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Benitez: Nice Guys Finish Last?

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Over on the always excellent This is Anfield, Neale Graham has a really long, very thoughtful post on Benitez's potential legacy, should he leave today.

Neale says that Benitez is a good manager who's career is being undermined by two factors:

1. His love of rotation
2. He's too nice a guy

Please take five minutes to check out his post. I'll wait.

Unfortunately, he's full of it.

Former Offside blogger, Brian (also known as "Steven Gerrard's smarter older brother) has a post that nicely debunks Rafa's Rotational Rot and reminds us of an excellent Paul Tomkins article on The Official Site. So rotation is not the issue - having your 2nd and 4th choice strikers fire blanks against Birmingham (incidentally one of only two teams Rafa hasn't beaten in the Premiership - the other being the hated Manure) is the main issue.

As for Rafa being "too nice", that's bullshit. Rafa, from what I've heard and what I've read, Rafa is anything but nice. He's very cold, very Machiavellian and very distant to the players - does anyone remember Steven Gerrard saying that he's never heard Rafa say "good job" to him?

For my money, I see Rafa as the anti-Sven-Goran Eriksson. Sven is charismatic, a people person, looks like a Caucasian version of my dad and, above all, is a lucky manager. Eriksson has seemingly swanned through life, living for the most part off the largesse of a chairman with very deep pockets and, as we saw from his time as England manager, getting good results exactly when he needed them.

On the other hand, Rafa has worked hard, worked his way through the system to become one of the most successful coaches in his homeland. Now he's won one of Europe's top jobs and hasn't had the same sort of success in England as he did at home. But you could expect to do a little better than have two of your top four strikers, and ultimately all of your strikers, firing blanks against an unimaginative Birmingham side. Rafa's stuck to his guns, stuck to what he knows and has been largely unlucky in the results. Hopefully he can find his four-leaf clover in the Madejski Stadium tonight. And quick.