,000 people so I like to see the fans enjoying the game, the passion and the commitment of the players. This is what I had at Newcastle and hopefully in the future when I go back to the Premier League

2019 12 09 Retrieve

[Benitez rules himself out of Arsenal and Everton jobs] In the future I would like to come back to the Premier League because I like the league, but at the moment I can be very clear, there’s no chance I will come back now. I’m really pleased (with my current job), they trust me, they have a lot of staff working on a big, big project. The league is different, it is another level. Wanda, that is behind the team, is a massive company and they want to change everything, they want to change the structure. We are in charge of the kids from six years old until the first team. So I want to leave a legacy and it’s a challenge for me. I’m learning a lot, it’s a great experience and I’m quite happy at the moment

[When pressed on whether that meant he was not interested in the Everton and Arsenal roles] Yes, at the moment it’s a no

It was true that I was nearly there (West Ham), then Real Madrid came and I needed a couple of days to know exactly was going on and, obviously, I couldn’t say no to Real Madrid. But it is a massive club, they have problems now but they will do well in the end

2019 12 09b Retrieve

[Benitez backs ‘consistent’ Liverpool to win long-awaited Premier League title] I think so. I think that they are doing so well. They are very consistent. It is very difficult for them to lose games, especially to lose games in a row for sure. They have been signing the right players over the past year, spending money obviously, but (on) very good players in the right positions and the ones the manager was looking for

[When asked what was the secret to their success Benitez, who managed the Reds between 2004 and 2010] They have a very good balance. So it’s not just that they have good defenders or people are just talking about the goalkeeper. The full-backs go forward, the strikers have pace and ability, and the midfielders press all the time. As soon as they attack you, if they give the ball away they are pressing you so it is very difficult to counter-attack and create something. If you are a team that has plenty of possession they are so aggressive, it is not easy. If you are a team that wants to play counter-attack they are so quick. We tried that with Newcastle but we couldn’t go in behind them because they were faster than our players

2019 12 09c Retrieve

[Rafael Benitez says he would be open to taking the Everton job in the future despite being a former manager of Merseyside rivals Liverpool] Obviously I have Liverpool connections, that is very clear. But at the same time we are involved in the city, we have a lot of friends in the city, Evertonians and Liverpudlians. So I don’t have any problem with the fans, with the people there. Obviously we are closer to Liverpool but in the future, I am a professional, so in the future, you never know. Imagine I want to stay in England, I want to stay close to my family, I cannot get a job, then you have a job there close to you

[Benitez also moved to clarify comments he made about Everton following a Merseyside derby match in 2007. Speaking after the game at Anfield, which finished 0-0, Benitez described the Toffees as a ‘small club’, enraging the blue half of the city] I made mistake when I said it (Everton) was a small club. What I wanted to say was a small team, because in this game I remember they had one chance and nearly they won and they were (defending) too deep. Liverpool fans were happy and the Evertonians were upset. But I didn’t want to say they were a small club, I wanted to say they were a small team. When I walk in the street sometimes Evertonians come up to me and they say what I’ve done for the city, I have a charity there. So I have very good connections with the city, not just the Liverpool fans. At the moment I cannot come back to the Premier League because I am happy in China, it is a big project as I have said, we have a new training ground, with 40 pitches, so it is a great project and we will see what happens. In the future, you never know because I am a professional. I love Liverpool, I love the Liverpool fans. But at the same time I want to do my passion which is to get a job and continue working

2019 12 18 Retrieve

[Comments made by Sir Alex Ferguson regarding fixtures favouring rivals famously provoked Rafa Benitez during the 2008-09 season, when the Spaniard’s Liverpool team were out in front in the race for the title] I was surprised by what has been said, but maybe they [Manchester United] are nervous because we are at the top of the table. But I want to talk about facts. I want to be clear, I do not want to play mind games too early, although they seem to want to start

2020 03 03 Retrieve

[Benitez responds to ‘lies’ he tried to teach Ronaldo free-kicks and change Modric’ passing] That’s a lie. At no time did I tell him how he had to take them. The only conversation I had with Cristiano about free-kicks was in Australia, during pre-season. I told him we had analysed, together with my goalkeeper coach, the free-kicks he took when he was at Manchester United and the trajectory of the ball in relation to the position of the wall. Our idea then, as Liverpool coaches, was to try to counter their [United’s] free-kicks. But that’s it. At no time, as coach of Madrid, did I tell CR7 how free-kicks should be taken

I only told him that, of course, when you have a simple pass, you have to hit it with the inside [of your foot] because then it’s easier for your team-mate. When I played, I also used the outside, but in 10-15-metre passes. Anyone who knows me knows this is a lie [that I told Modric to stop]. However, it’s very easy to release lies and make them appear true

I went a long time without talking about the club. In one moment, it occurred to me to say something… and it seemed as though I couldn’t say what I thought. Therefore, what I do is not talk about Madrid. I focus on the future, which is Dalian. We were able to sign Lucas [Vazquez], Casemiro and [Mateo] Kovacic. Two of them are still there, and at a good level, but I don’t want to talk about that. In six months, they let me do what they let me do. For whatever reason, there wasn’t interest to do more. And that’s it. I don’t want to say more

[He is not discounting a return to Europe] I’m not thinking of coming back now. We want to develop this Chinese project. Before coming here, I had offers from different places, but they didn’t meet the conditions we were looking for

2020 05 25 Retrieve

[Benitez reveals strange elevator superstition ahead of Champions League glory] I still think about standing in the team hotel before the game, waiting for one of the elevators to take us down to the lobby. I was saying, ‘If this lift comes, we will win 1-0. If it’s that one, we’ll draw, if it’s that one over there, we’ll lose. And if it’s this one, we’ll win on penalties’. There are no prizes for guessing which one finally arrived. It was a night of ups and downs, so a story about lifts feels appropriate

2020 05 25b Retrieve

[Benitez reveals what he told Liverpool players at half-time of 2005 Champions League final] When you concede a second goal, you have to think about changing something. And if you concede a third? Well, then you definitely have to change and that was very clear. I said to Pako Ayestaran, my assistant, ‘I will give the half-time team talk and we will talk about three at the back to have an extra player in the middle. You go and do the warm-up with Hamann’. The message we gave to the players was about confidence - try to score early, get back in the game. That was the main thing. In other circumstances or with smaller teams, perhaps you might be looking at damage limitation because you don’t want to concede four or five goals but this was a final. You have to go for it. And then, depending on what happens in the first few minutes, you make decisions. Again, we did it

2020 06 17 Retrieve

[Benitez: Dalian Pro have discussed Carrasco-Lozano swap deal with Napoli] We stayed in touch and when we talk to each other we feel mutual respect. At the time, as is inevitable, there were differences, but nothing sensational or disrespectful. We had the opportunity to chat in January, it seems to me, because an exchange could be made involving Lozano and Carrasco