I made no secret that I felt Arsenal missed a trick by not employing Rafa Benitez as their coach, after they removed Arsene Wenger in the coup of 2018.
Instead, they unexpectedly chose Unai Emery and at the time, Benitez wasn’t even on the short list. Big mistake, huge ! Benitez had all the credentials that were the perfect fit. with experience of the premiership at Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle. He also came with a bulging CV in Europe including spells at Real Madrid and Valencia.
For the last few years of his career in England, Benitez toiled away trying to breath life in the fallen northern giant known as Newcastle but he eventually realised that owner, Mike Ashley was only interested in keeping them in a perpetual relegation fight and wasn’t remotely interested in pushing the top six.
Benitez had an affinity with the supporters, a genuine love for the city and it was his intention to restore the club to a position where they could challenge for trophies. He finally realized that it was not going to be possible under Ashley and departed last summer for the lucrative Chinese super league.
Had Arsenal acted quickly and assertively, they would have snapped up a manager, that is a renown motivator and one that is tactically astute at the highest level. Someone that could have hit the ground running and was able to communicate his tactics to the players.
Benitez would have been the ideal man to lead Arsenal into a new era. A steady hand, a consistent performer and a recognized achiever. It’s worth putting a full list of his honors whilst in charge of various clubs because it is incredibly impressive
* La Liga: 2001–02, 2003–04
* UEFA Cup: 2003–04
* FA Cup: 2005–06
* FA Community Shield: 2006
* UEFA Champions League: 2004–05
* UEFA Super Cup: 2005
* Supercoppa Italiana: 2010
* FIFA Club World Cup: 2010
* UEFA Europa League: 2012–13
* Coppa Italia: 2013–14
* Supercoppa Italiana: 2014
According to reports today, West Ham and Arsenal are both on red alert because of a comment he made that apparently suggested he was open to an approach.
Benitez actually said,
“I am happy here. It is not I want to go back right now, it is I would like to go in the future.”
But it appears that was enough to suggest a desire to return to England and before dismissing it as another press story of smoke and mirrors, his current spell at Dalian Yifang hasn’t proved as successful as he would have wanted so far.
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Not the man that worked for the man that won the premier league. This is a clear reference to Guardiola, who is currently in the process of guiding Arteta to assume the managers mantle. Benitez is the best option and could easily be tempted back to a league in which he is highly regarded and one that he thoroughly enjoys.
Arsenal fans reacted in a positive manner to the suggestion that their club could make a move for the Spaniard. All they have to do is pick up the phone but they may have to do it soon, because there will be no shortage of offers.