Where Is Rafael Benitez?

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Now that the world’s best football coaches or managers have agreed to converge in the English Premier League (EPL) to trade wits, tactics and strategies against each other, one would expect the role-call to include all top coaches who are still active in the game. Unfortunately, everyone except for Rafael Benitez is present. Where the corner-kick is he? Rafael Benitez, better known as “Rafa” or “Rafa the Gaffer” or whom I prefer to refer to as the greatest soccer coaching fluke ever, is currently Missing In Relevant Action (M.I.R.A.). The English Premier League a.k.a. EPL is currently brimming with the best coaches in the world except for Mauricio Pochettino who left the EPL recently to take up the exalted post at PSG, Zinedine ‘Zizou’ Zidane who is still performing wonders at the Bernabeau by keeping Messi’s Barcelona in check since Ronaldo left and of course Diego Simeone who continues to be a crazy thorn to all La Liga and non-La-Liga teams. Of course, we have other world-class coaches in other leagues plying their trade and such great names include: Ronald Koeman at FC Barcelona Claudio Ranieri @ U.C. Sampdoria Diego Conte @ Inter Milan FC Hansi Flick @ Bayern Munich Talking local, the EPL currently boasts of all the largest gathering of world-class coaches ever seen in soccer league since the late 90s and early 2000s when the Serie A had the best coaches present then. Today, if you want to claim soccer coaching bragging rights and you are not currently managing Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich Juventus or PSG and you are neither in the EPL as a Team Manager nor even as a Team Assistant Coach, please just take a melodious hike and smoke your shisha in isolation. The EPL is currently the undisputed biggest soccer league in the world based on its transactional value, its competitive nature and the also based pedigree of coaches that are selected to manage the 20 teams that trade tackle in this entertaining football league every year. The biggest managers currently making the EPL more fun for all soccer fans and sports betting disciples around the globe can be categorized into three different groups or levels based on their profile and stats. We will proceed with that roll call of these groups from top to bottom (Group A to Group C) with no malice meant in the order of appearance of these great managers’ names. GROUP A: Carlo Ancelotti @ Everton FC Jose Mourinho @ Tottenham Hotspur FC Pep Guardiola @ Manchester City FC Jurgen Klopp @ Liverpool FC CLASS B: Sam Allardyce @ West Bromwich Albion FC Frank Lampard @ Chelsea FC Nuno Espírito Santo @ Wolverhampton Wanderers FC David Moyes @ West Ham FC Mikel Arteta @ Arsenal FC Ole Gunnar Solskjær @ Manchester United FC Brendan Rodgers @ Leicester City FC Marcelo Bielsa @ Leeds United FC Mark Hughes @ Southampton FC CLASS C: Roy Hodgson @ Crystal Palace FC Steve Bruce @ Newcastle United FC Sean Dyche @ Burnley FC And et al No disrespect to any names that were erroneously omitted from the quick shortlist presented above. One sour thumb that stands out is that Rafael Benitez’s name did not pop up on any of those lists even if he was in a relegation-bound team in the Austrian Soccer League. I guess it easy to presume he must have taken a National Team Coach position since we left Newcastle FC in 2019 when his contract expired and no renewal was offered. However, that is not his case. Below is a list of top football managers who have navigated their careers to the manage national soccer teams of different nations. No malice meant for great names omitted (if any). Frank de Boer @ Netherlands Luis Enrique @ Spain Marco Rossi @ Hungary Roberto Mancini @ Italy Gareth Southgate @ England Roberto Martinez @ Belgium Andriy Shevchenko@ Ukraine Janne Andersson @ Sweden Didier Deschamps @ France Joachim Low @ Germany Zlatko Dalić @ Croatia Unfortunately, Sir Rafa Benitez did not make this honorable list. So where can he be? Certainly, there is no way one would win 1 FIFA World Club Cup Title....

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