Torres says sales have cost club

07 Apr 2010 by Lewis Doe in News
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres

Liverpool striker, Fernando Torres, has said that the club are paying the price for not replacing some of the best players the club have had.

Liverpool sold a couple of key players to Real Madrid last summer and Torres says the reason the side is struggling is because they have not been adequately replaced with consistent and quality players.

Torres is the biggest asset still at the club and there are rumours circulating daily that he could be tempted to move away from Liverpool this summer if the club don’t get back into the Champions League.

The Spaniard said: “There have been various important factors, like being so far behind the top teams so quickly. That killed us psychologically. After that, injuries hit us hard and we have suffered a lot because of them.”

“But after a good season last year, we needed certain reinforcements and we needed to keep the squad we had together. But circumstances dictated that we had to sell players and so everything got messed up. The sales of (Alvaro) Arbeloa, (Sami) Hyypia and (Xabi) Alonso were important losses.”

“Alvaro always did a vital job for us, always played to a high level, and his flexibility was a huge bonus. Sami did not play every week but he was a 10 out of 10 on and off the pitch. And Xabi? Players like him are very rare. He was the team’s engine, and you know that when you change an engine, it takes time to work again.”

“The biggest clubs in Europe always go through difficult spells where there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel. But because they are big clubs, they always come back and they do so with a vengeance. It is just a matter of time. Rafa signed a five-year contract last summer. He did that because he wants to help the club grow. Rafa’s new era is just starting.”

Liverpool will have to play consistently well for the rest if the season if they want any hope of being able to attract the best players to the club. This is something they have not done all season and there are no signs that this will change soon.

The side need to have faith in the manager and hope that he knows what he’s doing. The club are short in one or two areas of the team and this will have to be sorted out in the very near future.

If Torres goes or if Liverpool lose one more influential player then the club will quickly run into difficulties. They cannot afford this if they want to get back to the high Level they have just been at.

If the club was pitted against a Barcelona at the moment then they would get ripped apart and it is this gulf in quality that Rafa Benitez has got to get rid of as quickly as he can.

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Benitez worried about Torres

23 Feb 2010 by Lewis Doe in News

fernando-torresLiverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, hopes that his star striker, Fernando Torres, will be treated with care if he is called into action for Spain.

Spain are due to play France in the not too distant future and the Liverpool boss does not want his prize asset to be unnecessarily hurt in a meaningless game. It has been all too apparent just how important Torres is to Liverpool and an injury to him could see their top four push slide.

Torres has continued pledging his allegiance and support to the Liverpool cause but player around very good players at big clubs in the Spanish team could give him a flavour of something he may end up wanting on a more regular occurrence.

Benitez said: “Fernando is our player, working with our physios, but we have a good relationship with Fernando Hierro  [Spain's technical director], Del Bosque and Javier Minano [the fitness coach].”

“When people try to create a mess between Spain and us, remember that Del Bosque was the academy director at Real when I was an academy coach and I was his assistant for the first team. We have a really good relationship.”

“His fitness coach was my fitness coach in the Under 18s and the second team. He is my friend. Hierro was in the first team when I was assistant at Real and we had a very good relationship.”

“If I defend my players, it is because I have to, but we have very good communication with Spain.”

Torres gives Liverpool something that only he can do. The problem is if he does get hurt then they do not have someone with the same impact who can just step into the team and carry on where the Spaniard left off.

Only Steven Gerrard holds a similar sort of influence in the Liverpool team. Both of these players have been hit on and off with small injuries that have hampered them in playing terms and stopped Liverpool playing the football they became known for.

So far Dirk Kuyt has been leading the front line or either playing on the wing and neutrals all over the country will say what poor football the team has played, despite the fact they have managed to grind out a few results.

If Torres goes then Liverpool will not make the top four of the Premier League and will be stuck with a Europa League spot for next season. This means irregular games and more European nights, which will clog up an already busy fixture list.

They need to keep him fit and if that means the boss has to have a sly word with a couple of old friends then that is the only way that Liverpool can look. If he plays for Spain and scores great, if he plays for Spain and gets hurt, disaster.

