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Rafa Benitez 'worst ever' signing had forgotten key role in Liverpool glory

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It’s fair to say that is how a sizeable proportion of Liverpool supporters would regard Antonio Nunez, if they can remember him at all that is with his name usually only mentioned in ‘worst Liverpool XIs’.

One of the biggest initial tasks in his in-tray was to deal with the ongoing situation regarding star striker Michael Owen's future.

Despite the Spanish attacking midfielder already having been on then-Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez's radar, it is technically correct to describe him as a makeweight as his transfer to Anfield - valued at £1.5m - was part of the deal which took Michael Owen to Real Madrid in August 2004.

After an undistinguished playing career and inauspicious start to management with Real Madrid Castilla, Valladolid, Osasuna and Extremadura, Rafael Benitez had taken Tenerife into the top flight before moving to Valencia and temporarily breaking the hegemony of Real Madrid and Barcelona, bringing two La Liga titles to the Estadio Mestalla in 2002 and 2004 as well as the UEFA Cup in 2004.

The Portuguese coach, whose stock was rapidly rising after leading FC Porto to UEFA Cup and Champions League triumphs in successive seasons, was reportedly considered by the Liverpool hierarchy as Houllier’s replacement but they ultimately plumped for the other top young coach who had also been making serious waves across Europe in recent seasons.

READ MORE: Liverpool have got it right about Jarrod Bowen and £89m duo prove it READ MORE: Five new images of Liverpool's stadium development as Anfield Road End takes shape Gerard Houllier’s five and a half year reign in sole charge had ended in the sad and rare spectacle of a sacked manager holding a leaving press conference, the glittering promise of the 2001 Treble and Premier League runners-up spot the following year fading drastically after the Frenchman’s life-threatening heart problems with the bare minimum expectation of Champions League qualification only achieved in the final week of his final campaign in charge.

Liverpool as a club were in (another) serious state of transition back in the summer of 2004.
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