Former Liverpool star Stan Collymore has taken a swipe at Rafa Benitez, suggesting that he must evolve as a manager to be successful at Newcastle in modern-day football in a series of backhanded compliments from the 46-year-old.
In his latest column for The Mirror, Collymore compliments Rafa’s achievements as a coach, but claims that the Spaniard is a ‘control freak’ and ‘benign dictator’.
Here’s what he had to say about the Newcastle United boss in his column yesterday:
“Rafa Benitez is a control freak – he has been since he was at Liverpool,”
“He didn’t like any meddling at Anfield, he didn’t want any interference in the academy, he wanted control over every aspect of the club and its direction, and that’s still the case now he’s at Newcastle.”
“He’s a benign dictator – and I actually really like that in a manager.”
“But I’m starting to worry that if he keeps picking fights with owners and chief execs at the rate he does then he may well start talking himself out of every club he goes to.”
“ Benitez seems to resent these kind of people [owners and directors of football] on the basis that they interfere in the industry he knows very well,”
“He may have a point – in most cases he probably does know better. His record tells you that.”
“But I do wonder if his feelings towards them stem in part from the fact he didn’t have a great playing career, that maybe he has some sort of mistrust of football people.
“Maybe there’s an inferiority complex at work. Maybe he feels that having football people in important roles undermines him.
“It seems as if Rafa wants to be the head honcho over everybody and that he tests club owners to the point when they think: ‘You know what, it’s too much hassle.’”
Finally, Collymore then urges Benitez to become more pragmatic (a trait I believe he does not lack!), suggesting he must put more faith in those around him at Newcastle:
“He needs to start thinking about team-building in his own image, putting in people he can trust to do the other jobs so he can focus on the first team rather than saying: ‘I want complete control over everything.’ That’s not how things work these days.”
“Even if Sir Alex Ferguson was getting the Newcastle job now, or the Manchester United job having done great things at Aberdeen, he would still have to accept there’s a chief exec and director of football. It’s the same for Benitez.”
“He has to evolve and the question is: ‘Can he do it?’ He can, but only if he is willing.”
I can see what Stan is trying to get at, but I disagree with him. A man Benitez’s authority and presence is what we have lacked for so many years. It is Ashley and co who must adapt to Benitez, not the other way around.