Rafa Benitez’s darkest chapter at NHL Jerseys Liverpool just got worse after the Reds were eliminated from this season’s Champions League, while Louis van Gaal’s Bayern live another day.
These two managers make for interesting reading, as the pair currently hold posts at two of the biggest clubs in Europe, where success is demanded and failure to deliver such expectations yields unprecedented amounts of pressure.
Indeed, following Fiorentina’s 1-0 win over Olympique Lyon on Tuesday, Liverpool were mathematically out of the running for the top two in Group E, and thus eliminated.
Liverpool boss Benitez has been under plenty of pressure with this elimination always likely after a slow start. But combine that with the Reds league woes and it’s clear the Spaniard is struggling for fans.
Van Gaal, similarly as a foreigner in a big European league, is under pressure in Bavaria.
The Dutchman hasn’t convinced since arriving in Germany, but his side’s 1-0 victory over Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday means they remain in the Champions League hunt.
But it won’t be easy for Bayern.
The Munich club must travel to Turin and defeat Juventus to qualify for the next round of the Champions League.
The Old Lady are currently second in Italy’s Serie A and seem determined to make a mark in Europe, so it will hardly be simple for Bayern.
But the good news for van Gaal is his team are still alive (for now, at least), unlike Benitez’s.
Nevertheless, Liverpool’s managing director Christian Purslow has reassured the Spaniard his role is safe despite the club’s early Champions League exit.
“This has no bearing on Rafa whatsoever," Purslow revealed.
"He only signed a new five-year deal eight months ago and in those terms he is four months into a five-year journey. You don't deviate from long-term plans for people.
"We budget for a level of performance where, let's just say, as football fans is not where we would all want to be. We are prudent in what we budget.
"If we go into the Europa League and have three home games, we are financially equivalent on what we budgeted to achieve in the Champions League.
"Obviously, it feels terribly disappointing, but we could have gone into the next round of the Champions League, played one home leg, one away leg and been out," Purslow added.
"I like to think we'll be taking 40 or 50,000 to Hamburg in May (for the Europa League final), and if we get half-way to doing that, we will make more money than we would have from the next round of the Champions League.
"It's a missed opportunity financially, but it has no effect on budgeted performance and that's the key thing."
Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer, too, offered plenty of support to his embattled coach.
"Louis Van Gaal is an old hand and he has already been through many a battle," Beckenbauer told Sat 1 television.
Speaking about the Bundesliga prior to the winter break, as well as the Champions League, Beckenbauer added, "I hope that he also wins this battle. Our remaining games are all winnable and it doesn't look that bad at all really."
And while the head honchos at these massive clubs publicly remain calm and supportive, there’s no doubt there’s a few worried exchanges behind the scenes.
Failures like these can not be treated with ignorance.
It may not happen just yet, but the warning signs are there and change could be abound soon at two of Europe’s biggest and proudest clubs.