If you hear a lot of noise coming from the North West corner of England this morning, don’t worry, it’s just the entire red half of Merseyside breathing a huge collective sigh of relief.
That sigh is of course in response to the wonderful news — if you were one of the many Liverpool fans that supported the current manager — that Rafa will be staying on at the Merseyside club for the forseeable future after he inked a new four-year contract extension that runs through 2014.
“My heart is with Liverpool Football Club, so I’m delighted to sign this new deal,” said BenÃtez. “I love the club, the fans and the city and with a club like this and supporters like this, I could never say no to staying. I always made clear I wanted to be here for a long time and when I complete my new contract it will mean I have spent over a decade in Liverpool.”
There had been some serious doubt about Benitez’s future with the club up through the first-leg of the Champions League tie with Real Madrid at the Bernabéu Stadium. Rumours swirled about that Rafa would be having a press conference after the match to put an end to the speculation with the four words Liverpool fans didn’t want to hear: I’m not coming back.
But that never happened. It would seem that the Spaniard must have gotten the complete transfer control that he was so desperate for this whole time. He rejected Liverpool’s first contract offer and from there it was nothing short of a trainwreck, with both sides seemingly unwilling to conceded any ground.
Most would probably agree that the end of Rick Parry’s reign also had a lot to do with the new contract being accepted. The on-going power-struggle between the two was legendary, and anyone who follows the game or the heartbeat at Liverpool knew one side had to go — and that side was never going to be Benitez.
So what does this mean for the club? When it’s all said and done, the Spaniard will have spent a decade at at club, and given today’s lifespan of a Premier League manager, that’s pretty damn good. Not only that, but it now means Benitez will finally be able to push his transfer plan this summer without any hesitation. (Gareth Barry, anyone?)
With the contract out of the way Liverpool can now concentrate on the league and the Europe’s biggest stage without having to worry about the off-the-pitch problems. It’s time to worry about bigger issues, like winning a 19th league title.