Saturday, November 01, 2008

Match Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. LiverpooL

Liverpool travel to North London on Saturday evening for the Premiership clash with a rejuvenated Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.

While the Reds are flying high, three points clear at the top of the Premiership, Spurs are propping up the division, two points adrift.

However, last weekend's surprise arrival of Harry Redknapp from Portsmouth to replace Juande Ramos appears to have galvanised the North London club.

Redknapp's first game in charge saw Spurs win their first league game of the season against 19th placed Bolton Wanderers before a pulsating 4-4 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates on Wednesday, in which they recovered from 4-2 down to secure a point.

"They've had two games under Redknapp and when you change a manager you can see a difference," said Reds boss Rafael Benitez.

"The other day Portsmouth did better away from home than they were doing before. It's normal when you change a manager.

"When you play against Arsenal you know they will score, so if you are not strong in defence you know you will concede. After they fell behind they kept going forward and maybe one or two goals were lucky, but they still got level.

"We will try to win the game that will be idea. They will do the same so it could be an open game."

Liverpool's win over Portsmouth at Anfield in midweek kept the Reds three points clear of second-place Chelsea but Benitez has warned that he feels there is more to come from his side.

"I think we are in a good position, we are really pleased to be there but there is still a long way to go," he said.

"We are happy and we are doing well but we have to keep our concentration because it is a long race.

"It's better to be at the top of the table rather than playing catch up. We are doing well but there is plenty of room for improvement so I am still confident we can improve.

"Maybe we can improve our accuracy up front and do better defensively. It is not bad now but we can do both things better.

"I prefer to win playing well, but if you asked me what I would prefer, I would say just to win.

"But if you cannot play well you have to win in another way.

"I think we have done well in a number of games and sometimes it is necessary to win without playing well.

"When you talk about 38 games it is always important to do your job properly and these three points you get when you don't play well can make the difference.

"We have to keep the momentum, the team has confidence, and we are creating chances and not conceding too many. It is important to keep doing the things we are doing now."

Despite Liverpool's impressive start to the season, bookmakers still have the Reds as third favourites for the title behind Chelsea and Manchester United but Benitez is unconcerned by this.

He said: "I don't care about this. I just concentrate on our football and try to be there as much as we can.

"Chelsea won the league once with 95 points and another year with 92. But clearly you need at least 85 points.

"Chelsea are very strong and so are Man United and Arsenal. Aston Villa are also pushing. There are some strong teams putting pressure on at the top and it will be the same until the end of the season.

"I am just concentrating on making sure we are up there."

"We must keep the momentum," added Benitez. "We have confidence and we are creating chances and not conceding too many.

"It is important to keep the players doing things just as they are doing now.

"What pleases me is that we have been without three of our top players for maybe half the games we have played. Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres and Martin Skrtel have all missed several games each but we are still unbeaten and now top.

"That shows the quality we have in the squad now, it has improved at Liverpool."

Benitez confirmed that Robbie Keane is available to face his former club after the Irishman had been struggling with a groin injury, and the Spaniard is hoping for a warm welcome from the Spurs fans for the forward.

"Keane is available," he said. "It is my decision in the end whether he plays, but he is another one who wants to play in every game and I'm sure he'd like to see their fans and say hello again.

"He was a key player for them for years. He is a fantastic professional and he always gave 100 per cent for them. He is now doing that for us but I'm sure their fans will appreciate him."

Benitez confirmed that he was weighing up the possibility of recalling Fernando Torres to the Liverpool squad for the clash at White Hart Lane.

The Spanish international has missed the Reds last four games with a hamstring injury he picked up on international duty and although Torres is nearing full fitness, Benitez is considering leaving the 24-year-old at Melwood to continue his recovery.

The Reds have won three and drew one of the four games without Torres and Benitez feels this is a sign of the strength in depth available at his disposal.

"In the past, perhaps we did not have the ability to cope because maybe we did not have the same quality," said Benitez.

"But now we have won some important games without some of our best players.

"We managed to beat Man United without Torres and Steven Gerrard was only fit enough to come on as a substitute late on in that game.

"Last week we won at Chelsea without Torres so that should give the players confidence that we can win games even when we have injuries.

"It could be better if Torres remains on Merseyside and does not travel with the squad for the Spurs game but we will see.

