Rafael Benitez has been struggling at Inter Milan since taking up the post at the start of this season. Anyone would struggle to fill the cocky yet charming shoes of his predecessor Jose Mourinho, the man who won a spate of trophies during his time with the Italian club.
Football management has become an increasingly precarious job in recent years as owners seek instant success. Long-term investment and patience are no longer cared for in the modern game and in this climate it is the manager who is first to receive the blame.
Despite Inter Milan’s poor form this season, Benitez had slight cause to celebrate this past weekend as the team won the FIFA Club World Cup. Although far from the most illustrious of trophies, it is still a piece of silverware. Benitez should have treated this game as the turning point of his lacklustre season, a chance to start afresh on victorious legs, reigniting the hunger for which the team were so richly rewarded last season.
Selfishly, he used the occassion to support his own uncertain position at Inter and instead of appearing hopeful he has come across as desperate.
Benitez is an experienced manager and must be aware that a rather unimportant trophy is no substitute for the domestic and European success expected of the team. He should also know that if no player is bigger than the club, then the manager most certainly isn’t. When it comes down to results fans are not interested in who is in charge, as long as they achieve what is expected of them. In attempting to put pressure on his seniors by heaving the media spotlight onto them, he backed them into a corner, forced to respond to a situation upon which they weren’t quite ready to act yet.
To have used the win as leverage to keep his position would have been fine had he done so in private talks with his seniors. Benitez clearly thought that gaining media coverage of his plea would provide some stability, he didn’t expect the board to respond so truthfully and thus illustrate the cracks which have appeared in the management at the club.
The pressure he was so determined to put on his employers has simply been thrown back on himself with the added weight a few new issues thanks to this media mismanagement.
photo by Nigel Wilson on flickr.com