Liverpool are bouncing from bad to worse. Sure, they saw off Leicester City, but beating a last-place side isn't exactly a reason for celebration. They're fresh off a 3-0 loss to Manchester United, and after drawing with Basel last week, they've been booted down to Europa League. And with Brendan Rodgers' strange lineup decisions, many fans are now clamoring for a new man on the bench.
One of the names most often mentioned is that of Napoli manager Rafa Benítez. Napoli, too, haven't been having the best of seasons, especially considering they, like Liverpool, were tipped to challenge for the title. Instead, after the weekend's loss to Milan, they're down in 7th, having not won in four league games. The failure to make it to the Champions League group stage angered fans, and they're still not showing their full support to the side.
So considering Napoli's standing in Serie A, it's fairly reasonable to assume that Rafa might be walking a fine line. In fact, Aurelio De Laurentiis already threatened to fire him once, saying if he didn't take nine points from three fixtures he was out. Well, Napoli managed seven, but they beat Roma and that was enough to save Rafa's job.
Now the Napoli owner is proclaiming Benítez's job to be safe. More than safe, in fact. De Laurentiis called Rafa "unquestionably extraordinary" and said that the manager would be in Naples for a long time to come.
Sure, this is calcio, and often we see owners lauding a manager one day -- one hour, even -- and sacking him before the sun has set. But you get the sense De Laurentiis is being genuine. Napoli, more than anything, look like they can use a rest. They've hit some bad luck with injuries, but the transfer window is soon to open and they can bring in a couple reinforcements. The Champions League next season isn't out of reach, nor is winning the Europa League.
It looks like Rafa is a long-term project for Napoli. Now, the fans need to accept that -- and to trust that De Laurentiis isn't going to throw him out in a flare of anger.