Friday, October 19, 2007

Rafa: My Tactics Caused Dip In Form

In a rare candid moment Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez conceded that the team’s recent poor form is solely down to him.

After a bright start to the season had the Anfield faithful dreaming of a serious title campaign, draws against Portsmouth, Birmingham and a home defeat to Marseille in the Champions League soon bought the fans back down to earth.

Since then criticism has been rife about Benitez’s rotation policy and tactical changes.

The Spanish tactician accepts that tactics are very much his domain and he is more than willing to accept responsibility for his side's recent demise.

"The problem is a tactical problem and it is my problem," said Benitez.

"Confidence (of the squad) is also an issue but not the physical condition of the players.

"We are running more and faster than before."

Benitez could be boosted ahead of this weekend's Merseyside derby by having Fernando Torres available for selection, despite the Spain international pulling up in midweek.

"Yesterday he was training with the ball and the physios. Hopefully today he will be better and then we have another day so we will wait and see," Benitez added.

"I need to decide if he is really fit or will be a risk. In this case maybe it is not a risk."

Alonso Ready For 'Special Game'

Xabi Alonso insists the foreign players at Liverpool are well aware of the importance of Saturday's Merseyside derby with Everton.

As Liverpool embark on a week which could define their season, the Spaniard said: "The foreign lads always know it's a special game.

"You pick up on the atmosphere when you are out and about in town, of course. Everyone on both sides cannot wait for kick-off - it is a really big day for the city."

After the Premier League clash at Goodison Park, Liverpool take on Besiktas in Istanbul on Wednesday before Arsenal visit Anfield the following Sunday.

But the main focus in the city over the next 24 hours will be the derby match.

Alonso said: "We know how much it means to people. They have family who might support the other team and they talk about it.

"The excitement is the same amongst the players. I am looking forward to it, though of course this week it is different because the whole squad is not here. We'll only have two days together as a squad.

"But it's against the other team from this city, and for the fans it means a lot. I don't know if it means more for the local lads than the foreign players, but I am pretty sure we will be as committed as them."