16 January 2008
AMERICANS.... GET OUT OF LIVERPOOL !!!!
It is quite laughable that they thought of replacing Benitez with Jurgen Klinsmann, who we don't regard as a manager of the calibre of Benitez, said Guillem Balague
Guillem Balague told Sky Sports News he finds it 'laughable' that Liverpool considered replacing Rafael Benitez with Jurgen Klinsmann
Benitez's future at Anfield is once again in the spotlight after club co-owner Tom Hicks revealed in a newspaper interview that he held discussions with former Germany boss Klinsmann in November about taking over at Anfield.
And top Spanish journalist Balague, who is a close friend of Benitez, insists the media are surprised by the way Liverpool's owners are behaving
He said: "It's fascinating because what is happening is very much unlike Liverpool and very much like a Spanish club. "There's all this politics going on and there aren't any footballing reasons to want to get rid of Rafa Benitez.
"It seems to be something else - something to do with the chemistry with the owners.
"But from the point of view of the media, it is quite laughable that they thought of replacing him with Jurgen Klinsmann, who we don't regard as a manager of the calibre of Benitez."
Balague also feels Benitez has made good progress with the team this season, but fears the uncertainty at the top of the club is starting to affect performances on the pitch.
He continued: "I think it has been affecting the side in the last few weeks because the players read the papers and cannot stay relaxed and focused. I think that is something the club should seriously consider.
"These are things Benitez will not want to hear - especially when you think you are doing a good job.
"Liverpool have never had as many points under Benitez at this stage as they have this season.
"So there is a progression, but the problem is that all the other clubs are progressing as well. But everybody would have to agree that he is doing more than good job.
"And so for him to hear that the owners are talking to somebody else - that would frustrate anybody. I'm completely convinced he wants to continue at Liverpool and what he cannot control, he had better not get upset about."
Balague also indicated there are a number of top sides around Europe monitoring the situation and would be keen to offer Benitez a job, should he leave Anfield.
But he reckons Benitez wants to stay, despite the upheaval in recent months.
"I know for a fact that there are three top European clubs that would take him straight away and the national team would seriously think about it as well - although in Spain that option is usually reserved until the end of your career.
"There is no doubt there will be jobs available for Rafa Benitez, but if you read the brilliant interview in the Liverpool Echo with Tom Hicks you can see excellent work from the journalist, Tony Barrett , who got Hicks to say things that he didn't want to say.
"But at the same time you can see positives. The meeting with Klinsmann happened in November, but there have been a couple of meetings with Benitez since then and the communication has improved.
"So Liverpool might now be working as they should do - though it would be better if the owners didn't keep telling little stories about what they've done in previous months. But the communication is improving and everyone is happier than that interview would make you think."
Balague also suggested there might be an exodus of players if Benitez was to leave, but he feels star striker Fernando Torres is happy to stay at Anfield for the long term.
"I'm sure some players will feel a new manager wouldn't get the best out of them and they might take advantage of that and move on.
"They would say that if Liverpool keep changing their manager, they will not progress at the pace that everybody wants.
"But at the same time, look at the way Fernando Torres celebrates his goals, look at the way he proudly wears the shirt and gets upset when they lose or draw. I am 100 per cent convinced Torres is here to stay, as this is where he thinks he will produce his best football.
"He feels loved at Liverpool and things are working out fine. If Benitez goes, I'm sure Torres will stay."