Rafa Benitez Leaves Position At China’s Dalian Pro, Blames COVID-19 Pandemic


Rafa Benitez abruptly left as coach of Chinese Super League side Dalian Pro on Saturday, saying it was for family reasons because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 60-year-old Spaniard, who took Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005, had been in charge of Dalian since July 2019.

“Unfortunately, like so many things in the last year, Covid-19 has changed our lives and our projects,” the former Liverpool, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Napoli and Chelsea boss wrote on his website.

“From today, both my coaching staff and I will sadly no longer be coaching the Dalian Professional F. C.

“It has been an incredible experience and for this I would like to thank all my staff, coaches, medical and club staff, as well as our players.

“Their commitment to us in the first place, their support during the time we were there, and their effort has been magnificent.

“The pandemic is still here, for all of us, and supporting our families has been a priority when making this decision.”

Benitez had one more season left on his estimated 12-million-pound-a-year ($16 million) contract at Dalian, in China’s northeast.

British media immediately linked the Spaniard, who is based in Britain, with a return to the Premier League and Newcastle United, where he was widely liked by fans but left as manager in June 2019 at the end of his contract.

His replacement Steve Bruce has failed to win over Newcastle fans and the team are 15th and on a poor run of form.

Benitez took Dalian, a fallen giant of Chinese football, to ninth of 16 CSL teams in his first season.

Last season, in a campaign which was badly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, they struggled badly at the start and looked in danger at one point of relegation.

In the end, Benitez comfortably kept them up but he made no attempt to hide his displeasure at the way the CSL was reorganised because of the pandemic.

All CSL players and staff were kept in a virus-secure “bubble” which meant they did not see their families for more than two months in the first stage.

League placings were then decided by two-legged matches with Dalian ending below mid-table.

In November, after ensuring Dalian’s place in next season’s CSL — which begins in the spring — Benitez said the virus-revamped league made “no sense”.

“This season, with the format of the competition, it doesn’t matter where you finish, so it’s just so strange that I don’t care,” he said.

Benitez often explained Dalian’s lowly position by saying his was the youngest squad in the CSL.

But he also had seasoned internationals Marek Hamsik, the former Napoli skipper, and former Newcastle striker Salomon Rondon.

Penning his farewell, Benitez wrote: “Behind us, in China, and especially in Dalian, we are leaving many friends and good memories in a great city with very knowledgable fans.

“We have tried to learn and understand a new culture and also to transmit a more professional, more European vision of football with a new methodology.”


Liverpool Ready For Benitez Reunion


Liverpool are seeking to end a frustrating September on a positive note as they face a reunion with their former manager Rafa Benitez at Newcastle on Sunday.

Benitez remains a popular figure at Anfield, having guided Liverpool to the Champions League title with a remarkable victory over AC Milan in 2005, a night remembered fondly at a club who have won just two trophies since then.

Jurgen Klopp’s attempts to bring back the good times have yet to pay off, with Liverpool continuing to look dangerous in attack but vulnerable in defence.

That was illustrated perfectly during last Saturday’s 3-2 win at Leicester, when Klopp’s team twice led by two goals, but only won in the end thanks to Simon Mignolet’s penalty save from Jamie Vardy.

Klopp’s response was to field all four of his main attacking players from the start for the first time on Tuesday at Spartak Moscow in the Champions League.

But for once, Liverpool’s forwards did not produce the goods; Philippe Coutinho scored, but Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were off target, as was Daniel Sturridge when he came on as a substitute.

That draw means that Liverpool have won just one of their six matches during September, going out of the League Cup in the process.

However, they still went into the weekend sitting fifth in the Premier League, only five points off the top.

“The big improvement of this team in the moment so far is that we really create a lot,” Klopp said.

“We have had a lot of talks in the last two years about when we played against sides who are only defending and we don’t create enough.

“That has changed. We’ve made a big step in this. So far it hasn’t led to the results that we want, but in a few moments you cannot create bigger chances.”

– Potential –

Mignolet is set to return in goal for the trip to Newcastle, having missed the match in Moscow as Klopp has decided to play Loris Karius in the Champions League this season.

Klopp is looking forward to the clash with Benitez, saying: “I met Rafa once when he was manager of Liverpool, we beat him 5-0 with Mainz. I hope he remembers that.”

Benitez backed Klopp to emulate his trophy-winning spell at Liverpool as the Newcastle manager prepares to face the club which helped to forge his reputation.

The Spaniard led the Reds to the Champions League and FA Cup success during a celebrated six years in charge at Anfield, and retains strong links with the club and area, with his family still based on Merseyside.

Klopp is yet to earn his first silverware after almost two years in charge, but Benitez is confident the German is capable of adding to the club’s lengthy list of honours.

“It was a good period at Liverpool and we did well over six years, with four trophies and three finals,” Benitez said.

“Jurgen is someone I know well, so I don’t want to put any pressure on but he has the tools and the potential and I think they can win trophies.

“The hard part is to sustain the success with all the top sides you have to come up against, and at the moment the way everyone’s spending it means it isn’t easy.

“They have everything in place to do well, but they are competing against some very good sides.”

Benitez leads Newcastle for a second time against Liverpool after the Magpies came from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw at Anfield shortly after the 57-year-old took over 18 months ago.


Conte, Hazard Win Manager, Player Of The Month Award

Conte, Hazard Win Manager, Player Of The Month Award Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has been named the English Premier League Manager of the Month for October.

Conte saw off competition from Mark Hughes, Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger to take the prize following a brilliant month for the blues who won all four of their games scoring 11 goals without conceding any.