Stories like this always appear near to international fixtures but in Liverpool’s case the consequences would just be too big to think about.

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Spanish Armada sinks to new low

20 Dec 2009 by Peter Morgan in Premier League 2009-2010

rafael-benitez-1There was no dropping to the knees in jubilation this time, there was no place in an elite cup final as a reward, nor was there an epic fight-back attempt from the opposition, but on Saturday Avram Grant once again inflicted defeat upon Rafael Benitez.

The Portsmouth boss was at the helm of the Chelsea side which battled to an aggregate 4-3 win over Liverpool in the Champions League semi finals in April 2008 and Grant was the brains behind the Reds’ latest setback in a wretched season as Pompey strolled to a 2-0 win at Fratton Park at the weekend.

Despite not showing the same emotion as he did on that successful night at Stamford Bridge, the win will mean every bit as much as he sets about his task of saving the club from the drop after taking over from Paul Hart late last month.

It was a battle of the Premier League’s two biggest crisis clubs as financial worries and on-field performances have marred both Liverpool’s and Portsmouth’s seasons, with the latter deservedly coming out on top on this occasion.

But it is the former who continue to raise eyebrows throughout the country as there seems no end to Liverpool’s dreadful form, which has seen them lose 7 of their 18 games Premier League games.

Catastrophic, I think, is the best word to describe the job Benitez has done this season and, bearing in mind the club suffered an early Champions League exit this time around, any other manager would have been sacked for their sequence of results by now.

The Spaniard’s lucrative and lengthy contract has so far saved him the embarrassment of getting the chop, that’s if he isn’t embarrassed enough by sinking to the new low of losing to the league’s basement club.

However, Benitez is not the only figure for which to point the finger at after their latest defeat – Javier Mascherano’s first-half red card may have been harsh, but it is the little Argentine’s poor form this season which has gone widely unnoticed.

The Argentina captain’s head was turned in the summer when European Champions Barcelona made their interest known, with reports of a £30million bid in January resurfacing on the back pages as the January transfer window approaches.

Mashcherano’s heart just does not seem in it anymore in a red shirt and he has done little this season to suggest he is worth that price tag, and I for one would bite Pep Guardiola’s hand off if he came in with an offer in that region.

Perhaps his four-match ban (it was his second red card of the season) coupled with a spell on the treatment table as the clumsy challenge, which earned him his marching orders and ligament damage, will prove a blessing in disguise for Benitez, who will now surely give Alberto Aquilani the run in the side he deserves. Time will tell how important Mascherano’s absence really is to Liverpool over the busy Christmas schedule.

Regarding Benitez, if there is one thing we have learned about his managerial credentials this term, it’s that he does not possess the ability to win the Premier League, and even fans as patient as Liverpool ones would now be glad to see the back of his Spanish contingent should he quit amid his failings.

The Spanish Armada set sail with the intention of conquering England in 1588 and Benitez had similar ambitions in English football when he took over at Anfield in the summer of 2004.

Like the Armada, the Liverpool boss and his backroom staff of many compatriots have failed to triumph in the country by landing an elusive Premier League crown, and I for one would now encourage him to mirror that historical event further by accepting defeat, giving up and going home.

As for Grant’s Pompey side, they should not get too carried away by the win over an increasingly bland Liverpool side. After that creditable semi final win over Liverpool while at Chelsea, Grant went on to lose the final and ended up empty handed for the season, and I fear his Pompey side face similar disappointment come the end of the season.

After all, losing to one of the eventual relegation victims is a tradition of the Reds. Middlesborough last season, Reading the season before that – the list goes on and on, as does their tally of defeats this term.

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Liverpool 1-2 Lyon

21 Oct 2009 by Lewis Doe in Liverpool

liverpool-1-jpgRafa Benitez is under increasing pressure after his Liverpool side lost 2-1 to Lyon in the Champions League last night. Liverpool were quite clearly below par and mirrored some bad recent performances that have also seen them lose to Fiorentina in the same Champions League group.

