Liverpool's Coach's Departure "Consentual"
Liverpool FC have announced that Rafael Benitez has left the club by mutual consent. The Spaniard succeeded Gerard Houllier at the English Premier League club 6 years ago in June 2004.
In 2005, his very first season at Liverpool, Benitez led the club to Champions League success followed by an FA cup in 2006. He became the first manager in Liverpool's illustrious history to win major trophies in his first 2 seasons.
American businessmen Tom Hicks and George Gillette took over the club in 2007, marking a new era for Liverpool FC and Benitez. The new owners were quick to back Benitez and Liverpool returned to the finals of the Champions League in 2007 but this time lost to AC Milan.
The fans, however, were getting impatient and wanted desperately to win the title back from their fierce rivals, Manchester United. The owners made funds available for Benitez so he could deliver. A record £26.5 million pounds were spent to bring Spanish striker Fernando Torres to the club, but the title still eluded the Anfield faithful.
Last season Liverpool went out in the group stages of the Champions League and finished 7th in the league table, denying them Champions League football this season. Benitez's tactics on the field as well as his transfer dealings - including the £20m spent on the rarely used Robbie Keane and £20m on an injured Alberto Aquilani - started to frustrate the fans, and friction between the owners and Benitez became more and more public.
However, it seems that falling out of the top four is what ultimately cost Benitez his job. Rafael, who had four years left of his five year contract, resigned after accepting a severance payment and said that he was "extremely sad" to be leaving the club.
The former Valencia manager had in recent months been linked with a move to Juventus or Real Madrid. The posts at both these clubs have since been filled, and it seems likely that Benitez might fill the spot left vacant by Jose Mourinho at at this year's European Champions Inter Milan.
Liverpool FC, which in debt to the tune of £351m and was put up on sale, now focuses on finding a successor. Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill, Fulham boss Roy Hodgeson as well as former Chelsea manager Gus Hiddink have all been linked with the job. The search for a new manager could be hindered by the uncertainty surrounding the future ownership and its precarious financial condition.