Would his return to Liverpool be a good move?

Tactical Conflict

Another risk that would be introduced along with Benitez’s return is the substantial conflict in the tactical style of Dalglish/Clarke and that of Benitez. For much of his time during the second managerial return, Dalglish has adopted an offensive, adventurous 4-4-2 formation, though he has also shown enough flexibility to vary the formation as required. On the contrary, Benitez has stubbornly stuck to the cautious 4-2-3-1 formation. This is not to say that the formation is not effective. After all, Benitez was the only one able to break the Barca / Real monopoly of the La Liga in the past decade, and that is on two occasions, in addition to transforming Liverpool back into European giants. The 4-2-3-1 formation requires top class attacking players, something Benitez desperately lacked during the absence of Torres and/or Gerrard. It was his stubbornness during these circumstances that Benitez failed to adopt a different approach to the game.
However, one thing that could play in Benitez’s favour is his exceptional ability to find a perfect balance and cohesion between the attack and defence, something that Dalglish and Clarke and yet to find and instill into the Red side of Merseyside this season. After all, 2 of Reds 4 wins come against a 10 man opponents while their win against Wolves was unconvincing. Their midfield weakness was harshly exposed against Spurs.


One of the established facts regarding Benitez’s professional personality is his demand of control, be that control of player movement on pitch or player movement in and out of the club. It is the demand of control of the later that would be a matter of major concern for John Henry & Co. should Benitez eventually succeed Dalglish as the manager of Liverpool. One of the first changes made by Fenway Sports Group (FSG) upon its takeover was the appointment of Damien Comolli and empowering him to oversee the recruitment of players to the club within an agreed methodology and policies. As García Pitarch (former Director of football at Valencia), Hicks & Gillett (former owners of Liverpool) and Moratti (owner of Inter) would all confirm, one thing Benitez is guaranteed to do to obtain the control his desires is to publicly air his views (remember the sofa / lamp outburst at Valencia). This would perfectly contradict with the efforts being exerted by Liverpool’s hierarchy to instill the old Liverpool way of doing things, which does not include washing the dirty laundry in public.

Final Verdict

Though the return of Benitez as a co-assistant manager has many advantages, I believe that the risks it brings along does not justify his appointment, not the least at this moment of time where club appear to be politically stable. However, Kenny could consider his introduction at a more limited role, such as a football strategy advisor, in case Liverpool continue to struggle in finding the required balance and cohesion on pitch as the season goes along.

Article courtesy of Ali Jaffar Ali at Live4Liverpool