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Football Insights - Liverpool

Football Insights - Liverpool

With the football season still on hold, Genting Casino Ambassador and author of "A Season On The Brink" Guillem Balague, talks about his award winning book that captures Liverpool’s famous 2005 Champions League win and Liverpool under Rafa Benitez.

Find out what happened on that famous Champions League night in Istanbul!


 


Liverpool are flying high at the moment, how far can Klopp take them? Is the limit winning the Premier League title or can he go on to do a treble in years to come?

When teams will the treble is can be a bit of an accident, I don’t think it should be a target in the same ways as for example, aiming to win the League three years in a row.

Winning the League this season against Manchester City, winning another Champions League, that would be considered amazing for a club that are just back into the elite.

They’ve done this, you can say, progressively, from losing he Europa League Final vs. Sevilla to winning the Champions League, having lost it once to Real Madrid, what a journey!

I think this enforced stop has made people like Klopp realise how much they miss football, especially given what he has built at Liverpool.  I know that he has signed a new contract, perhaps he was thinking of retiring after that, but maybe this will give him a push to carry on even longer.

Football is very demanding for him the way he approaches the game but I reckon that he wants to keep seeing this family that he has built, do well. Winning the Premier League two, three times more times in the next four years and the Champions League once more - that would be a legendary era.

Benitez’s win percentage at Liverpool was the highest any manager had taken them since 1991 and Kenny Dalglish’s first tenure, now bested by Klopp again. Although they’re very differently tactically on the pitch, do you they have similar managerial styles to get these results?

No – Benitez and Klopp are different. Benitez is like a teacher that you respect, not necessarily love, but you respect because you know he’s going to get the best out of you but sometimes you hate him.

With Klopp, he’s like a brother, he’s a father, he’s a friend, all that helps is the atmosphere he creates that is based on them all working together towards a goal. With Rafael Benitez, it was more like he was instructing people how to get that goal and they got there through those instructions.

 



With Rafael Benitez in charge of Liverpool in 2005, they won the Champions League, which they didn’t repeat again until recently with Jurgen Klopp. Do you think Klopp’s current Liverpool team would beat Benitez’s team of 2005, with the likes of Jamie Carragher, Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard pitted against current day Virgil Van Dijk, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho?

They have destroyed the Premier League, haven’t they? There is no chance that [Benitez’s] Liverpool team even though they were runners-up would, and 2005 wasn’t the best example because they finished 5th, a season on the brink – as the title of the book I wrote says. So no way that 2005 could beat the current crop now, it’s a clear one.

The Champions League triumph may have been the pinnacle of Benitez’s career at Liverpool – do you think he ever really matched his achievements at Liverpool in any of his subsequent roles?

It wasn’t the pinnacle of Benitez’s career, they were second in 2006-07, and they won another trophy in 2009 – that perhaps, was his highest achievement, even though it stopped going well, but that was the pinnacle, for me.

He won a lot of titles with Inter, more than with Liverpool, at Newcastle he did very well as well, I feel. Obviously the heights of Liverpool are very difficult to reach. He did very well at Chelsea, and won titles too, and in very difficult circumstances, I will say that that is a pinnacle of his career.

Xenophobia, thrown in his direction, from his own fans, look at it now and you think how can anyone allow this to happen. I still think he’s a top manager for many reasons. 

Do you think Benitez could come back to manage a top 4 English or Spanish side again?

I’m sure he’d like to, but it’s going to be difficult. There’s a new generation of younger coaches than him that are doing very well and will take these roles. I feel that he would be good coming back, even at Everton, why not?

If they can convince him one day. He’s got unfinished business at Liverpool that would be very difficult to return to.

There will be opportunities – Newcastle? Why not, under new stewardship. But I believe that right now he hasn’t heard anything from Newcastle at all so that possibly doesn’t seem to be imminent but why not, they love him there and he loves Newcastle.

V: 1.14.1 All rights reserved. August 2021
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