Tag Archives: Rafa Benitez

Phil Dowd did his best as Liverpool and Man United game got ugly

Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United blacked out the media after Sunday's loss to Liverpool. Sir Alex couldn't complain too much about the performance of referee Phil Dowd who kept the game in control despite some late first-half bust ups. (Courtesy AtilaTheHun Flickr)

By Jonathan Gold

If there had been a way, this weekend, for referee Phil Dowd to use big wooden paddles painted red and yellow to dish out whacks on the ass instead of simply brandishing red and yellow paper cards, I’d have been all for it. Some of the behavior from both sides during Manchester United’s visit to Anfield was reprehensible and detracted unfairly from a great game.

How completely have Liverpool been transformed after the departure of Roy Hodgson? This was a team so mired in misery that the fans wanted Rafa Benitez back, poor demented souls. Contrast any of the abject results from earlier this season – I’m sure Kevin remembers them all – with the bright, authoritative performance in front of a rapturous home crowd this weekend.

OK, none of Dirk Kuyt’s three goals was exactly spectacular where he was concerned – but there were moments of genius in the build-up play, mostly from Luis Suarez, noted World Cup villain. His weaving dribble up the byline was electrifying to set up the first, and he produced a nice free kick that van der Saar couldn’t hold onto for the third. That said, the term “poacher’s instinct” is overused, but that’s exactly what he displayed to grab an unlikely hat-trick.

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Serie A Thoughts: Inter Milan pushing for sixth straight Scudetto while Di Natalie keeps scoring for Udinese

Leonardo has resurrected an Inter Milan squad that looked dead in the water under Rafa Benitez. If Inter can win the game it has in hand over league leaders AC Milan then the club will be just three points a weary looking Milan side.

By Kevin Koczwara

Life looks a whole lot better for Internazionale fans since Leonardo took over and Rafa Benitez let the San Siro door smack him in the rear. The Brazilian has lead Inter Milan to four consecutive league wins, helping the club jump from sixth to fourth in the table today after a 3-2 win over Cesena.

Inter Milan’s defense hasn’t been stalwart since Leonardo arrived — the club has yet to keep a clean sheet under the Brazilian — but he has injected a new life into an attack struggling to find an identity under Benitez. The Nerazzurri managed a meager 20 goals in 15 games under the Spaniard. Compared with Leonardo’s rejuvenated Inter Milan, which hasn’t scored less than two goals under Leonardo in his five games in charge, and one can see just how much stress has lifted from the squad. In fact, Inter has scored two goals once, three goals three times, and four goals once — an impressive run for a team that looked flat for much of the Serie A season.

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Leonardo takes over for Benitez at Internazionale

Inter Milan will look to a former rival to turn things around as the team's manager. Leonardo spent 13 years with AC Milan as a player, scout and manager, now he will lead Milan's hated rivals. (Courtesy Wikicommons/????? ????????)

By Kevin Koczwara

Inter Milan sacked Rafa Benitez and hired a manager who use to play, scout and manager its fiercest rival, AC Milan. Leonardo was unveiled last week as Inter’s manager, despite being a feared and hated rival during his playing days with the Rossoneri.

“I thank Milan for 13 years together, and I will never forget them but now I start a new adventure. I am a free man,” Leonardo told The Guardian during his press conference earlier this week.

Leonardo left his post as AC Milan’s manager in May. He was unable to impress Milan’s owners during his first season as the club’s manager. Oddly enough, after 13 years with Milan, the Brazilian takes over an Inter Milan side 13 points behind his former club in the table. Inter does have two games in hand, but the team will have to work hard the second half of the season to claim its seventh straight Serie A title.

“I still believe in the scudetto. I know 13 points is a lot but the championship still has a long way to run,” said Leonardo. The 41-year old wan unable to lead AC Milan to a title last season, but he did secure a third-place with an aging squad and limited resources.

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Benitez's Bold Statements Cost Him His Job at Inter Milan

Rafa Benitez spent just six months in charge of Inter Milan before being relieved of his duties. (Courtesy DJDannyP)

By Kevin Koczwara

Oh, Rafa Benitez, you wily, old man. You’ve worn out your welcome at the San Siro with Inter Milan already. It didn’t take long. Massimo Moaratti will be pleased to rid his hair of the negative Benitez before his players become disenchanted like Yossi Benayoun and Albert Reira did at Liverpool, among others. It took just six months.

It took a lot longer for the former Valencia boss to do the same at Liverpool – demanding transfer funds and saying he has no support from his bosses. Eventually, the board there had enough of the managers antics,and Benitez found himself unemployed. Now, speaking out again about transfer money and poor league form cost Rafa another job, his second in less than a year.

Inter Milan needed a new manager when Jose Mourinho bolted for Real Madrid after securing an unprecedented treble and winning the club’s first UEFA Champions League trophy since 1964. Benitez made improvements at Liverpool during his time there one – cannot forget he did lead the team to glory in the 2005 Champions League.

