Rafa has only had one season in the English Premier League, but I think he is a quick learner, and will improve on last season's performance. With regards to Liverpool not paying the asking price for Owen, then I fail to see the logic in paying £17M for a player Liverpool were forced to release last year for £8M because he wanted to leave (and would have left on a free transfer this year had he stayed). Liverpool tried to keep him then and to extend his contract. It is a bit much to expect the club to throw double money around now to bring him back. A £9M bill for a player's one season sortie into Europe is a bit much for anyone. Besides the money, a particular consideration relates to loyalty and fair mindedness on both parts between the clubs and the players. Financial lesson no. 1 Michael was attracted by the glitter of Real Madrid, but in truth, he was given very little first team opportunity. His commercial value to the club no doubt paid off his £8M transfer fee and he spent most of his time on the bench (Didn't somebody called McManaman do that as well?). Real Madrid are now clearly better at spotting a commercial opportunity than they are good at winning the Champions' League Financial lesson no. 2 With many voices bleating about how much Liverpool wanted him back, and with Michael blurting that he did not want to sit on the bench at Real for the coming season, it became very easy for Real to manipulate the situation and to say that they wanted to keep him, but that he would be on the bench, unless some team came along and offered silly money...... Liverpool couldn't win (never been able to say that before).
Throughout the saga, Rafa has kept his counsel and remained dignified and discreet, no doubt aware all along that 'noise' would only play into the hands of Real Madrid, who are the only clear winners in this sorry saga.