NEW YORK -- By the time
And yet, in New York City last Thursday when Inter unveiled its new kit at Niketown for the upcoming season, the Benitez I met couldn't have been more different. Relaxed, beaming and happily settled into his new job and life in Milan, Benitez looked comfortable in his new role and excited to start anew. But when asked how he and his family were adjusting to life in Italy, there was still clearly a touch of melancholy about his time on Merseyside.
"They are still in England and so they still have time," he said. "We are looking around for a house [in Milan]. We're from Spain so I think we'll be OK [with the adjustment to Italy], but we were really happy in Liverpool, really pleased, but they think Milan will be a nice city.
"I am sure we will go [to Merseyside] on holidays, but I'd like to stay for a long time with Inter, which will mean that maybe we'll be successful. But we still have our house in England since we were really happy and the family were settled down there really well."
At Inter, Benitez couldn't have chosen a harder act to follow. Coming off a two-year span under Mourinho, the
"You have to also give credit to the players, because for years they had been winning already," Benitez said. "They were winning with [
Although the personnel remains largely the same (minus a couple of potential moves this week that could see forward
"The team is a good team, that is obvious, everyone knows this," he said. "The way that they played last season was good for them because they were winning. Talking with the players, speaking with a lot of people around the club, maybe we can improve a little bit on things and keep the things they were doing well. Part of this idea will be to have more possession if we can, so we will try."
As for former club Liverpool, there's no doubt that it retains a place in Benitez's heart, even after his acrimonious departure. On his way out, Benitez wished the team well and mentioned that he wasn't surprised to see star striker
Here are a few other things I'm thinking about this Monday morning:
At this point, Adu is probably best served coming back to MLS, earning some regular playing time, improving his game and possibly getting back into the U.S. national team picture. Whether any MLS team would be interested enough in him (he didn't exactly set the league on fire the first time around) to pony up the type of money that Adu is presumably looking for is another question. Granted, some MLS executives probably feel that Adu would still provide a solid draw for the U.S. audience, but how much they'd be willing to pay for that is debatable. On top of that, will Adu realize a return to MLS is in his best interests? Several players and executives I've spoken with in the past have always maintained that Adu's lack of maturity has also been a factor in holding him back.
There's no question that Henry is the best player signed by MLS, and if he avoids injury, he is destined to have a huge impact in the States. Let's not forget that he's a little more than a year (in non-soccer calendar terms) removed from recording 26 goals and 12 assists in a single season (2008-09) for Barcelona, at a time when he'd already lost that yard of pace that was such a trademark during his Arsenal days and adjusted his game accordingly.