Benitez 'helpless' as thrashing compounds slow start in China
Rafael Benitez won the Champions League with Liverpool and coached Real Madrid, but the scale of the task he confronts in China was laid bare this week in humiliating fashion.
The highly regarded Spaniard suffered one of the heaviest defeats of his managerial career when Dalian Yifang were thrashed 5-1 on Wednesday in the Chinese Super League (CSL).
Going into Sunday's final day of the season, Dalian are 10th of 16 teams, the same position as when Benitez took over in July.
They have won once in their last nine matches in all competitions.
"This is a game that I don't quite understand," an angry Benitez said following the heavy loss at relegation-threatened Tianjin Tianhai, accusing his players of giving up.
Benitez, who has also managed Valencia, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli and Newcastle United, enjoyed a good start at Dalian but results have tailed off markedly.
The 59-year-old, who is constantly linked with a return to the English Premier League, averages 1.31 points from his 16 games in China, according to transfermarkt.com.
That is his poorest return since he was in charge at CF Extremadura in Spain 20 years ago, near the start of his managerial career.
Benitez, who took Liverpool to the Champions League title in 2005, looked "helpless and frustrated" after Tianjin's fifth goal, Soccer News said.
Fans and Dalian's owners, the conglomerate Wanda Group, were entitled to expect better from a team that includes Salomon Rondon, Yannick Carrasco and Marek Hamsik, the publication added.
"If Dalian... want to talk about rejuvenation and rebuilding glory, it is almost a fantasy," Soccer News said, labelling the Tianjin defeat "tragic".