On This Day in 2004 - Rafa Benitez appointed Liverpool manager

Rafa Benitez unveiled as Liverpool manager

Little did Liverpool fans know what would follow in their first season under the Spaniard.

Rafa Benitez unveiled as Liverpool manager

After a disappointing season where Liverpool finished 30 points behind champions Arsenal, the Reds decided to make a change of management at Anfield.

Despite managing to qualify for the Champions League, Gerard Houllier was sacked as Reds boss, with the Reds turning to Spain for their new manager. Rafa Benitez was his name - a man who had recently won his second La Liga title and the UEFA Cup with Valencia. 

It was a bold appointment, but it would not see much of an improvement in their league form with the Reds finishing two points worse off than the previous season and in fifth position, with the side missing out on the League Cup after an extra-time defeat to Chelsea in the final. There was also the embarrassing FA Cup exit to Burnley, but there were one or two positive displays in the league which saw wins over Arsenal and Everton.

But it was the Champions League triumph that was the most unexpected and glorious victory they could have hoped to have had in the Spaniard's first season - as night's against Olympiakos, Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea were all enshrined into Anfield folklore - while the triumph over AC Milan in Istanbul is still talked about to this day with great fondness. The chances are that will never be forgotten.

Here are some images from Benitez's first season in charge of the Reds: 

Rafa Benitez during first league game in charge of LiverpoolRafa Benitez during first league game in charge of Liverpool

Xabi Alonso and Javier Luis Garcia with manager Rafael BenitezXabi Alonso and Javier Luis Garcia with manager Rafael Benitez

Neil Mellor celebrates winning goal v Arsenal - 2004Neil Mellor celebrates winning goal v Arsenal - 2004

Steven Gerrard winner v Olympiakos - 2004/5Steven Gerrard winner v Olympiakos - 2004/5

Djimi Traore own goal v Burnley - 2005Djimi Traore own goal v Burnley - 2005

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez v Burnley - 2005Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez v Burnley - 2005

Luis Garcia scores opening goal v Leverkusen - 2005Luis Garcia scores opening goal v Leverkusen - 2005

2005 league cup final - Chelsea celebrate, Gerrard dejected2005 league cup final - Chelsea celebrate, Gerrard dejected

Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho at 2005 league cup finalRafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho at 2005 league cup final

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard scores against Everton in 2005Liverpool's Steven Gerrard scores against Everton in 2005

Liverpool's Rafael Benitez applauds the fans after victory over Everton - 2005Liverpool's Rafael Benitez applauds the fans after victory over Everton - 2005

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez and Juventus manager Fabio CapelloLiverpool manager Rafael Benitez and Juventus manager Fabio Capello

Luis Garcia - Liverpool scores his goal for 2-0Luis Garcia - Liverpool scores his goal for 2-0

Luis Garcia scores against Chelsea - 2005Luis Garcia scores against Chelsea - 2005

Rafa Benitez winks v Chelsea - May 2005Rafa Benitez winks v Chelsea - May 2005

Liverpool Manager Rafael Benitez and Steven Gerrard celebrate winning the Champions League with the TrophyLiverpool Manager Rafael Benitez and Steven Gerrard celebrate winning the Champions League with the Trophy

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