Saturday, 17 October 2009

Benitez comes out fighting

Reds boss Rafael Benitez came out fighting yesterday amidst accusations in the tabloids claiming Liverpool's season could be over within the week. Today's Mail leads the baying pack with a typical exploitational headline, screaming: 'Rafa Benitez's crisis point, Liverpool season facing ruin'.

Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are both out of the Premiership clash against Sunderland today, but Benitez believes there is enough quality in his team to overcome Steve Bruce's side at the Stadium of Light this afternoon. The Anfield club have often been called a two man team incapable of enforcing any real damage in the Premiership without them. However it is often forgotten Liverpool beat Manchester United last season without starting Torres or Gerrard.

“It’s very early days (in the title race),” said Benitez. “It’s better to be six points ahead but the main thing is to keep going, keep working and keep doing things properly. We will see. I am sure we will improve. You have not seen the best of our players," said Benitez in the Echo.

“Would I take a draw (against Sunderland)? No. Not really. We are always thinking about taking three points from every single game. This one will be the same. We might not have Gerrard or Torres but we have Babel, Kuyt, a lot of options up front.”

“I think we have enough quality in the squad, so we have to manage,” he said. “Maybe we will play with different players or in a different way. Still we have confidence that we have quality in the squad. That is the situation.

“We have a lot of internationals here and it is more difficult to keep them fit but we will see how we can manage. We knew that this game could be very difficult, playing away on a Saturday after an international break. It is a difficult fixture.

“Now it is going to be more difficult but we maybe have to show more character and more quality. The main thing for us is to do our things properly. We have to play our game and make sure we control the key players of the other team.

“In some ways this game has been impossible to prepare for – Mascherano, Lucas and Insua have all been away. We have been waiting for them but maybe after the next international break we will be playing much better. We will improve.”

Jame Carragher will wear the captains arm band today in Steven Gerrard's absence. The 31-year-old defender has not been at his best form this season and some fans have expressed fears the player may have passed his best. Reds boss Benitez however still believes in his scouse centre back:

“Carra physically is okay,” said Benitez. “That is not a problem. People are saying ‘oh his age! oh his legs!’ but that is not the case. It is a question of confidence. When you make mistakes, normally the centre-backs and the keeper suffer more than the others.

“I’m sure now with more competition, with Carra, Skrtel and Agger fit, it will be better for the team. Players with character have to show this when they are under pressure. The only way to change things is to be on the pitch and prove that you are right.”

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