"The result against Portsmouth showed the depth and quality of our squad.

"We have competition for places and a great team spirit.

"On Wednesday we changed four players and still won the game which is a good sign.

"We were able to protect a couple of players but now it is a bit more difficult for me because the other players who came into their side did their job and we won the game.

"As a manager you always want competition for places and we have that."

Benitez is expected to recall Javier Mascherano, Daniel Agger, Albert Riera and Keane to the starting line-up after resting them against Portsmouth.

Ryan Babel, Sami Hyypia, Jermaine Pennant and Lucas Leiva are set to make way.

Spurs are hoping to have captain Ledley King available again after resting him against Arsenal. Jermaine Jenas is expected to recover from a toe injury but Michael Dawson is suspended.

Aaron Lennon and Giovanni Dos Santos are vying for starting berths while Darren Bent could replace Roman Pavlyuchenko in attack.


Tottenham from: Gomes, Hutton, Corluka, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto, Bentley, Jenas, Huddlestone, Bale, Modric, Pavlyuchenko, King, Bent, Gunter, Lennon, Cesar, Zokora, O'Hara, Campbell.

Liverpool from: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Hyypia, Aurelio, Dossena, Babel, Benayoun, Gerrard, Mascherano, Alonso, Pennant, Kuyt, Keane, Riera, Lucas, Cavalieri.

More To Come From Reds, Warns Rafa

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has warned his title rivals that his side are yet to reach top form.

Liverpool travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday knowing they face a rejuvenated side coming off the back of four points in two games.

However, Rafa Benitez believes that his Reds are yet to peak, but is proud of his top of the table standing.

"I think we are in a good position, we are really pleased to be there but there is still a long way to go," he told the club's official website.

"We are happy and we are doing well but we have to keep our concentration because it is a long race.

"It's better to be at the top of the table rather than playing catch up. We are doing well but there is plenty of room for improvement so I am still confident we can improve," he said.

"Maybe we can improve our accuracy up front and do better defensively. It is not bad now but we can do both things better."

Even though Liverpool hold first place in England's Premier League, and are three points clear from the chasing pack, the bookies still rate them as third favourites to lift the crown in May, but this does not faze Rafa.

"I don't care about this... I just concentrate on our football and try to be there as much as we can.

"Chelsea won the league once with 95 points and another year with 92... But clearly you need at least 85 points.

"Chelsea are very strong and so are Man United and Arsenal. Aston Villa are also pushing. There are some strong teams putting pressure on at the top and it will be the same until the end of the season," he added.

"I am just concentrating on making sure we are up there."

Rafa Benitez Loving The Pressure Of Being Top Of The League

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is welcoming the pressures involved in taking his team to Tottenham as leaders of the Barclays Premier League.

But he believes former Tottenham skipper Robbie Keane, now in Liverpool’s ranks, has no reason to feel any extra burden as he prepares to return to the club he left for £20million in the summer.

Keane can expect a hot welcome from Tottenham fans who saw their idol defect to the club he supported as a boy.

Benitez insists he “enjoys the pressures of managing a team at the top of the table” and he also hopes that Keane is treated with respect by the Spurs supporters.

He compared Keane’s return to Peter Crouch’s arrival at Anfield in a Portsmouth shirt on Wednesday, just months after his move to Fratton Park.

Benitez said: “Peter came back to Liverpool this week and was given a great reception. He will always be a good player and he has the respect of our fans.

“I do not believe that Robbie has anything to prove, he has great quality. Hopefully Spurs fans will acknowledge this and what he did for them, and that he is now with another team.

“Keane is available after his slight (groin) injury, he wants to play every game anyway, but yes, this one is very important to him.

“He would like to see the Spurs fans and say ’hello’ again. He was a key player for them for some years, a fantastic professional and gave 100% all the time.

“But I think their fans will appreciate what Robbie gave them when he was there.”

But Benitez wants more from Keane, who has scored just twice in 16 matches at Liverpool.

He said: “Robbie is a very good player and is working hard, but we know he can play better and score more goals because he has that potential.

“Robbie has experience and is trying to do his job. He is not under pressure because he knows the team is winning, and his contribution to those victories has been very, very good.

“He is happy with that. People talk about his price but it does not worry him on the pitch, you do not think about that, only about how to do things well.

