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"He's just caned me there!" | Inscrutable Rafa Benitez never suited Michael Owen

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

05:20 16 Sep 2019

Liverpool's star striker across his seven full seasons in the first-team, Michael Owen's 2004 departure coincided with the arrival of Rafa Benitez and an immediate incompatibility between the pair. 

Although it is not necessarily with the Spaniard that Owen places the responsibility for his move to Real Madrid, the former Ballon d'Or winner admitted that his brief spell working under Benitez demonstrated that the two were unlikely to get along.

"I remember pre-season," recalled Owen of 2004/05, "where we had gone to America when Rafa had taken over.

"We played a game against Celtic and I came off thinking, 'Oh, I've played well there. I've impressed the new gaffer.'

"Players were playing only half the game but I'd chipped the 'keeper, my link-up play was great and I thought I'd definitely impressed him."

Making his way off the pitch for the expected plaudits, Benitez, unlike other managers Owen had worked under, was more concerned with alternative aspects of the striker's performance.

"He just came over to me and said, 'Right, you're doing too much of this, too little of that, I want you getting in behind more...'

"I was just like, 'Ok, ok', and went back into my room with Jamie Carragher, 'One of the best performances I've probably ever put in, and he's just caned me there!'

"He has a very strange way of interacting with people, but it has obviously worked for him over time. Did I misjudge it? Probably, but I've never seen anything like him again, nor have the lads there."

Crucially, Michael Owen extended his bemused reaction to Benitez's characteristics to those experienced by two former teammates of his.

"Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher basically won the Champions League for him," he recalled, "and I don't think he's ever said 'Well done' or patted them on the back.

"That's just his character."

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Liverpool Michael Owen Newcastle United Premier League Real Madrid

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