In his interview, Benitez stated:
"Keane is a good player but we had to sell him because he was not playing at the level we knew he could play".
With the constant substitutions; playing Keane on the wing; forcing him into an unfamiliar role/system and dropping him every time he scored goals, how exactly was Keane supposed to achieve a consistent level of play?!
Let’s take a look at the facts:
Substituted: 18 out 23 starts
On the bench: 5 times
Unused sub: 5 times
Subbed between 50th + 70th minutes: 9 times
Subbed between 70th + 80th minutes: 8 times
Total Minutes on pitch: 1946
Average minutes on pitch: 69
*Goal every 389 minutes
*Goal/assist every 176 minutes
*Goal/assist every 2.5 appearances
COMPARISON: DIRK KUYT(2008-9)
Minutes on pitch: 4509
Average minutes on pitch: 89
Starts: 48 (51 appearances in total)
*Goal every 322 minutes
*Goal/assist every 204 minutes
*Goal/assist every 2.3 appearances
* Keane subbed/on the bench in 82% of appearances (23 out of 28)
* Subbed in 78% of starts (18 out of 23)
* Only allowed to actually complete a game 5 times
* Higher goals/assist per minute ratio than Dirk Kuyt
* Subbed 17 times between the 50th and 80th minutes - crucial periods in which Keane could've scored/created more goals (Just remember how many late goals we scored last season)
Additionally, whenever Keane scored goals it never seemed to make a difference:
Oct 1: Scores v PSV
Dropped the next game
Oct 22: Scores v Atletico Madrid
Subbed next game after 59 minutes.
Nov 8: Scored 2 against West Brom
Subbed next game after 59 minutes
Dec 26: Scored 2 v Bolton
Dropped the next game
How can any player prosper under such conditions?
How exactly is a player supposed to settle in, build up confidence and gain an understanding with his team-mates when he is ALWAYS BEING SUBSTITUTED/DROPPED?
Benitez's job is to utilise Liverpool's assets in the best way possible to benefit the TEAM. Did he do this with Robbie Keane? I submit that the answer is no.
Look at Kuyt's stats for last season; despite the fact he started 99% of games, his figures - balanced over the season - are not much better than Keane's. The difference is Kuyt had the total faith of the manager, and even when he had a bad spell, Benitez kept starting him.
Example: Nov 2008 to March 2009: Kuyt started 21 games and managed 2 goals and 1 assist in that time. Despite that, he continued to start every game
Now, I was not a fan of Keane's purchase to begin with, but whilst he was at Anfield, he should have been treated fairly. In light of the stats above, can it be credibly argued that he was treated fairly?
Throughout his career, Keane has been a consummate professional, and when played in the right role, he has delivered the goals and contributed to the team. Yet all of a sudden, at Liverpool, this premiership-proven player suddenly became a failure?!
Now, Benitez - in his infinite gall - has once again tried to shift the blame to Keane for not doing the business at Anfield. What he should be doing is accepting accepting some responsibility for his part in the whole fiasco.
With the right man-management, Keane could have been a great player for Liverpool. And given the stats above, I just do not see how it can be argued that Keane was given a fair chance.
And let's not forget that Liverpool were top of the table when Keane left the club - Dirk Kuyt's fan-club always go on about how much he contributes to the team in terms of defending etc. What about Keane's contribution? He undoubtedly played a part in getting Liverpool to the top of the table.
Yes, Keane could have done better with the time he had on the pitch but it's hard to produce your best form when you're demotivated, and have a manager who clearly has no faith in you.
Ultimately, I agree with Benitez on one thing: Keane was not playing at his usual level. However, there were reasons for that, and in my view, the principal reason was Benitez's mishandling/questionable man-management of the player.
Keane - and Liverpool - deserved a hell of a lot better.
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Source : http://www.liverpool-kop.com/2009/11/im-sorry-rafa-but-robbie-keanes-failure.html