Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Benitez: I Like Having Selection Problems Because All My Strikers Are Fit

Rafael Benitez hailed Fernando Torres' stunning goal against Fulham and admitted he was looking forward to more selection posers.

Following Liverpool's 8-0 win over Besiktas, manager Benitez named an unchanged side for the first time this season as the Cottagers visited Anfield on Saturday.

But the Londoners proved a stubborn outfit and it was not until the introduction of injury-hit Torres that the Reds finally made the breakthrough after 81 minutes. Steven Gerrard then clinched a 2-0 win with a late penalty after Peter Crouch was tripped.
Benitez said: "It is good he is back fit, now I have the sort of problems I like with several fit strikers to choose from.

"It was important for Torres to be back and important that he can score goals like that.

"At the end I said well done to them all, not just Torres, his job is to score goals."

Reina: Benitez Driven On By Desperation To Win Premier League

Pepe Reina has revealed Rafa Benitez's desperation to end Liverpool's title drought as he admitted the Reds boss will do everything to bring the championship back to Anfield.

Despite an early-season wobble and a raft of injuries, Liverpool are just six points adrift of top spot with a game in hand over Manchester United.

And while the Spain keeper knows how much it would mean to the Kop to hail the best team in England for the first time in nearly two decades, he maintains Benitez wants it even more.

Reina, who has kept 10 clean sheets in 17 starts this season, told the Daily Mirror: "I know Rafa well and he will break his own head to find a solution to get the title for Liverpool.

"He has the experience of three seasons in England now and knows more of what is required.

"We are all aware of how desperate the fans are to win the championship.

After 18 years without doing so, for a club like Liverpool, that's only normal.

"We all wish to give them that chance to celebrate the title after so long. It's our biggest target for the season.

"Rafa has been successful in the last few years and shown at Liverpool how he can pick teams, change formations and win knock-out games.

"Look at how we've done in the Champions League, winning the FA Cup and getting to the Carling Cup Final as well. It's not easy to win a European Cup in your first season at a club and Rafa did that.

"That will serve him well in the future. He is someone who will always keep learning how English football is and learn from his 'mistakes' - if that's what you want to call them.

"But I wouldn't call them mistakes, because he doesn't make many at all. He is a really seasoned manager, who is always looking for the right solutions, and he will find them."

Reina, 25, insisted he is part of a Liverpool squad that has got what it takes to overhaul United, Arsenal and Chelsea and see Merseyside football back in control.

"People talk about prioritising, about maybe giving up the Champions League for the Premier League, and that's always difficult for a club like Liverpool to do," he added at the Paris launch of the new adidas Predator PowerSwerve boot.

"But if you were to say to me today - 'if you give up the Champions League you WILL win the title', then I'd say 'all right, let's do it now!'"

Gerrard: It's Been Difficult

Steven Gerrard admits it has been 'difficult' being an England player since the defeat in Russia, but is staying positive for the national team's Euro 2008 qualification hopes.

Last month's 2-1 loss in Moscow means England are relying on Israel to secure a result against Russia on Saturday to ensure Steve McClaren's men still have a chance to reach next summer's finals.

England face tournament co-hosts Austria in a friendly on Friday, but midfielder Gerrard intimated that the players' minds are on Israel's game with Russia 24 hours later.

"It's going to be a difficult week because we're all waiting for the Israel game," Gerrard told the Daily Mirror. "It's been difficult being an England player since the Russia result.

"We could all be going into one of the most meaningless internationals of our career, or one of the most important.

"But if we join up this week thinking it's all over and we've got no chance, it will make it impossible to prepare right for Wednesday if it suddenly becomes a massive game for us."

Gerrard also insists the players want to represent England and the stand-in skipper remains determined to be successful with the national team.

He added: "It's not aggravation to go out and play for your country. I still believe and have a dream of winning something with England, and that's worth any aggravation.

"If you look around the squad and see the players we've got, they should be capable of winning something. If we have to suffer this summer to have a successful World Cup in 2010, then that really would be worth the aggravation, if you want to call it that.

"Can you imagine this country if we have a successful tournament? And that's what I want to be part of.

"I have the same dream I had when I was a kid. Any young English player who doesn't have that dream shouldn't be playing for England.

"I can assure everyone on the outside that the players are frustrated and disappointed at the position we're in and are desperate to put it right."

Voronin Tips Kuyt To Find Best Form

Andriy Voronin has backed Dirk Kuyt to rediscover his best form "in the next few weeks" and win his place back in the Liverpool side.

Kuyt was left out of the side which faced Fulham at the weekend as Voronin, Peter Crouch and substitute Fernando Torres all featured, but the Ukraine frontman insists Kuyt will bounce back.

He said: "I have a very good relationship with the other strikers and it is up to the manager to decide who plays in any particular game.

"It's not about individuals, it's about the team, but Dirk is a very good striker. Sometimes strikers make mistakes, sometimes defenders do the same.

"But Dirk is a very good player and I am sure we'll see him back to his best in the next few weeks."