Rafa Has 'Messed Up'

Ronnie Whelan believes Rafael Benitez's desire to replicate his Champions League success of 2005 will be the undoing of his Liverpool tenure. Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Fulham leaves the Reds nine points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, maintaining their 'Jekyll and Hyde' run following last weekend's win over Manchester United. Already missing Steven Gerrard through injury, Benitez rested several key players and started the likes of Andriy Voronin, Philipp Degen and Sotiris Kyrgiakos at Craven Cottage. And Whelan - who won the 1983-84 European Cup amid a medal-strewn playing career at Anfield - reckons the early substitution of goal-scorer Fernando Torres confirmed Benitez's mindset. "He showed me that he wants to win the Champions League and that's all he cares about - because of the team he picked," said the Irishman on RTE's 'Premier Soccer Saturday'. "He's taken players off who are the only players who are going to give you a chance of winning the game. And he drags them all off because he's got a game on Wednesday. "He's putting all his eggs in one basket. If he loses in Lyon, he probably won't qualify for the Champions League knockout stages. So, he's out of the Champions League, he's not going to win the Premier League anyway - so he's messed up completely." Furthermore, Whelan believes Benitez's focus on Europe indicates a desire to improve his standing on the continent should his time on Merseyside be cut short. "It's all gone wrong with the manager. He's shown exactly where his priorities lie," he said. "He wants to win the European Cup. He wants to be the man who wins the European Cup so he can get a job anywhere in Europe. "I think after winning the European Cup with Liverpool he will get a job in Europe anyway but, for me, now, his days have got to be numbered at Liverpool."


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