Liverpool's defeat to Arsenal on Sunday showed a number of failings that have been building up for sometime at Anfield and now is surely the time for Rafa to go.
While they played well in the first half against Arsenal, they actually didn't create a great deal of chances and their 'good' play revolved around stopping Arsenal perform. Once Wenger had worked out what to do - give his players a bollocking at half time basically - Liverpool were made to look ordinary. And that's the word for Liverpool, ordinary. They have been for a few seasons.
Fans may tell you about that 4-1 win at Old Trafford last season, but it counted for nothing in the end, and the bore draws at Anfield in the months before were far more significant.
Alan Hansen tipped Liverpool for the title at the start of the year - a fact he seems to have forgotten now - and describes the situation now as "not nearly as good" as it should be. That's an understatement. For Liverpool to be scrambling around with Spurs and Aston Villa is not good enough, unless they're happy to be mediocre. That appears to be what many fans have accepted - because a top four finish is now an achievement.
So what's Rafa doing wrong? He started the season with everyone knowing that an injury to either Torres or Gerrard seriously depletes his side. No other top half contender is affected in such a way. United have lost Ronaldo - and are still competing. They've also had no Ferdinand, Vidic and other key players at times this season. Chelsea could lose Drogba and Lampard, but they wouldn't be as badly affected. Arsenal had Fabregas missing and have lost Van Persie, still to some extent competitive.
Of all the players benitez signed in the 2004-05 season, none are at Anfield anymore. In the 5 buying seasons since these are his arguably good purchases.
REINA - 6 Mill
CROUCH - 7 mill (then sold for 9 after 2 seasons)
AGGER - 5.8
BELLAMY - 6 Mill (then sold for 7.5 a season later)
KUYT - 9 mill
MASCHERANO - 19 mill
TORRES - 27 mill
I struggle to find many others. It's about a 15% success rate.
Compare that same period for Chelsea and Manchester Utd you will see a better quality of players - producing a strong squad.
I think Liverpool are the biggest victims of the Champions League bubble. Benitez has turned success in that tournament into a bigger priority than the league. Now he's out of the race in both what can he do. Better to bring in someone now and give them six months to work out what's wrong.
Liverpool fans have been patient - and that's to their credit - but it's time for change.
Okay you ask - who to replace him?
Mourinho's the obvious candidate and he'll be looking for a move to the Premier League in the summer. Steve Coppell anyone? Would he do any worse than Benitez? Walter Smith? Roy Hodgson? You might laugh, but I can't see any of those doing any worse. None of those I mention would have effectively one striker in their squad and buy a right back for 17 million that can't defend!
So when Reading knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup on Jan 2nd, it's goodbye Rafa!