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Benitez Warns Alonso on Liverpool Job

Rafa Benitez, former manager of Liverpool FC, has lauded Xabi Alonso’s tactical prowess amid mounting speculation linking the Bayer Leverkusen boss to a potential managerial role at Anfield. However, Benitez cautioned Alonso against hastily accepting such a position.

Alonso, who has guided Bayer Leverkusen to the summit of the Bundesliga this season, has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool’s manager.

During his tenure as a player at Liverpool under Benitez’s stewardship, Alonso played a pivotal role as the linchpin of the midfield, notably contributing to the club’s historic Champions League victory in 2005.

Benitez acknowledged Alonso’s adeptness at reading the game, highlighting his potential to excel as a coach. Yet, Benitez tempered expectations, suggesting that the fervor surrounding Alonso’s potential appointment as Liverpool’s manager may be inflated by the social media era.

“He was clever and analysed,. When you explain things to some players, you have to repeat. Xabi was one who learned quickly,” Benitez said of Alonso, recalling a quarter-final against Juventus during that run to the Champions League final.

“They had Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alessandro Del Piero up front with Pavel Nedved between the lines. We had to play with three centre-backs. I changed to play 5-3-1-1, with Milan Baros up front, Igor Biscan and Antonio Núñez [in midfield] with Xabi in the middle. I told Xabi: ‘Stay in the middle! Don’t move!’ Because he couldn’t run. ‘Núñez will run! Warnock will run! You stay there! Be sure you protect the centre-backs from Nedved.” Alonso played the role perfectly and Liverpool drew 0-0.

“Tactically we did everything really well but the [key] thing was to recover Xabi quickly to make sure he could play as holding midfielder.

Rafa Benitez (centre) has praised his former player Xabi Alonso (second from right) (Getty Images)
“He’s a big name, good professional, good lad, clever, doing really well so I understand why [Alonso is being linked with Liverpool]. [But] imagine Steven Gerrard was around and doing well. Then it would be: ‘Gerrard!’ With social media everything is going too fast so that people don’t see the big picture.”

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