Thursday, September 27, 2007

Gerrard: Torres Could Be Our New Ian Rush

Steven Gerrard is so impressed by Fernando Torres's performances for Liverpool this season that he has likened the Spanish striker to the club's goalscoring legend Ian Rush.

"He reminds me a bit of Ian Rush," the Liverpool captain said. "Rush was a great striker and I don't want to put much pressure on Fernando as far as goals are concerned but Rushy got a lot of credit for working hard for the team, tracking back and not giving defenders a minute on the ball, and he [Torres] is similar in a lot ways."

The Spanish international has begun the past two Premier League games on the bench but showed how quickly he has adapted to the English game with a hat-trick in Liverpool's 4-2 win at Reading in the Carling Cup on Tuesday night. And Gerrard was particularly impressed by how the Spaniard dealt with the treatment from Reading's centre-backs André Bikey and Michael Duberry.

"Foreign strikers normally get a bit of stick about the fact that when they get kicked they go hiding," he said. "But he got murdered all night by their centre-halves and kept going back and going back, and worked so hard for the team. I thought he was awesome. He thoroughly deserved his goals but the most impressive thing for me was his attitude. He didn't react to what was happening and kept working hard."

Peter Crouch, encouraged by how quickly the summer signings have settled in, believes Liverpool are in a position to challenge for an unprecedented quadruple. "We are going to challenge on all fronts this year. I really believe that," said the England international, who partnered Torres for the first time at Reading.

"Just look at the players; we've won at Reading but there are players who didn't even travel like [Jermaine] Pennant, [Dirk] Kuyt or [Andriy] Voronin, there was [Steven] Gerrard on the bench. The manager has a lot of players at his disposal."

Crouch believes those resources are already bringing reward. "We want to be as consistent as we can," he added. "Chelsea and Manchester United have proved how consistent you have to be to get anywhere near winning the league and we need to turn some of those draws into wins now. Ten unbeaten is a good start for us. It could have been even better but we need to get that winning mentality."

The sizeable investment Benítez made during the close season has undoubtedly helped, Crouch noting that there had been few problems with any of the new recruits acclimatising to English football. "Sometimes it can take a while to bed in but they've come in and are really firing. That's good for the squad and the team.

Benitez: No Guarantees For Torres

Rafael Benitez refused to promise Fernando Torres a regular starting place despite seeing the Spaniard score his first Liverpool hat trick in its League Cup third round win at Reading.

Benitez sparked an angry reaction from Liverpool fans by resting Torres for Liverpool's recent goalless Premier League draws with Portsmouth and Birmingham.

But the 26 million pound striker responded by inspiring Liverpool to a 4-2 win at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday.

"With Fernando's pace you know he will kill defenders and he had a terrific game," said Benitez.

"If he is not injured and if he keeps training well, maybe he will start the game against Wigan on Saturday.

"We have four good strikers and I need to watch all of them. If you play well you have got a chance and as a manager you have to make difficult decisions."

Israel international Yossi Benayoun put Liverpool in front with his first goal since a summer move from West Ham in the 22nd minute, capping a fine solo run with a powerful finish from the edge of the penalty area.

Bobby Convey drew Reading level with his first goal after a year out with a knee injury just seven minutes later.

Torres restored Liverpool's lead five minutes into the second half with the first goal of his classy treble, holding off Michael Duberry's challenge before side-footing into the bottom left corner.