Expect more speculation to start

Any stories involving Liverpool during the latter days of the transfer window seemed to always refer to Real Madrid at some point, as Liverpool tried hard to find a way of negotiating a deal for Michael Owen to return to Anfield. When Michael eventually gave up waiting and signed for Newcastle we thought that might be the last we’d hear of them for a while. After all, the transfer window has now closed, so we can’t do any business with the Spanish side can we?

Unfortunately the transfer window only applies to playing staff, and so we expect stories linking Rafael Benitez with a move back to Spain to become Real’s next coach to start any day now.

Current Real Madrid coach, Wanderley Luxemburgo, was the only coach during Michael Owen’s season-long stay in Spain to actually make any real use of the player, during a run where Real actually seemed to be turning things round. Millions of Euros later the coach is having trouble – three defeats in a week is not something he can expect to keep him in his job.

On September 10th Celta Vigo won 3-2 at the Bernabeu. During the week it was Champions League action – and formers Reds boss Gerard Houllier guided his team to a 3-0 win. By the time they played Barcelona’s neighbours Espanyol the last thing Luxemburgo needed was the 1-0 defeat. Especially with Real’s own neighbours Atletico beating Barcelona the same day.

Next up is a home game against Athletic Bilbao, but with two players suspended he’ll have to make changes – Sergio Ramos and Julio Baptista were both sent off last night.

Thursday’s match may see a debut for Jonathon Woodgate, a year after he signed for Madrid. Anything other than a victory will see Real’s president looking for a new boss. And the most popular coach in Spain right now is Real’s former youth coach, Rafa Benitez.

It’s absolutely impossible to know what would happen if Real did come calling, but it won’t stop the media from claiming to "know" certain things. Expect stories of how Rafa was disappointed at having to keep Steven Gerrard, unhappy at having to try and bring Michael Owen back, unhappy at not having the parking space he’d asked for at Melwood and disappointed that there still hasn’t been an improvement in the weather.

If anything makes Rafa leave Anfield, it’s the lure of managing the club he’s always supported. To do so would mean leaving behind the freedom to be his own man that he has at Anfield. In our opinion he’ll not accept an offer from Real, preferring to stay at Anfield long enough to bring home that elusive league title.

Just don’t be too hasty to believe any stories about Rafa just yet. The cricket’s gone off, the transfer window’s closed and there’s a gap in England games. They need something to talk about, even if they do make a lot of it up!