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Carlos Tevez Wants Out of Manchester City; Sam Allardyce Wants In, Somewhere

Carlos Tevez handed in his tranfer request this weekend to Manchester City. Maybe it's time for a new billboard then. (Courtesy Johnny Vulkan)

By Kevin Koczwara

Okay Carlos Tevez, I believe you want to be closer to your family, your daughters and your home. I can understand how angry you are that you have to play alongside Mario Balotelli and his ugly haircut. I understand Roberto Mancini isn’t Sir Alex and Manchester City may have all the money in the world, but its a club without a plan, and you are a man with a plan.

I got all that. In fact, I side with you. Who would want to live in Manchester when your best buds are having a great time scoring for fun, making millions, and playing in the Champions League with Barcelona.

But, Carlos I have to say, at £230,000 a week with bonuses, I would stick out another year or two at City and maybe go home and buy Argentina for myself. Maybe Tevez could build a small island of his own to live on with his family with that kind of money. I know I am being shallow here, but come on.

Tevez hit the jackpot with City, and he should have known it would have been one big bust up going in and taken the money from somewhere else if the ride was going to be this bumpy.

Tevez now knows, written promises and clauses are always better than a business man’s shake.

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Samuel Eto’o Scores in the Face of Racist Chants

Samuel Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic swapped teams in the summer of 2009. Eto'o moved to Inter Milan while Ibrahimovic headed to Barcelona, and their paths have been very different since the switch. Courtesy ruprtable flickr

By Kevin Koczwara

Samuel Eto’o scored his sixth goal in seven games for Internazionale on Sunday in the team’s, 1-0, win over Cagliari in front of a hostile crowd that partook in exposing the ugly side of Italian soccer: Racism.

The Italian national team called off a Euro 2012 qualifying match with Serbia after Serbian fans rioted in Genoa. The game had to be called after six minutes of play after Serbs threw flares onto the field and at rival Italian supporters. The riots filtered out into the streets, and the Italians were left wondering why the Serbs acted in the manner they did.

Then the fans in Cagliari showed the world that Italians still have a hard time with keeping up with FIFA’s “Say No to Racism” campaign and FARE (Football Against Racism in Euorpe). The referee of the match suspended play in the third minute because of the chants directed at Eto’o. Serie A officials gave referees the power to suspend play after Mario Balotelli was hounded and smeared by Juventus fans two years ago.

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Serie A Preview – Juve to unseat Inter

Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero are hoping to overtake Inter Milan, the five-time defending champions of Italy (Photo Courtesy James Adams)

By Kevin Koczwara

Inter Milan dominated the world of top-flight soccer last season. The club won its domestic title in Italy, Coppa Italia and the one trophy the club’s fans and ownership had been dreaming of for 60 years, the Champions League. Inter was on top of the world, and when that happens in the world of soccer, people take notice and try to build off of your success.

Inter Milan needs to find a way to handle this season without manager Jose Mourinho – the “Special One” – who bolted for Real Madrid at just days after winning the Champions League title with Milan.

Inter’s league title didn’t come without tough competition. Roma made a valiant run for the title in the later months as they strung together win after win, but it was unable to knock down the reigning and eventual champions.
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Liverpool In Transit

Courtesy Myo Kyaw Htun

By Kevin Koczwara

News coming from Liverpool’s home base, Anfield, hasn’t usually been the most uplifting news for a few years now. Owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks took on an investment too big for their bite that only got worse after the global economy tanked. Investors have come and gone in droves. Players have been upset by management and have been rumored to move during each transfer window with a lack of potential transfers moving to Anfield being slim.

This summer Rafa Benetiz was asked to leave his post at the club and then signed on to take over Jose Mourinho’s vacant post at Inter Milan, which are some heavy and big shoes to fill. The club was in flux and there seemed to be no end to transfer rumors for their talisman players (Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres), a shortage of cash, again, and a real limited supply of eligible, affordable, and qualified managers in the market to replace Benetiz — who really did need to go after he alienated much of the squad.

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Hodgson's Huge Task as Liverpool Manager

Courtesy nicksarebi flickr

By Kevin Koczwara


To say that Liverpool had a disappointing season last year is an understatement. The team was horrible for most, if not all, of the Premier League season and the Champions League. The club finished in an unprecedented seventh place and did not make it out of group play in the Champions League.

What made the poor season worse for the club was it finished with a record high of 86 points the season before and finished second behind rivals Manchester United. There were high hopes for the club going into the 2009-10 campaign, but nothing went its way.

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Premier League Puts Its Ribbons On Hold, Blue the Favorite

By Mark Duckworth of The National Game

After the drama of the Premier League that has taken place over the last few weekends, this one was a damp squib. We could have seen new Premier League Champions or United back on top. Instead we got two games that had teams going through the motions and two teams looking for victory.

Liverpool versus Chelsea, was meant to be the game that could hand the title to United, and with Chelsea’s indifferent league away form, the football world waited with anticipation. But when Steven Gerrard misplaced a back pass which led to Didier Drogba rounding the Liverpool keeper, all Liverpool’s fight seem to fade along with the bank holiday weather.

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