“We can see in every training session how hard Robbie works, and he is the same in games. He is doing well but he can improve.”

Liverpool, who will probably again be without Fernando Torres, have been top since Sunday’s win at Chelsea, while Tottenham are still bottom despite a dramatic change of fortune under new boss Harry Redknapp.

Rather than being among the chasing teams, Benitez said: “I prefer to be top. It is better for us because we can approach games with more confidence than when you are playing to catch-up at the top.

“If you make a mistake then, it can become very difficult because the gap gets bigger. When you are top there is some leeway. You know that you do have a cushion of some points to do that.

“My view on the season so far is that we are in a very good position, we are glad to be there, but there is still a long way to go.

“We are happy, we are doing well, but we must keep concentration because this is a very long race.

“The pressure does not bother me, it is better to be top than trying to catch-up.

“But we do still have plenty of room for improvement. We need to be more accurate up front and in defence a little more composed.

“We all know we can do it better, we are not bad, but we can be much better.”

Benitez is also well aware of the Redknapp factor, given the impact the former Portsmouth boss has made since the sacking of Juande Ramos.

He said: “I was surprised that Juande has gone, I said that he had good players when he was under pressure.

“Before he was sacked I felt that Spurs would finish a lot higher in the table, and I still have that view.

“When you fire a manager, for me it is never a good decision. For me it is always bad, it is important to keep calm and give managers time, because experience tells you that things are better when you do that.

“Now Spurs have had two games under Harry Redknapp and they have done well, the players have something different to concentrate on.

“When you change a manager, like you saw at Arsenal when Spurs drew 4-4, it can make an immediate difference, they were suddenly much better.

“But the key will be just how they are doing in two or three months’ time.

“They did well at Arsenal, maybe a couple of their goals were a bit lucky, but they still count and it was a good result for them.”

Benitez added: “As for us we must keep the momentum, we have confidence and we are creating chances and not conceding too many.

“It is important to keep the players doing things just as they are doing now.

“What pleases me is that we have been without three of our top players for maybe half the games we have played. Javier Mascherano, Torres and Martin Skrtel have all missed several games each but we are still unbeaten and now top.

“That shows the quality we have in the squad now, it has improved at Liverpool.”

Robbie Keane Fit To Face Spurs

Liverpool striker Robbie Keane has been declared fit for today’s return to his former club in the Barclays Premier League clash at Spurs.

Keane had been struggling with a groin problem and was only used as a last-minute substitute for Steven Gerrard in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Portsmouth.

But Keane can expect to start the match at White Hart Lane, the club he left for £20million in the summer to move to Anfield.

Liverpool seem unlikely to risk fellow striker Fernando Torres, who is still only in light training after a hamstring problem. He is more likely to return for the Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Keane On A Medal Mission: Liverpool Striker Wants To Show Spurs What They're Missing

Robbie Keane can dream about title medals now he is a Liverpool player and, having been told he is starting at White Hart Lane today, he wants to show Tottenham fans what they are missing.

As Harry Redknapp urged the home support not to boo former captain Keane as he makes his first return since his £20.3million summer move to Anfield, Keane admitted: 'There's still a lot more to come.

'You haven't seen the best yet of me but we have a lot of games coming up and I'm looking forward to showing what I can do.

'Every player wants to win things no matter where they are from. You want to look back on your career and see medals.'

Although leaders Liverpool are playing down title talk after their recent back-to-back 1-0 victories over Chelsea and Portsmouth, Keane said: 'We don't talk about things like being top in the dressing room.

'It's there in the background because a lot of people talk about it but we have a lot of experienced players who've won the Champions League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup. They'll make sure we handle the pressure.

'We're lucky in that we don't have any players who are cocky or arrogant enough to think they've won anything at this stage of the season.'

In an interview with, Keane said: 'Stevie (Gerrard) doesn't go on about it every day but there is a desire inside him and the likes of Jamie Carragher to win the league.

'Their determination rubs off on everyone at the club.'

Spurs boss Redknapp said: 'Robbie deserves a fantastic reception. He gave great service here.

'He stayed for six years and that doesn't happen very often these days. They bought him for £10million and sold him for £20m. That's great business.'

Tim Sherwood has agreed to a part-time role on Redknapp's coaching team, and the Spurs boss also wants Les Ferdinand to work part-time with his strikers.

