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"Rafa love" by a Boro fan..


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I haven't seen this posted on the board anywhere so thought i would do.. i don't have a link to it cos it was sent to me by a mate who told me that it was off the 5Live board and written by a Boro fan.. there are a few things in here that are interesting to read from a neutral - not least because i have NEVER seen a neutral write it (or heard any say it for that matter!).. see what you think..


Johnny Nicholson 4 Rafa 4Ever...

Let me come clean. I have a touch of what I can only call Rafa love.


The cryptic press conferences, the conspiracies, the paranoia all delivered with a half-smile, with a twinkle of bemusement in the eye and a plethora of downright hard to understand football decisions make him endlessly fascinating, hint at genius and madness and make him compulsive viewing. I love that his decisions are often opaque and highly unusual.


There have been times when he appears to be wilfully damaging Liverpool's title chances, which surely can't be his intentions, he is working to a different set of judgements and values that he simply won't allow to falter.


But that's exactly why Rafa has a genius element about him. He does things his own way, he walks a different path and he walks it on his own if necessary. That is the mark of an original thinker. Everyone else might think he is mad, but he won't be swayed by common opinion, assumption or default thinking. Like all true eccentrics he probably doesn't even see how odd his behaviour can be.


Just because everyone else who has spent 20 million on a striker would play him every game is irrelevant to Rafa. If he bought him and thinks having seen him up close, he's not suitable, he just doesn't play him until he changes. If he doesn't change he'll just sell him. He did. If Liverpool win the league and in fact, even if they finish second, he will have been vindicated. The victory against Chelsea goes some way to doing that already.


Buying a player is always a bit of a lottery because you don't know how he will fit in with the other players both in terms of football and relationship-wise. You don't really know someone until you work with them day in and day out. The wrong thing to do would be to stick with the player just because you paid all that money for him, if indeed he did buy him.


And aside from anything else you have to have a huge pair of b******s to make a decision like that. Plenty would crumble, give in and play him. Not Rafa. He doesn't lack bottle, this fella.


Let's not forget that the club's owners have tried to undermine him at times and he's had to deal with more off-field politics than most managers could tolerate. He's kept the side at or near the top all season despite it being up for sale, despite the future being very uncertain.


The Premier League's managers are a mixed bunch of faux academics, a few old school shouters, straight talkers and cod-psychologists, but Rafa is different from all of them.


Liverpool is such a huge club, one of the biggest and most scrutinised on the planet. It's not a job in the 21st century for a regular guy. It's too big, too intense. You need a big personality, strength of mind and purpose to even have a chance. Whatever you do you will be scrutinised in minute detail and you have to stand up to that pressure. It's not a normal job; there is no place to hide. Everyone thinks they know better than you.


His grossly mis-named 'rant' was five minutes of pure theatre, full of wry humour and sarcasm and hugely entertaining. Those who criticise him for it should ask themselves this; do you really want a league full of corporate speak say-nothings? Do you want a man who comes out with little more than strings of clichés? There are enough of them already. You can debate forever if it helps or hinders the player's performance, but for the neutral looking on, we can only applaud and call for an encore.


And yet there are times when it seems as though he is deliberately speaking less than fluent English for the purposes of obfuscation. Sometimes he seems to speak the language really well, other times he struggles with it, which only adds to his cryptic fascination. It is a brilliant ploy to pretend to understand or express less than you really do when speaking a second language but all the same, he is a master of deflecting questions he doesn't want to answer, fending of inquisitions with smiling, slightly suspicious eyes and a little laugh.


I also like that while he is a cerebral man, he is also full of boiling emotion and patrols the touchline on occasions with uncontrolled fury and frustration, unable to sit still, wracked with tension, so much so that he often barely celebrates a goal.


People say his sides are overly defensive and lack creativity but he clearly doesn't care. This is his way. It's how he thinks he can win the league and the Champions League and he just won't be moved from it. He's accused of being stubborn but you can't run a club like Liverpool on passing whims and fancies from wise-after-the-event-give-us-success-now phone-in callers and commentators.


To supporters of less stellar clubs, to hear Liverpool 'fans' berate him for his tactics and his selections of players such as Kuyt even despite the club being 1st or 2nd in the league, seems hugely self-indulgent and grossly lacks perspective. He is right to ignore such noises off.


His critics think that Liverpool would be more successful if they just threw the kitchen sink at every game, but we have no proof of that - it didn't work a few years ago for Newcastle - and Liverpool have hardly been unsuccessful under his guidance.


Trying to break the stranglehold that Manchester United and Arsenal have had on the league for so many years is no small task. He is up against two of the best managers of the modern era with so much momentum and experience behind them. After all, he's 11 years younger than Wenger and nearly 20 younger than Fergie and is surely still learning the art of English management. It's not unreasonable to assume his best, most successful years are still ahead of him in English football.


It is almost totally down to Rafa that as a neutral, I want Liverpool to win the league, if only to seem him stick it to his critics both within and without the club and their ability to beat the other top clubs may yet be the key to them doing that.


But even if he doesn't I hope he sticks around for many years because English football is a better, more entertaining place for his presence and football is all about entertainment on and off the pitch.


And on top of all these things he sports a fine beard that closely resembles the kind of felt-tip beard you get with putting felt-tip onto a brown boiled egg. Add to that the charm a Spanish burr gives to the English language and you have got a downright fantastic manager.


Like Mourinho before him, he might drive you nuts, he might sometimes seem unbearable or just downright odd, but also like Mourinho, you'd bloody well miss him if he wasn't around. Long live the Rafalution

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