Belfast Telegraph

Rafa Benitez had to leave Liverpool, admits Dalglish

By Tim Rich

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish has said it was right that Rafael Benitez left Liverpool in the summer and that he feels no sense of hurt that he was not chosen to succeed him as manager.

Dalglish, who has not managed since leaving Celtic a decade ago, put himself forward as a contender to return to the job he quit in February, 1991 when exhausted by the demands of constant success and the weight of the Hillsborough disaster.

“Rafa was right to go,” he said of the man who appointed him as club ambassador last year. “It was time for him to move onwards. He changed jobs, everyone changes jobs, and he changed when the time was right.

“He began magnificently here, winning the European Cup and the FA Cup but, like everything else, there is a sell-by date. His leaving was beneficial for both parties and that is not to undermine what he did or what he brought.”

Perhaps mindful that his return to Parkhead had not been a success, Dalglish's application was given short shrift by Christian Purslow. Liverpool's managing director said he wanted Dalglish, whose relationship with the Kop is that of an unalloyed hero, to continue to be the club's public face, advise the academy and be given more responsibility for player development. The latter is still to come to pass.

“I have not been given an extended role but that is not to say I wouldn't want one — but the delay is totally understandable when you see what Liverpool have been through recently with a new manager coming in and players being moved out,” said Dalglish, who yesterday launched his account of his 33-year relationship with the club, entitled My Liverpool Home.

Meanwhile, Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he had to step in and stop Dimitar Berbatov beating himself up about his Manchester United performances.

“Not everyone has questioned Dimitar,” said Ferguson. “He has a lot of admirers, particularly at this club. But when we buy a player for a lot of money, there is more focus on him. If they have an odd bad game there is a criticism which other players may not get.

“He worried about it himself, however, as I told him, he has to dismiss the press. Dimitar has had some terrific games for us. He is enjoying his football and he will play on Sunday.”

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