Redknapp said: 'It's about time we got the younger guys involved. People like Tim and Les Ferdinand have a lot to offer.

'Tim's got a terrific football brain. I'd like to tap in to that and get him on the coaching ladder and see if he likes it.

'We've got to have English coaches coming in coaching at the top of the Premier League.'
Redknapp's positive vibe has infected Tottenham but Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez believes they were wrong to sack Juande Ramos after less than a year in the job.

'Tottenham have good players,' said Benitez. 'I said before, when Juande was under pressure, that they would finish higher than they are now and I still have the same idea.

'When you fire a manager it is never a good decision.'

And of the Redknapp effect he added: 'It is only two games. When you change managers you always notice something different.

'The question is whether in two or three months it will be the same.'

Liverpool Lifted By Riera Factor, Claims Hyypia

SAMI HYYPIA is better placed than most to pass judgment on Liverpool’s championship prospects, having witnessed more false dawns at Anfield than he cares to remember.

Yet, as he approaches a decade of unstinting service on Merseyside, veteran defender Sami Hyypia detects something different about his team-mates that he believes can underpin their pursuit of that elusive first title since 1990.

If the victories over Manchester United and Chelsea this season have dispelled the myth that Liverpool are reliant solely upon Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres for inspiration, then Hyypia also points to the strength of character Rafa Benitez’s side has displayed during an unbeaten start to the season as further cause for optimism.

“The difference from previous seasons I have been here is that in the summer we made some good signings that have settled very well straight away into the team,” said Hyypia, in reference to the instant impact Spanish winger Albert Riera has had since signing from Espanyol.

“We also now have a lot of competition for places, which is something we haven’t maybe had as much of in past seasons.

“And this season maybe we are a bit stronger mentally, too. You only have to look at the way in which we have won some games to see that.

“Every year it seems to be becoming more and more difficult to be on top, what with the other teams strengthening their squads.

“But so far, so good, and hopefully we can keep on going as we have done.”

The victory over Portsmouth on Wednesday underlined Liverpool’s determination that this will be their season, having spent too many recent campaigns watching from afar as the title race reaches a breathless conclusion.

It was a win which owed more to patience and perseverance than the panache they displayed at Stamford Bridge last Sunday in shattering Chelsea’s 86-match unbeaten run, but illustrated a versatility that was amply rewarded with Gerrard’s late spot-kick.

“The result is always more important than how you play. At the beginning of the season there were some games in which we didn’t perform brilliantly, but we got the result,” said Hyypia, a runner-up to Arsenal during Gerard Houllier’s reign in 2002.

“If come May we’re at the top of the league, then nobody will remember that we played bad football at the beginning of the season. They’ll just remember that we kept on getting the points and the result is more important than how you get it.

“It was important to keep the momentum going after our win at Chelsea. After the win over United we played Stoke and everybody expected us to win, but we slipped up by being held to a goalless draw. So we had to make sure we didn’t allow it to happen again on Wednesday.

“It’s still early days so we will keep our feet on the ground, take it game by game and just try to win every time.

“We are letting all the other people do the talking. We’re not ones to go shouting about what we are going to do. We are just trying to keep our cool and just keep putting in the good performances.”

A championship gong would complete Hyypia’s medal haul and be a fitting way for him to mark 10 years at Liverpool since a £2.5million move from Dutch side Willem II.

It is the lure of adding to a collection that includes FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup and Champions League winners’ medals that is likely to ensure that 35-year-old Finnish defender Hyypia resists any overtures from a host of clubs trying to tempt him from Anfield in January.

Newcastle, Wigan and Stoke, to name but a few, would be prepared to offer Hyypia a king’s ransom to leave, but his ties with Liverpool – and Benitez’s faith in him – mean the offers will be rebuffed.

Benitez believes Hyypia’s team-first mentality makes him the perfect squad player and, having used him as a late sub specifically to combat John Terry’s aerial threat in the dying embers of the win at Chelsea, handed him a second start of the season against Portsmouth.

And as Portsmouth striker Peter Crouch could testify yesterday, Hyypia’s appetite for a challenge still remains undiminished. Increasingly, Hyypia believes the same can be said of Liverpool as a whole.