Liverpool did go ahead through a Yossi Benayoun strike but goals from Maxime Gonalons and César Delgado were enough to make it a happy night for the French team as Liverpool are now staring right down the barrel of a gun. Liverpool’s problems were made worse by the fact that captain, Steven Gerrard, limped off with an injury.

Gerrard is the tool the many people have said was missing from the side and his premature arrival back into the team did not appear to work and he has only made his injury worse. Needless to say Benitez was not exactly happy.

He said: “Everything that can go wrong is going wrong at the moment. I think we have to win our last three games now. We were 1-0 up and had two or three chances which could have changed everything, but we just had too many problems. I’m really disappointed because we still had enough chances to win it, which could have made everything different.”

“With Glen and Stevie, we will have to check how they are. It was the same problem with Stevie. He felt something and I knew it was better to change him then, but starting with him wasn’t a risk because the doctor said he was OK. He trained for the last two days and was OK — sometimes it’s just bad luck.”

“My job is to prepare them for the next game, and that starts as soon as I finish tonight. Personally, my staff and the players will be the ones who lift me — everyone who wants to see Liverpool winning again, in fact.”

Liverpool fans seems to be losing their patience with the man that won them a fifth European Cup in the club’s history, but the point is that time is running out. Liverpool have also slipped right off the pace in the Premier League and if things do not start to improve quickly then it could be the end as far as Liverpool’s season is concerned.

Benitz needs wins and he needs them fast. In this day and age, losing is heavier than any thing else and if Liverpool keep up their bad form then people will start to want the Spaniards head.

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Liverpool_season_in_the_balance

19 Oct 2009 by Lewis Doe in Liverpool

liverpool-jpg_1Liverpool defender, Jamie Carragher, is throwing caution to the wind ahead of a week that could shape the rest of the club’s season. Liverpool lost 1-0 to Sunderland over the weekend thanks to a controversial goal from Darren Bent.

The bad news is that the club’s next two games will be against Lyon, the best side in France, and Manchester United, the best side in England. Rafa Benitez needs to quickly work out what his best side is and what competition Liverpool will be going for this season.

At the moment they are struggling both domestically and in Europe so the heads seem to have dropped ahead of this week’s crucial European tie with the French giants. Benitez has to be praised for his never say die attitude but as far as Carragher is concerned, it is all up hill from here.

He said: “There is a long way to go yet, but if we continue losing games, it will be the end. We have given ourselves a mountain to climb, but Chelsea lost as well. There is a seven-point difference with Manchester United but we can’t think about the title right now.”

“We have to forget about that and concentrate on the next league game, which will give us the chance to claw some points back. We have to restore our confidence and play much better.”

“We are not playing well, the supporters know that. I am sure there will be a lot of stick flying around before the Lyons game.”

It is good to see one of Liverpool’s most loyal and consistent players come out with comments that are so black and white, they define the feeling of nearly everyone at the club. When he speaks, Carragher does not mix with words and comments like this will be common around the club.

The fact is that without Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres running the show at Liverpool, they struggle and struggle very badly. There is too much reliance on those two players and until Benitez is able to find a solution then they will probably keep losing games.

Liverpool fans know better than any others that when United sniff a point of weakness then they will start to circle it like hungry sharks. For Liverpool to have any hope of repeating their victories against United last season they will have to perform mid-week. If they do not then it could well be season over, little after it has just begun.

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Heskey could opt out of Villa

12 Oct 2009 by Lewis Doe in Aston Villa

emile-heskey-jpgEmile Heskey says that he may be forced to move from Aston Villa in order to keep his hopes of playing at the World Cup alive. Heskey has not been able to have a significant impact at Villa Park, due to his inconsistent starting place in the team.

Martin O’Neill brought him to Aston Villa with the aspirations of helping him find the form that he showed when he was a Liverpool regular and terrorising defences with Michael Owen.

Heskey has also been in and out of Fabio Capello’s England side and many have started saying that unless he bucks up his ideas very quickly then he will miss out on a chance to seal a place on the plan to South Africa.

