We were awful when Benitez was here, we came 7th.
lets take this point as an example. You say we came 7th, and it was a shocking return for the league campaign. There is no denying that, i agree with you. But here is where we differ. my reasoning is that there are mitigating circumstances that caused our fall from grace. I've listed some reasons before and i'll do it again, but i'd like you to list yours, or perhaps comment on mine.
1. Hicks & Gilette selling our players and not investing in new ones
2. Purslow, Hicks & Gillette working behind the scenes to get rid of Rafa (Purslow was shadowing his every move, etc)
3. Alonso & Arbeloa's departure, and Rafa's attempt to create a more offensive orientated game
4. Injuries (Aquilani for instance barely played due in part to a misdiagnosis by the medical team, and that we signed him injured. There are reasons why this happened which have been discussed)
5. Many team members didnt turn up that season (Gerrard really stood out for this). It's easy to say Rafa should have motivated them. But refer to point #2. Purslow was making life very hard for Rafa, and reportedly had worked his way in with some squad members. Players would also have been affected by the turmoil surrounding the club.
6. The vile media campaign to oust Rafa, adds huge pressure, strongly supported by point #2.
7. Saving the club was more important that year that results, this may have played a part. It's hard to tell if Rafa looked at it this way.
8. Squad was bare thin, due to point #1. Insua was burned out by the end of the season and screwed by many "fans".
9. Atmosphere from many fans was poisonous, which served to support point #2 & #6. Many of us, were more concerned too with saving the club, as was Rafa.
10. A little speculative this one, but highly plausible. Exhaustion from the stress of what was going on, let alone the previous season. (Rafa, the team, etc)