The relationship between Liverpool and Rafael Benitez can never be overstated, honestly. The last manager to bring us major silverware (yes I know there’s the League Cup in 2011, did you?) despite his decline in the later years of his tenure, Liverpool fans look fondly on our time with Rafa and vice versa.
Of course, the fact that Liverpool are in their best years and facing the strongest title challenge ever, doesn’t change that relationship and definitely helped the game against Rafa’s current club Newcastle all the more dramatic on Saturday. Leading up the game, Rafa was frank about not wanting to do us any favors.
“I am very clear. We are professional. My relationship with Liverpool is there,” said Rafa earlier in the week.
”But at the same time when I go to play against them with someone else, we have to do our job. (Jurgen) Klopp would do the same in the same position. We have 52,000 fans and we want to do it.
“I have friends at Liverpool but also at Man City. I have a good relationship with both Guardiola and Klopp. I didn’t want to talk with anyone at any of those clubs this week in case you asked the question!”
Those friends in Liverpool were definitely showing their love for Rafa back in January when our old boss handed Manchester City one of their few losses this season. It had been snowing in Merseyside that weekend and some fans had written in the snow “Ta Rafa” in a car park, just in a place where some of Rafa’s friends could see it and send it his way.
“I have it on my phone,” he’d said of the photo during his press conference.
“When we beat [Man] City it was snowing. And they [my friends] were in the car park and one of the fans wrote: ‘Ta Rafa’. It was [in] massive [writing]. In the snow, in the street. They sent me the picture.”
We all know Rafa is a big softy at heart, and he very much did us a favor back in January that we failed to capitalize on in the coming months, because he knew he wouldn’t be able to do us any favors today. Now we just have to wait for our other former manager, who probably feels a little less warmly towards Liverpool, to see if he has something up his own sleeve against Manchester City on Monday.