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19th Sep 2016

Rafa Benitez has gone all Eric Cantona with bizarre lions and mice analogy

At least he had the good grace to explain it this time...

Simon Lloyd

Every now and then, things can become a bit lost in translation in the multinational world that is football.

Y’know, Cantona banging on about seagulls, sardines and trawlers… that sort of thing.

One man who appears to know this more than most is Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez. Not forgetting that Rafa probably speaks better English than most of us speak Spanish, it’s fair to say that every now and then, some of his expressions leave us scratching our heads.

Take what he said in response Roy Hodgson’s criticism of his transfer dealings at Liverpool back in 2010, for example.

Hodgson, who was at the helm at Liverpool during the 2010-2011 season, criticised some of the “expensive failures” in his squad who had been signed during Benitez’s tenure at the club.

“Some people cannot see a priest on a mountain of sugar,” Benitez responded.

Although it might have left a few puzzled expressions at that particular press conference, it soon came to light that this was a Spanish way of saying that Hodgson wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped him in the face. Priests traditionally dress in black; sugar is white. Therefore it would be easy to spit a priest if he were standing on a hill of sugar.

AS Roma v SSC Napoli - Serie A

Fast forward six years, and Rafa’s latest Spanish idiom might has also caused a bit of confusion.

“Sometimes you prefer to be the tail of the lion or the head of the mouse,” Rafa remarked ahead of his side’s Football League Cup tie with Wolves.

Fortunately, on this occasion, he was good enough to explain what exactly he meant.

“When you’re in the Premier League and you are at the bottom, you are the tail of the lion. Some people are happy being the tail of the lion but some people prefer to be the head of the mouse.”

Ah, now we get it.

Newcastle’s defeat at the hands of Wolves in the league over the weekend mean that they are currently third in the Championship, four points adrift of Huddersfield Town who are top head of the mouse.