Steven Gerrard: Liverpool Role Is So Special

To mark his fifth anniversary as Liverpool skipper, Steven Gerrard has given his personal account of what it takes to wear the armband in the recently released My Captain's Book. Here, in exclusive extracts from the book, Gerrard tells of the highs, the lows and his ambitions for the future in a revealing insight into Liverpool's inspirational leader.

FIVE years ago this month, Steven Gerrard fulfilled a boyhood dream when he was made captain of the club he had supported all his life.

Following in the footsteps of Liverpool legends like Graeme Souness, Alan Hansen and Emlyn Hughes meant the captain's armband could have weighed heavy on a player who had only turned 23 less than five months earlier.

But through a combination of individual brilliance on the pitch and a growing awareness of what being a skipper is all about, Gerrard has gone on to make the captain's role his own.

In "My Captain's Book", the 28-year-old reveals just what it means to him to be Liverpool's leader on the pitch, why he regards it as one of the ultimate honours of his glittering career and his ambitions for the future.

"It's amazing to think that five years have passed since I was handed the full-time job of being Liverpool captain," writes Gerrard.

"I've been lucky in the time that I've been captain of Liverpool because we've enjoyed some real success – we've been to two Champions League finals and an FA Cup final, winning two out of three.

"I've enjoyed those successes as much as anyone – player or fan. But we want more, we want a hell of a lot more.

"I'd say I've learned more from being a captain when things haven't gone too well. You learn more in football from bad experiences really.

"Obviously, I've had some tremendous highs as captain with the trophies I've lifted.

"Every time we win a football match and I'm wearing that armband, the feeling and the buzz is unbelievable.

"And when you lead the team out . . .

"These are special feelings that I can only really describe because I've experienced them.

"But going out of competitions, bad defeats, losing in cup finals or falling short in the league, you remember and learn from all of that too.

"I think, as captain, I feel more responsible, particularly when we get beaten.

"I'm sure I can speak for Jamie Carragher here too. When we get on that bus after a defeat we know there are hundreds of thousands of people who are disappointed and upset that Liverpool lost.

"But I'd argue to death that there aren't two people who feel it more than me and Jamie.

"I suppose it's because we are captain and vice-captain that we feel this extra responsibility.

"We're out there and it's in our hands with the rest of the squad – but we are the leaders in the pack."

Gerrard's inspirational leadership is one of the main reasons why Liverpool fans are able to look back so fondly on the magical events that took place in Istanbul in 2005 and in Cardiff a year later.

On those never to be forgotten occasions, the Huyton-born midfielder helped drag his team back from the dead as the Reds faced almost certain defeat against AC Milan and then against West Ham United.

A fifth European Cup and a seventh FA Cup are testimony to what Gerrard and his Anfield team-mates achieved on those glorious days, but he insists he will not even begin to be satisfied until the League Championship trophy is back in its rightful home.

"I've still got big ambitions as captain of Liverpool Football Club," writes Gerrard.

"There's a lot I still have to learn and a lot I want to achieve – it's far from over.

"I was wearing the yellow Champions League armband when we won in Istanbul.

"Winning the Champions League has to be the biggest thing that has happened to me in football so far.

"To lift the title wearing the Premier League captain's armband would have to be up there with Istanbul without a shadow of a doubt.

"I'm confident it's going to come – we might have to be patient but I've got confidence it will happen.

"I grew up watching Liverpool teams, great teams with great players, winning title after title and you just expect that dynasty to continue.

"It's been too long away from Anfield and we're determined to start another legacy here in our time.

"We feel we've got the players here to do that."

Gillett Outlines Philosophy At Liverpool, Montreal

George Gillett Jr. has experienced the hostility of fans from Montreal to Liverpool but it never gets any easier.

The 70-year-old sports tycoon acknowledges the magnitude of his duty to supporters of the ice hockey, motorsport and football teams that rely on his investment.

"You feel a responsibility and an embarrassment on occasions when you haven't provided all that you might have,'' Gillett told The Associated Press. "There's a level of embarrassment and you want to correct that quickly.''

Not just at Premier League football club Liverpool, but also in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens and in NASCAR with Gillett Evernham Motorsports.

Gillett has endured a torrid year of personal abuse at Liverpool, which he co-owns with Tom Hicks.

Much of the supporters' anger centers on the 18-time English champion's debt and the stalling of construction on a new stadium due to the credit crunch. However, crosstown rival Everton's hopes for a new stadium are in turmoil and the London Olympic 2012 project also shows that economic concerns aren't just Liverpool's domain.

