Saturday, January 16, 2010

Who Will Replace Rafael Benitez at Liverpool?

Liverpool are now out of all the domestic cups, out of the Champions League, and adrift in the Premiership. It looks as if Rafael Benitez will be replaced, but who is up to the task?

It would seem that bookmakers have already decided that Rafael Benitez has no future at Liverpool. The strangled 1-1 away to Stoke will not have done anything to deflect the talk that Rafa will be replaced, sooner rather than later.

As it stands, Liverpool find themselves in seventh position on 34 points, 14 points behind Premiership leader Chelsea, and four adrift of the coveted fourth Champions League position.

The current poor run that Liverpool find themselves in is played 20, lost 10, drew four, won six. The fortress that was Anfield is now just another stadium to opposing teams.

Over the course of this season, Liverpool have lost 12 times and only won 13, but most of the defeats have come in must-win games: Lyon, Fiorentina, Reading, and Arsenal.

Crucially the old warhorse that has always come to their aid, Steven Gerrard, looks tired and un-interested, and unable to dig deep and win games from nothing like he did in previous years.

Is it a sign that the talismanic captain is out of form and tired? Or has he decided that he will not dig deep for Rafa anymore?

Benitez has lurched from one crisis to another this season. The debacle that was the Champions League group stage has been matched by dreadful league form and an abysmal FA Cup exit. The only trophy the club have left is the Europa League.

The trophy might not be on the radar of their manager, but fielding a weakened team to avoid injury to his stars would be tantamount to football suicide.

Quite simply, the club's fans would not stand for it.

During this trying season there have been murmurings of disquiet against Benitez from the Kop. The first time was when Benayoun was substituted against Lyon, and the second and largest showing was at last week's defeat to Reading, where Rafa and his team were soundly booed off the pitch.

It is interesting to note that Gary Megson was sacked at Bolton, while having a better record than Rafa. Megson: Pld 20 W7 D6 L7 , Rafa: Pld 20 W6 D4 L10.

Rafa now finds himself in the unenviable position of being the favourite to be the next Premiership manager to be sacked at 3/1 and is 5/6 to be the next big name to depart from Anfield, which also suggests that bookmakers reckon Gerrard and Torres may be leaving in the near future.

Funnily enough, you can also get Rafa at 3/1 to be sacked over the next eight games, but is an amazing 1/5 to be in charge after those very matches.

Ironically, the man that Rafa brought back to the club last season finds himself as the early favourite to replace the beleaguered Spaniard, Kenny Dalglish.

The Scot is a legend at the club following a highly successful playing career and oversaw the club winning the double in his first year as manager at the club.

But many fans still feel he deserves some of the blame for the poor squad that Graeme Souness inherited.

Regardless of that, he is incredibly liked and is priced at 11/4 to take the hotseat on a temporary basis at the very least. However, good value may be found in going 4/5 on Rafa to be still in charge next season.

Darren Haines, spokesman for Paddy Power said: “Surely now it’s not if but when Rafa goes...certainly all the money today seems to suggest that is the case.

“Punters are recognising Dalglish is already working at the club and would be both an experienced and popular choice, but Mourinho and Hiddink are also proving popular with Liverpool probably facing a small window of opportunity to land such two of the most talented managers in the game.”

Betting Odds

Premier League Sack Race
3/1 Benitez
10/3 Brown
5/1 Allardyce
15/2 Zola
12/1 McCarthy
14/1 Martinez
16/1 Grant
16/1 Pulis
18/1 Everyone Else

Next Liverpool manager
11/4 Dalglish
7/2 Mourinho
9/2 Hiddink
8/1 O’Neill
8/1 Klinsmann
18/1 Laudrup
20/1 Rijkaard
22/1 Trappatoni
25/1 Van Basten
25/1 Schuster
28/1 Lippi
28/1 Nicol
33/1 Eriksson
33/1 Houllier
33/1 Van Gaal
33/1 Jol
33/1 Deschamps
33/1 Hughes
33/1 Pellegrini
33/1 Ramos
33/1 Magath
40/1 McClaren
40/1 Hitzfeld
50/1 Hodgson

Liverpool finishing position in 2009/10
50/1 1st
28/1 2nd
9/1 3rd
9/2 4th
21/10 5th
7/2 6th
23/10 7th or worse

How long will Rafa last?
20/1 Less than one game
16/1 Less than two games
12/1 Less than three
10/1 Less than four
7/1 Less than five
6/1 Less than six
5/1 Less than seven
3/1 Less than eight
1/5 Eight or more

First to leave Liverpool
5/6 Benitez
7/2 Gillette
9/2 Hicks Sr.
5/1 Torres
11/1 Gerrard
33/1 Carragher

To Be There Next Season
1/5 Gerrard
4/9 Torres
4/5 Benitez

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