It seems that talk will never disappear surrounding Rafael Benitez’s possible return to Anfield in the future. But, now aged 57, is it still realistic for the Spaniard to become Liverpool boss once more before he retires?
Supposing he stays in the game for another 10 years, that is still plenty of time in the football world, with even managers that have won the Premier League not safe from the sack the following season these days.
Benitez is perhaps the best head coach the Reds have had in the Premier League era, after famously leading them to an unlikely Champions League triumph in 2005, as well as FA Cup, Super Cup, and Community Shield success.
He is also statistically Liverpool’s fourth best ever boss, in terms of win percentage in all competitions, after only Bob Paisley, Kenny Dalglish (first spell), and the club’s first managing duo William Edward Barclay and John McKenna.
That means that Benitez’s spell from June 2004 until June 2010 saw more victories per game than the likes of Joe Fagan, Roy Evans, Gerard Houllier, and even Bill Shankly – something that current coach Jurgen Klopp cannot claim.
But, with a certain highly-rated Klopp in the Anfield dugout at present, and on an unbeaten run of 14 in all competitions going into 2018, it looks as though the German won’t be leaving anytime soon.
Liverpool have one of the most exciting attacks in the league, if not the world, with summer signing Mohamed Salah shining brightest this term so far. Many football betting tips would suggest taking his 11/2 odds to end the season as top scorer.
But, as is the norm at Anfield in recent years, if a player shines, the big clubs will come calling, which usually unsettles the team – much like it did with Philippe Coutinho.
Should Salah or Coutinho be tempted away in January or the summer, a bad run of form or lack of trophies once again at the end of the season could pile the pressure on the popular German boss.
With Klopp being such a perfectionist too, he may well even decide to fall on his sword if he hasn’t lived up to his high standards by bringing much-needed silverware to one of the country’s most successful clubs (he is still yet to win any trophy now in his third season).
Despite that lack of success, Klopp has still endeared himself to much of the Kop faithful, thanks to his charming charisma and hugely entertaining style of football.
Yet, banners of Benitez can still be seen across Anfield, and some fans wish for his return.
Now at Newcastle United – a club which many former Liverpool players have also turned out for or managed – Benitez is not enjoying the best of seasons, though he did get the club back into the top flight to prove that he still has the hunger and desire.
The Madrid-born manager also refused to rule out a return to his former club earlier this season, which only further raised the possibility.
Of course, as we know, anything is possible in football, and Liverpool’s hierarchy could certainly do a lot worse than re-hiring a man who knows the club and fans inside out if Klopp leaves Anfield in the coming years.