Monday, 1 June 2009

Sammy Lee says Madrid match was a watershed moment

Liverpool assistant manager Sammy Lee has given a fantastic interview to today’s Times. Lee has been a marvel this past season with the Reds and I think is certainly a contributing factor to the team’s progress on the pitch. “It’s not a job, it’s a vocation” says the ex player, signed by Bob Paisley in 1976. Now as Rafa’s assistant he has every Uefa Pro Licence available “I’ve got every qualification you can get,” he said. Rafael Benitez clearly saw the passion Lee holds for Liverpool Football Club when they met, but also his ability to Speak Rafa’s native language must have been a plus, “My Spanish isn’t great but it’s better than my English – Rafa says that,” Lee said.

Lee, who was appointed by Benitez a year ago, opted not to stay at the club he loved when Gérard Houllier’s regime exited. He instead chose to become part of Sven’s England set up in 2004. “I was the only one who wasn’t sacked,” Lee said. “I left of my own accord. I felt if I was an integral part of the success in that regime, then I was an integral part of the failure. I felt it was the honourable thing to do.”

But Lee had unfinished business with the club and when he was dismissed as manager of Bolton Wanderers, he again met Rafa whilst watching a Liverpool reserve match together. Speaking about his loyalty to the manager Lee said “Rafa has the club solely at heart so I have no problem having a great loyalty to him. He is the best man for this job, so there is no conflict of interest. If my beliefs were radically different to Rafa’s, then he wouldn’t employ me. I know he’s the best man to guide this club to the success it deserves.”

Speaking about the incident that caused such a stink with Alex Ferguson and Sam Allardyce, lee says: “If I didn’t believe that was the right thing to do then we’d have to part company,” he said. “On the door it says ‘Assistant Manager’ and I’ll assist Rafa in any way, shape or form. I know what went on on the day and it had nothing to do with the opposition. The Liverpool way is to fight our corner when necessary. It is also about respect and humility.”

Lee also gives an insight in to what makes Rafa the man, dismissing that preparation under Benitez is all about statistics; does he have intuition? “He’s got that,” Lee said. “People don’t know that about Rafa, they think he’s analytical but he’s a very emotional man, a very caring man, a family man. He has his gut feelings,” he said. “In football you have to be adaptable. He’s got intuition and that ability to change things. He knows what he wants but he can see things in the course of 45 or 90 minutes. He bounces things off us. It’s a consensus of opinion. That’s the good thing about the man; he listens to people and the great men do.”

Lee also speaks about the incredible run Liverpool went on from March to the end of the season, scoring 43 goals in the last 14 games: “Post Madrid, there was a surge of confidence, having beaten one of the best clubs in the world. If any of the players had any sort of doubts, then those games gave them an added sense of belief. Maybe it was a watershed moment for many.”

Lets hope the confidence and belief continues into next season

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