Rafa Benitez cautions Liverpool on media hype as he discusses Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso may be the favourite to take over from Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool boss at the end of the season, but Rafa Benitez has advised the Reds to ignore the hype when making their next appointment.

Benitez, who managed Liverpool between 2004 and 2010, was the man who brought Alonso to Liverpool, with the pair winning the Champions League and FA Cup together, before the midfielder was sold to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009.

20 years on from their arrivals at Anfield, Alonso is now the leading candidate to take over the job Benitez once held, when Jurgen Klopp stands down at the end of the season.

Speaking to The Athletic, Benitez, the current Celta Vigo manager, started by praising the Bayer Leverkusen boss' tactical acumen and adaptability, noting, "When he took over last season, they needed to play a lot on the counter-attack. Now they have a team which is more of a protagonist, with a lot of pace, a lot of fast attacking. He is doing very good work."

However, he went on to caution against appointing managers who are in fashion, stating, "There is a lot of noise around Xabi Alonso at the moment, but there are lots of other good coaches not so much in the media spotlight.

"Teams have to choose not what is trending on social media, but the characteristics they need and the stability and path they want for their team."

Also referencing another regularly mentioned contender, Roberto De Zerbi, Benitez later added: "Teams winning games 4-3 rarely have consistency and win titles. Those winning lots of games 1-0 have to defend really, really well to win things."

Parallels with his own career

The 63-year-old went on to reflect on the pivotal moments in his own coaching career, drawing parallels to Alonso's current situation.

"I didn’t want to leave Valencia, I was really happy there, but there were offers from four teams and Liverpool’s was very attractive. You could see a project, with lots of excitement and potential," said the Spaniard.

Like himself and the many other Spanish coaches that followed, Benitez believes that Alonso may find the appeal of the Premier League too hard to resist.

He said: "They pay well, conditions are good, fans are passionate, games are attractive. So it would be attractive for Alonso, and any other coach, to prove himself and to feel satisfied."

Differing paths

Another man Benitez coached for many year was Steven Gerrard.

Responding to comparisons between Alonso and his former captain at Liverpool, whose stock as a manager has fallen in recent times, Benitez admitted: "Often, the path you take depends on the options you have."

Speaking about the Al-Ettifaq boss, Benitez added: "Stevie did very well at Rangers. Maybe Aston Villa was the right step but in the wrong moment. Maybe it is a setback, but from there, he had the option to go to Saudi Arabia and he took it. If he waited, would it have been different?"

While both looked set to make it as top coaches at one point, the differing paths taken mean that Alonso is now the overwhelming favourite for the job and Gerrard is a rank outsider.

Share This Article