Football

Robbie Keane explains why he struggled under Rafa Benitez

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Robbie Keane should have been a natural fit at Liverpool when he completed a £19million move from Tottenham in 2008.

After watching him enjoy such a formidable partnership with Dimitar Berbatov at White Hart Lane, Reds fans could hardly contain themselves at the prospect of the prolific goalscorer linking up with Fernando Torres.

The reality, of course, was very different as his stint at Anfield lasted just 189 days.

Rafa Benitez seemed unconvinced, perhaps unsurprisingly given that the former Republic of Ireland skipper found the back of the net just seven times in all competitions.

Within a matter of months, he had been sold back to Spurs, although his career never quite gathered momentum again and his next move took him to Celtic - another of his famous boyhood clubs - on loan.

Speaking to Graham Hunter of Pundit Arena, the 37-year-old has been reminiscing about his struggles on Merseyside.

While he was generally complimentary about Benitez, he did reveal one bone of contention with his former manager.

"He [Benitez] wanted to change me to a left winger," Keane said, quoted by the Liverpool Echo.

"I am clearly not a left winger, and that is obviously clear for everyone to see.

"The first 20 minutes [of a game] he wanted me to play left wing, and obviously I had never played it before, so it was new to me.

No wonder Keano struggled 

"When I did play up front I scored goals. But when I did play, I wasn't going to play the next day, which for a striker is very difficult.

"He tried to turn me into something I'm not, and that was always going to be a recipe for disaster as someone used to scoring goals."

Now with Newcastle United, it's fair to say Benitez has surprised a few people this season by guiding what looks like a thin Magpies squad to ninth after seven games.

Given his reputation at Liverpool, thanks chiefly to the Reds' Champions League win in 2005, it's hard to find many critics of the Spaniard associated with the club.

However, Keane, now with Indian outfit Atletico de Kolkata, isn't one of them, as he generally had kind words to say.

"I'm not a left-winger, as we've established from 20 years of playing football, but tactically he was probably one of the best I've worked with.

"He knows the game inside out."

Was Benitez at fault for Keane's failings at Liverpool? Have your say in the comments. 

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Topics:
Football
Steven Gerrard
Liverpool

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