He said: “I’m happy to be playing for England and, obviously, not playing at club level is difficult. It’s something I will have to look at when I get back and try to address it.”

“That’s what I mean. I will have to sit down and think about my next move. I don’t know whether I can get a World Cup place if I’m not playing for Villa. The manager [Capello] hasn’t really spoken to me about it. I just have to keep performing well in training and keep going. But you always wonder about those kind of things, whether it will affect my chances. I will just have to try to address it when the time is right.”

“I’m never going to give up. It’s just another hurdle I have to get over. I just have to try and keep my spirits up at Villa. I must keep going, keep training hard and then just try to address it. We will see what happens. But you would have to ask the manager [O'Neill] why I’m not playing.”

Heskey’s options are very simple. If he wants a move from Villa then he can submit a request in late December and make himself available for the January window. However. This is very risky.

If he lets it out that he wants to go before December then he could end up being shunned by all connected to Villa. If January comes and goes and no one wants him then Heskey is forced to stay at a club that he has stated he does not want to be at.

He must be praised for showing such ambition and want but he needs to step very carefully to cover his tracks.

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Owen ups stakes

07 Oct 2009 by Lewis Doe in Liverpool

michael-owen-jpgMichael Owen has upped the stakes ahead of Manchester United’s future game with Liverpool. Owen has said that United are the biggest club in the world, which will not go down well with Liverpool fans that saw Owen forge his career on Anfield.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to give Owen a chance in a United shirt does not seem to have been a bad one just yet, even though the player is struggling with another injury.

What will not go down well with Liverpool fans is that Owen, a Liverpool legend, even considered a move to United in the first place. His comments are sure to fire up the passion of many fans who will be expecting Liverpool to up their game after some disappointing results.

Owen said: “It’s fantastic, everything you would expect of a top, top team. It’s probably the biggest club in the world. Everything right down to the kit man and the canteen girls through to the manager, it is just first class.”

“The older you get, the more you get to learn your body. A couple of years ago I would have carried on playing, pulled something and been out for a couple of months, or a few weeks at least. But I felt something coming and if I’d continued I think I would have pulled my groin so I came off just before it happened and instead of three or four weeks it was three or four days.”

If United are going to succeed on more than one front this season then they will need Owen to play his part. The trick will be keeping him free from regular injuries that he now seems prone to and if the club can do this then they have the poacher that they have been missing ever since Ru ud Van Nistelrooy went to join Real Madrid.

Owen has already done a large part in making himself an Old Trafford by scoring a winner against Manchester City in injury time of one of the best derbies in recent memory. It was just what United needed to lift the side after a dodgy display and if he can do it again in another important match they will love him for a long time.

Owen seems to know that he is lucky to have been given a contract at United when he could easily have ended up at a Hull or Stoke City. The point that someone showed such faith in him seems to be something he will never forget.

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Liverpool defender calls for calm

06 Oct 2009 by Lewis Doe in Liverpool

jamiecarragher-jpgLiverpool defender, Jamie Carragher, has said that Liverpool should not let their heads drop just yet. The defender says that the week Liverpool have after the international break is likely to be decisive in how the rest of the club’s season pans out.

Carragher is a Liverpool legend and has been a regular first team player over the last few seasons. He is one of those players that defines the club he is at and he has been in many of the situations that Liverpool are in before.

He said: “It’s never nice to lose before an international break, particularly a game as big as this [against Chelsea], but we have got to put it behind us. It would have been good to send the international lads away with a bit of a buzz, but it wasn’t to be and now it’s a case of putting it behind us.”

“When we get back to it, we have got a massive week coming up with those games against Sunderland, United and Lyons. But every week you have as a Liverpool player is massive and we know we’ll have to be at our best to get going again at Sunderland as they are in good form.”

“Games against Chelsea are notoriously tight and a bit of quality or a mistake is always going to be the thing that turns it one way or another. But we have lost the ball in midfield for their first and I felt myself that I should have done a bit better for their second one.”

