Surprisingly enough, Rafa Benitez isn’t a big fan of the proposed Champions League play-off system. Well ok, so it’s not actually surprising at all really.
I mean, if it was this year he probably wouldn’t have too many complaints because it would at least give him a chance at getting into the Champions League but if you go back a few years, it’s a bit clearer. You see, they’ve relied on that fourth place slot themselves at times and if it went back to just 3 automatic places available they could have missed out five times from the last ten competitions. No wonder Rafa’s against it.
Anyway, the FSW says “I have to agree with (Everton manager) David Moyes. He said what would it mean for a team like Tottenham if they finish fourth and, after a fantastic season, have to play a team who finishes seventh maybe 20 points behind just to keep the competition alive? To play three, maybe four fixtures, when you don’t have time with international football – when will you play, how can you play these games and what does it mean for the team that finishes fourth? If for example you have a fantastic season, say Aston Villa finish fourth and has to play seventh which finished 20 points behind it may be Birmingham. Or Liverpool has to play Everton fourth and seventh or fifth I think it will be a mess.”
A mess indeed Rafa, particularly if Everton spanked you eh? Clearly he’s right though isn’t he? I mean how can it be fair to have a club in the Champions League when they might have finished several points adrift? It’s not as if Liverpool have ever qualified in 4th spot with such a gulf between them and 3rd place is it….Oh no wait….
Anyway, enough of the hypocrisy because right on cue, we have the usual Rafa rant as he goes on “Maybe we can do the same with the teams at the bottom of the table. If you finish fourth maybe you could play with the team who finished third from the bottom (er, aren’t they called play-offs in every other league?). Then during the whole season we can play 50 games and we don’t have to rest so that will be fantastic. We can be in the office analysing the fixtures and creating different schedules and different things and the players will be injured. If we continue playing games we will end up playing three games a week – which is fantastic for the television companies. We are playing too much now. They were talking about the 39th game being played in Asia so if we now play the play-offs we will be playing until the end of the century.”
Ok, ok, you get his drift? No? Good job he keeps going then….”I think we have to be realistic. We have too many injuries in all the European top sides because we play too many games, we have too many games during the year, too many competitions with the World Cup, Confederations Cup, African Cup and now we want to play more games. When? I don’t know when and I don’t see the point to play. So I think we have to continue with the team that finishes in fourth position and that’s it.”
Have to admit he lost me a bit in the end with the Confederations Cup and African Cup of Nations (which obviously have a huge impact on Liverpool) because surely we’re just talking about a couple of play-off games here, not some new competition to be added to the football calendar but at a guess I’d say he won’t be giving the whole idea the thumbs up!