In our story, yesterday, we predicted that speculation claiming that Rafa Benitez was wanted by Real Madrid would start any time soon. We thought it may take until the weekend for it to begin, with two clashes against Chelsea coming up after the Birmingham game, but it’s actually started already.
The Daily Mirror seems to be the first English paper to go with the story, claiming "EXCLUSIVE: REAL WANT RAFA" and "Desperate Madrid plot to Kop Benitez".
As we said yesterday, no need to panic at all about this. It’s always going to be Rafa’s decision ultimately, and if he announces in the wake of all the speculation that he wants to remain at Anfield then it will give the European Champions an even bigger boost than when Steven Gerrard announced his decision to sign a new contract.
Just don’t expect the newspapers to let the story go until Real appoint a new manager.
* The story in the Mirror is written by Chief Football Writer Martin Lipton. This is the journalist who claimed in July that the reason for the breakdown in the Gerrard talks over the summer was because of an argument between the coach and the captain. He reported – incorrectly – at the time: "The England midfielder’s relationship with Rafa Benitez broke down completely during an angry exchange at the club’s Melwood training ground." Despite everything that did happen during those turbulent days, the bust-up at the training ground was one event that did not take place. Once again, don’t panic!