How much is Rafa Benitez to blame for the departure of Xabi Alonso?

Ollie Irish

5th, August 2009


The beginning of the end for Xabi Alonso at Liverpool occurred a couple of seasons ago, when Xabi Alonso decided – quite rightly, in my view – to miss a Champions League match to attend the birth of his first child.
That was the moment when relations between Rafa Benitez and Xabi soured, and the pair never made up properly.
There was tension in their relationship even before Alonso missed that CL game against Inter. His slow recovery from a metatarsal injury in 2007 had apparently frustrated Liverpool’s manager and the player’s refusal to play for him later that season was a key turning point in Alonso’s Liverpool career.
Add in the whole Gareth Barry transfer saga, when Alonso was hardly endorsed by Benitez, and you can see why he would want to return home. I say home, because Spain is Xabi’s home, and even though Liverpool fans did a hell of a good job making him feel at home in the north west, this move comes as no great surprise.
I certainly blame Benitez in part for Alonso’s departure. Rafa has the capacity to be a stubborn, sulky sod, and you wonder if a manager with better people skills might have persuaded Alonso to stay for just one more season.

So the damage is done. Subject to a green-lit medical, Alonso will be a Real Madrid player soon enough, though too soon for all Liverpool fans.
I’m no Liverpool fan but I will miss Xabi. He’s a fine player, a fine professional and he seems to be a fine human being.
How much will Liverpool miss him? Worst-case scenario: Alonso’s departure costs Liverpool a shot at the title. Of course, it’s impossible to make that judgment, but there’s no doubt that Liverpool will find it harder to win the league with Alonso gone. Can they still do it? It depends who comes in to replace Xabi. Alberto Aquilani is not a like-for-like replacement, but he is an exciting player. No, it’s time for Lucas to step up and prove that he is as good as Rafa clearly seems to think he is.
Anyway, farewell Xabi. I hope you don’t end up warming the bench in Madrid. I suspect not.

Posted in Liverpool, Real Madrid

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  1. Roland G says:

    Memories are short. Xabi had a very good last season but was rubbish for the 2 seasons before that and still Rafa kept the faith in him. Rafa was right to want to sell him.
    If Xabi is honest with himself, he didn’t perform for 2 seasons and was unfortunate with injuries. In football, sentiment wins you nothing.
    In the end, a good deal for us. Xabi leaves with our blessings. A very good player but a Judas in my opinion.

  2. Ollie says:

    Judas is a bit harsh, no?

  3. Kipp says:

    Judas betrayed the son of god for silver, Xabi Alonso was sold for 30 million pounds to an exciting team (you are kidding yourself if Kaka, CRonaldo, Benzema and Xabi aren’t exciting) in his ‘home’ nation (he is basque) after falling out with a superior.
    Doesn’t fit. And i’ll eat several hats if lucas shows any quality at all this season.

  4. nkk says:

    Alonso isn’t a Judas! You don’t know what your talking about! He was unlucky with injuries, but he came back strong last season – the season that followed Benitez trying to flog him for the whole summer. He makes our team tick in the middle. I hope we buy a decent replacement, not Poulsen! He’s not the same type of player as Alonso. Good luck to Alonso and thanks for scoring the pen in Instanbul 2005…..

  5. gfergo says:

    rafa is the boss, i go with what he says but, if he replaces alonso with poulsen forget any trophys

  6. Sampsonscfc says:

    Roland G you’re clearly a bit thick. What does it matter if Alonso was poor before last season?
    He was Liverpools most important player last season, he had “grown” into the English game. Most players need a couple of seasons.
    And the only person being disloyal here is that gobshite Benitez. He tried to sell Alonso last year, he wants him out and Alonso wants to go where he is welcome.
    Benitez out!

  7. Carrard says:

    @ nkk, gfergo:
    If you were managers, we would play next season in the championship like Newcastle!
    Benitez has got the best out of the ressources(money, players, who were brought in before, etc.). Which other manager would have won the CL with that squad? Were are the other big spending teams like City, Tottenham, Villa, who have spent more than us in recent years?
    Alonso was a good player, but overrated… He was far to bad in going forward. 18 Goals in 208 games tells it all!!!
    Let Rafa do his work, play fantasy football and shut up!

  8. Blindside says:

    Get with it ! He has gone , done and dusted . The past is the past and let’s get on with what is coming up ….

  9. Michael says:

    Any player that plays for a team moulded by Franco does not deserve any respect.
    Xabi is a good player. He is a great passer of the ball and calm in possession (tends to dwell too long at times). He has a lack of pace and doesnt’t score enough goals.
    Well done to Rafa and the new MD for standing firm in spite of Xabi and his agent.

  10. SJ says:

    @ Carrard
    In regards to spending liverpool had a pretty good team with world class player/s before benitez took over so i dont think you can compare them to Villa and City (who needed to build their teams). I am glad alonso went after that bearded bell end unsettled gareth barry anyway, serves him right!

  11. SJ says:

    * Overrated?……Alonso was a very intelligent player and one of the key members of the squad. 18 goals in 208 games is more than enough for a central midfielder with the passing abilty that he had not every midfielder needs to replicate c.ronaldo’s goal scoring form to be considered good.

  12. Delboy Dublin says:

    Calling Alonso a Judas is the height of idiocy!! He is a consumate professional, did not engineer his transfer through the media like some greasy Portuguese toerags I could mention, but instead did as he instructed and put in a written transfer request in accordance with club policies. Here is a player knocking on the door of 30, recently married, father of one who has spent 5yrs out of his homeland. Who can blame the guy for wanting to go home?! As a Liverpool fan, good luck to him, I say, and thanks for 5yrs of service to the club. Have we lost a good player? Undoubtedly. Have we lost an irreplaceable player? Hell no.

  13. jason limerick says:

    carrad you might be able to tell me the good players we had before benitz came , diao, duf, traore, will i keep going, ALONSO asked to go , because benitz showed him a lack of respect, we got good money for him, and at least we are making money on players all the ones gerrard houlier bought cost money. ALL I CAN SAY IS ALONSO WILL BE A MASSIVE LOSS, AND THE ONLY WAY TO REPLACE HIM IS WITH DAVID VILLA , AND DROP GERRARD BACK. ALONSO GAVE 5 GREAT YEARS

  14. Anonymous says:

    AAHHHH Lucas is never going to be a good player

  15. Shel says:

    I don’t blame Alonso. After Benitez tried to flog him in his rampant and vain attempt to sign Barry, respect will diminish. All the best to him at Real. Going after Barry was one of Benny’s biggest bloopers – let’s just hope Aquilani won’t be another.

  16. CrocoDog says:

    Oh my Godness…. are u guys really a Liver fan?
    Rafa sells a player that he had problem with, u guys make a lot of noise. Blame Rafa for Alonso’s departure……
    BUT do u guys remember when Sir Alex Fuckgerson sold off Beckham & then Stam & latest Ronaldo. Not much of has been written about it. All this guys had problem with him. So that’s how a boss shld be. No one is above the boss.

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