“I thought we played quite well and did all right for most of the game, yet we have still come away with a 2-0 defeat. It’s the small details that are so important at this level and we know that there are certain areas we have got to improve. There’s a gap at the top and we’ve got to close it.”

The point is that the very factor that keeps Liverpool apart from the big clubs on such a regular basis is consistency. They simply do not have it. If they were able to beat the big teams every single week then the club would have won another championship by now.

Also they are missing one or two players. There is too much pressure on specific areas of the team and this makes them vulnerable. If these areas do not fire then it makes it impossible for the club to win games as they cannot adapt.

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Rafa Benitez is trying to stay upbeat about Liverpool

05 Oct 2009 by Lewis Doe in Liverpool

steven-gerrard-jpgRafa Benitez is trying to stay upbeat about Liverpool’s title chances, despite the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea yesterday. Goals from Nicholas Anelka and Florent Malouda were enough to put Chelsea right back into the driving seat after Manchester United’s draw with Sunderland.

Liverpool were also soundly beaten in a Champions League match against Fiorentina during the week, a match that Benitez said was one of the worst performances that he had ever seen from his side.

Liverpool will need to buck up their ideas very quickly or it will probably end up being just another dull and boring season that will not play to the ambitions and expectations of the average Reds fan.

Benitez said: “We must stay calm. We will see what happens in March and April. I think you will see all the top sides losing more points against the other teams. It’s good for the Premier League, good for the competition, and it just means we have to try to win more games.”

“I think the performance wasn’t bad. We were against a very good team. The end of the championship is a big distance away. Manchester United’s result [a 2-2 draw at home to Sunderland on Saturday] was a surprise, but we want to stay concentrated on our season, not on the season of other teams.”

Benitez seems to be quickly running out of patience with his side and could wield the axe of rotation all over again ahead of Liverpool’s next game. The problem for them is finding the consistency that will help them move forward and be able to challenge for the title all season long.

The point is that Liverpool do have it in them to compete but what they don’t seem able to do is compete regularly and make good of their best form. Once they find the consistency then they will be amazing.

The other factor is that the club look one or two players short. Fernando Torres does not have a world class partner in attack, too much pressure is put onto Steven Gerrard and the defence needs an extra world class player to hold the side together.

Once all of these things have been found then Liverpool will be fine. January can’t come quick enough at the moment but the message is already clear that the team will not be able to reach the top level of competition this season.

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Aurelio talks of Benitez backlash

01 Oct 2009 by Lewis Doe in Liverpool

liverpool-jpg_0Fabio Aurelio says that he thought he had seen most things during his time at Liverpool, but he was not prepared for the Benitez backlash following the 2-0 defeat against Fiorentina.

Benitez does not appear to be a manager that gets easily annoyed but the performance of his side the other night would have been enough to make even the most modest of managers completely lose the plot.

Aurelio said: “I think that was the most annoyed we have seen the manager, but we were all annoyed. We all felt like that after the first half and I think that’s why you saw a better performance in the second. But we didn’t need harsh words at half-time. We all knew that we were not playing well and that we had to be much better.”

“In the second half we controlled more of it at last and we created chances that normally we would have taken. We just couldn’t find a way to play against them in the first half, and they were finding a lot of space. They were controlling the ball and we couldn’t come up with any way to stop them.”

“It was so unlike Liverpool. In the second half we were a different side and if it had been like that from the start, it could have been a different result. We can’t think about that now, though, just how we will manage it again if we have the same situation in the future.”

“In football you always have a chance to put it right and turn things to your favour and ours comes at Chelsea on Sunday. It’s a good opportunity for us to get over the disappointment of losing in Florence.”

“It is a very important game in the Premier League, against a very strong side, and we have to recover from this result straight away and have the confidence we can do a good job again.”

Liverpool look as though they are going to be this season’s frustrating team to watch. Brilliant at one second but terrible the next. There is no secret plan to uncover, all the team has to do is find the form that saw them completely smash Hull City to bits and play like that in every single game.

Europe is a different league to the Premier League but Benitez has won this cup and will do every thing he can to make sure his side don’t slip up again.

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