He is the sixth Chelsea manager to win the award after Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafa Benitez.

“It’s a great honour and I will share this with my players and the club,” Conte said. “It is the first time I work in another country with a different culture, and when you want to bring your own philosophy it is not easy, but now I am glad for this choice.”

The basis for this was a tactical tweak to a 3-4-3 formation which brought 11 goals, four clean sheets and a maximum return of 12 points with victories at Hull City and Southampton, a 3-0 home success over Leicester City and a 4-0 triumph over Manchester United.

Before the turnaround, Chelsea won only a point in September.

The winner was decided by a combination of votes from a panel of experts and the public.

Chelsea forward, Eden Hazard was also named the Player of the Month for October.

Hazard’s brilliant form last month included goals against Leicester City, Manchester United and Southampton.

He is the first Chelsea player to win the award since Diego Costa in August 2014.

It is also the first time Hazard has claimed the monthly award and the 17th time for a Chelsea player.

He continued his great start to the season in October with three goals and an assist. He created seven chances for team-mates and completed 17 dribbles.

Rafa Benitez Confirmed As Newcastle Manager

Rafa BenitezNewcastle United have announced the appointment of Rafa Benitez as the Club’s new manager.

According to nufc.co.uk, Benitez joins United on an initial three-year deal.

The Club also confirmed the appointment of Fabio Pecchia, Francisco de Míguel Moreno, Antonio Gómez Pérez, who will join Ian Cathro and Simon Smith to form Benitez’s coaching team.

Paul Simpson, Alessandro Schoenmaker and Steve Black will part company with the club with immediate effect.

Speaking of his appointment, Rafa Benitez said, “I have the pleasure to confirm I have committed to a legendary English club, with the massive challenge of remaining part of the Premier League.

“It will be a challenge not just for me and my staff but for the players, the Club and the fans.

“All of us must push together in the same direction and with the same target in mind. This is the reason why I’m going to ask for your total support to successfully complete this task.

“Personally, it means my return to the Premier League, closer to my home and my family. I can’t be happier.

The club’s Managing Director, Lee Charnley said, “I am very pleased to welcome Rafa Benitez to the club. In Rafa we have, without doubt, secured the services of one of Europe’s top managers.

“He has managed some of the most successful teams at the very highest level of the game and we are proud to now have him as our manager.

“Our sole focus now is to give our full support to Rafa, his coaching team and the players in order to secure our status in the Premier League.

“I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to Paul Simpson, Alessandro Schoenmaker and Steve Black for their service to the Club.”

Newcastle United had earlier announced that head coach, Steve McClaren, has left the club with immediate effect.

The 54-year-old, who was appointed at St James’ Park in June 2015, won six of 28 Barclays Premier League matches with the Magpies and leaves them placed 19th in the table, one point off safety.

Newcastle have won one of their last six league fixtures, with McClaren’s last match being the 3-1 home defeat at the hands of AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.
“Steve worked tirelessly to try and bring success to Newcastle United,”

Newcastle’s managing director Lee Charnley told the club website. “He has the utmost respect of all the players, staff and management and he leaves with our very best wishes and sincere thanks.

“We feel that a change is now needed in order to give the club the best possible chance of securing its Premier League future.”

Real Madrid Sack Rafa Benitez, Appoint Zidane

benitezSpanish giant, Real Madrid have sacked their manager, Rafa Benitez after six months in charge.

He has been replaced by former player Zinedine Zidane.

The Club’s President, Florentino Perez, reportedly dismissed the Spaniard after an emergency board meeting on Monday and made the announcement at a press conference at the Bernabeu later in the evening.

“The board has taken a difficult decision – especially for me, to sack Rafael Benítez – a great professional and a magnificent person,” he said

Confirming that Zinedine Zidane would be taking over, he said “I’m very proud because I know that for Zidane, the word ‘impossible’ doesn’t exist.”

Zinedine Zidane, immediately after the announcement, made a short speech as Real Madrid’s new head coach.

“I thank the club and the president for giving me the opportunity to train the club. It’s the best club in the world and the best fanbase.

“I want to do my very best to ensure the club has a trophy at the end of the season. Tomorrow is when the work starts.

“It’s an emotional day, even more emotional than the day I signed for the club,” he said.

Benitez took over the Real Madrid job from Carlo Ancelotti in June 2015 but they are third in the standings, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, after suffering three league defeats this season, including a 4-0 home loss to arch-rivals Barcelona.

The team showed great fighting spirit to earn a 2-2 draw away to Valencia on Sunday despite being reduced to 10-men and that added little to their fortune on the table.

The former Chelsea and Liverpool coach endured a tough time since taking over in June.

Benítez also took part of the blame for Madrid’s expulsion from the Copa del Rey after fielding an ineligible player against Cadiz as the club lost the chance for a major silverware.

Rafael Benítez is the 11th coach to have been dismissed by Florentino Perez, who is currently in his second term at the Bernabeu.

Frenchman Zidane, asides being a Madrid legend, has also been the coach of Real Madrid’s reserve team, Castilla.

Real have been European champions 10 times and have been constantly rated the most valuable club in the world.

It’s the end of the road for Lampard,Cole at Chelsea with Benitez as coach

Just two days into his new job as Chelsea manager, Rafa Benitez has started to break-up the Champions League-winning team by telling legends Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole that they are to leave at the end of the season.

Both players are out of contract next summer and Chelsea’s new coach said they won’t stay at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of the season.

Chelsea captain John Terry is already on his way out of Stamford Bridge with the European champions not prepared to renew his current contract.