Ex-Liverpool and Arsenal winger Pennant lays into Newcastle boss Benitez

Former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant has gone in two-footed on current Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez.

Pennant played under Benitez during his time at Anfield, and didn’t have the best experience under the Spaniard.

In his book Mental: Bad Behaviour, Ugly Truths and the Beautiful Game, Pennant blasts Benitez for his constant instructions and micromanagement from the sidelines.


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Pennant struggled with life under Rafa Benitez

He wrote: “On the pitch, often I can see what’s best. Ultimately you have to trust the players once they cross the white line. But with Rafa, it was constant directions.

“Just sometimes, he might as well have turned a player into an Xbox, dressed me up like RoboCop and put a picture of my face on it. I’m not a defensive midfielder. I’m not James Milner, who keeps it simple. I’m a flair player and do my own thing. But his constant instructions really restricted me. They stopped me from being free. He could never let me do my thing.

“When you have so many instructions, it makes it so difficult. You’ve got some instructions and tactics in your mind and yet he’s shouting even more at you. All of a sudden you’re confused. You’ve got two sets of instructions in your mind and you’re left wondering what to do. It means that, suddenly, you mess up with a simple pass because your mind is all over the place. Honestly, Rafa was a nightmare like that.”

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Pennant spent between 2006 and 2009 at Liverpool, and struggled to get to grips with Benitez’s training methods.

“There were times when I would get so angry about how boring and repetitive training was that I would just lose it and shout, ‘For f**k’s sake – just give us a bit of a five-a-side!’

“As a player, you just want a bit of fun, to make training good and lively. But, with Rafa, the training was so boring that you’d come in and all you’d want to do was slit your wrists! The amount of time in training that we’d do shape, tactics and nothing else!” With Rafa, it is all about himself. It was either his way or no way. The man management was down to his staff. That was why, when Pako Ayestarán (his assistant) went, they had a parting of the ways and things started to go downhill a bit.”

Pennant has since spent time at 10 clubs, including most recently Billericay Town. He’s also hitting the headlines recently as one of the contestants in this year’s Celebrity Big Brother.

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