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A Season on the Brink: Rafael Benitez, Liverpool and the Path to European Glory

Guillem Balague

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Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction

Biographical Portrait of Liverpool's Spanish football manager Rafael Benitez and an extraordinary season for the club.

When Rafael Benitez was appointed manager of under-achieving Liverpool at the start of the 2004-2005 season, the reaction from many fans was 'Who the hell is Rafael Benitez?'. A Spaniard with a wonderful record at Valencia was going to take over management of Liverpool's famous Boot Room and try and win over a disillusioned Kop.

But in one season, Benitez's importation of Spanish players, coaching methods and diet has led to a revolution, with the team ending the season winning the ultimate trophy for any European club - the European Champions League. No fan will ever forget the comeback from a 3-0 deficit to a 3-3 scoreline, then dramatic success in the penalty shoot-out. This is the story of Rafa's remarkable success.

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Guillem Balague

Guillem Balague is the author of Messi, Bar a, Pep Guardiola, A Season on the Brink, Cristiano Ronaldo, which won the British Sports Book Football Book of Year award in 2016, and Brave New World, his bestelling biography of Mauricio Pochettino. A key fixture of Sky Sports' coverage of Spanish football for many years, he now broadcasts on BBC Radio 5 Live and for LaLiga TV from Barcelona. He is also the UK Correspondent for AS, the Madrid-based Spanish sports newspaper, and El Larguero, Spain's most popular sports radio show. His work appears regularly in The Times and in Champions magazine, where he writes a regular column on international football. He is the Director of Football of Biggleswade United, and he won Influencer of the Year 2016 in the Football Blogging Awards.

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