Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughRafa Benitez has a point to prove with Napoli - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Rafa Benitez has a point to prove with Napoli - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Rafa Benitez has a point to prove with Napoli

With the signing of Gonzalo Higuain to replace Edinson Cavani, and the arrivals of Pepe Reina, Raul Albiol and Jose Callejon during the past month, Rafa Benitez has very quickly made his mark on Napoli and brought in a lot of Spanish or Spanish speaking players. Whether this is a conscious effort to surround himself with players that have been educated the ‘Spanish way’ and understand the type of football that he wants to play remains to be seen, although he is clearly looking for an improvement on his previous attempt at management in Serie A.

Benitez’s time at Inter was doomed from the first day, as Jose Mourinho had just left the club as treble winners and was widely adored by the players that had achieved unprecedented success under his management. They saw him as a master tactician, father figure and inspirational leader that could do no wrong and were understandably saddened when they learned of his decision to leave Italy. Inter fans were also distraught at the exit of the ‘special one’, who they saw as being instrumental in keeping a squad full of world class stars happy and playing as a team. It was always going to be impossible for Massimo Moratti, Inter’s chairman, to replicate the glory and experience that the club had just been through and so it fell on Rafa Benitez to accept the offer of employment and attempt to outperform the greatest season in the club’s history.

The problems began almost immediately when Benitez appeared to show a lack of respect for Mourinho’s achievements at the club. Rumour has it that he forbade players to talk about the Portuguese tactician and removed his photos from the training ground, although this was denied by Benitez.


Although he won the Italian Super Cup by defeating Roma just a few months into his tenure, Inter were defeated by Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup just a week later. Defence of the Serie A title was effectively over by December, when the club were left in 6th place in the table and 13 points off the top. They were also struggling in the Champions League and rumours of player discontent were rife. It seemed as if Benitez was unable to get the players to love him or respect him in the way that Mourinho had, much to his frustration. 

On 23 December 2010, the Spaniard was given his marching orders after demanding that the club back him by making money available to sign players in the January transfer window. Massimo Moratti refused the request and stated that the squad was virtually identical to the one that had only half a year previous managed to win everything and didn’t need reinforcing. Whilst there is truth in the fact that the squad was very strong, every manager knows that a successful team can become complacent very quickly and need to be kept on their toes. Benitez was never offered the same assurances or support that his predecessor had and was also unable to express his abilities as a manager due to the transfer restrictions imposed upon him; had the club brought in the personnel that he requested then perhaps he may have been able to achieve the continued success that the fans craved.

Several years later and he is back in Italy, this time with the opportunity to take Napoli to Scudetto glory for the first time in 24 years. After a very successful season saw them finish second, there is hope that the new arrivals can do just as well, if not better, this time round. No doubt that Benitez will feel that he has a fantastic opportunity to do well not only in the league and Champions League, but also to show Inter just what they missed out on when they sacked him.

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