"All the sports teams I know of are re-examining all of their futures, but I think it's a universal not just a sports issue,'' Gillett said.”People making this straight-line connection between the world financial crisis - and sports may be in trouble.

"It's more a story of needing to be cautious and it's not a time to be profligate and so forth as opposed to saying, 'World financial crisis sports must be in trouble.'''

In fact, Gillett entered the race this month to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Montreal and Indian sports are on his radar after several trips to the subcontinent.

In the hockey rinks of North America and the football pitches of Europe, Gillett's assets are thriving.

Liverpool is on the crest of a wave. Not only have tensions thawed between Gillett and Hicks - the owner of the MLB's Texas Rangers and the NHL's Dallas Stars - but the Reds are top the Premier League, raising hopes of a first English league title since 1990.

Trophies would help heal the owners' relationship with fans.

Just 56 kilometers (35 miles) east of Anfield is Old Trafford, where Manchester United won Champions and Premier League titles not long after the Glazer family's acrimonious takeover caused fans to storm the ground and fight running battles with police.

Gillett takes comfort from his experiences in Montreal. The American crossed the border to take control of Quebec's sacred sports team to be face severe criticism.

"In Montreal, there was deep concern that I had bought the icon of a whole province, perhaps the icon of the sport in Montreal, and I was American and didn't speak the language,'' Gillett said. "There was a level of suspicion: how could someone end up with this kind of money - it must have been in an illegal or crooked way. My reaction was not to be upset with people who legitimately questioned us. That was fine and our comment at the time was, 'Let's let time be the judge and let's see if we can work together on it.'

"And it has worked. I don't think anybody is immune from criticism and I don't think anyone is immune from making mistakes, but I think that to have an individual family or a partnership accused by the media ...''

Gillett stops mid-sentence, aware it would be unwise to reopen old wounds while Liverpool is on a roll domestically and in Europe.

"With Montreal as an example, we proved that our intentions were pure, that we really were fans and that we had the club and fans' interests at heart,'' Gillett said. "Time is an important aspect of all this.''

In Montreal, fans have warmed to the Gillett family since its 2001 takeover. Last season's eastern conference title triumph raised hopes that their 100th season in 2009 produces a 25th Stanley Cup triumph and the first since 1993.

"We missed the playoffs a couple of times while we built a good, strong young team, and that meant stepping back while we developed a strategy of building from within,'' Gillett said.

Gillett will only discuss his general sporting philosophy that could apply equally to Liverpool or the Canadiens.

"We now have a club that will be successful in the long run, that can compete for the championship every year and doesn't depend on buying high-priced players every year,'' Gillett said. "We have a wonderful, built-from-within club that we supplement with superstars. We are not dependent on the superstars and that is a good system.

"It's a system that we believe in as a family. It's a system that we believe will sustain fans' support for the long run. That's important, that we have the fans happy and proud for the long run.''

George Gillett Won't Deny Sale Accusation

GEORGE GILLETT has refused to deny hiring a leading American bank to find a buyer for Liverpool.

In an interview with Canadian radio station Fan 590, Gillett was pressed on a number issues, including the ownership of the club, his relationship with co-owner Tom Hicks and the recent postponement of work on the planned new stadium on Stanley Park.

In response to questioning about speculation that Merrill Lynch have been hired to search for potential buyers, Gillett responded: "We would not have any comment on that.

“ There is too much speculation already," and insisted that a lot of the stories in the British media are "made up".

He was more forthcoming on his relationship with Hicks which has previously been strained.

"We are working together," he said. "Things are good. Tom is a great guy and he is smart as well.

"We got off on the wrong basis and we are a little embarrassed by that."

Gillett was not prepared to put forward his own thoughts on why he and Hicks remain so unpopular with the Liverpool fans, preferring to allow "the club to do the talking".

"I think you would have to ask the fans," he said. "I think there are some things that have happened that upset them.

"But I think they're at a point where they are allowing the boys to demonstrate their skill and allowing Rafa – one of the great coaches in the history of the sport – to do his thing so we just want to leave it that way.

Hicks and Gillett recently announced that plans to build a new stadium had been put on hold because of the credit crunch, but insists preparatory work is ongoing.