Monday, September 28, 2009

Hat-trick Hero Fernando Torres Happy To See Ryan Babel Score Double

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres scored a hat-trick against Hull City in the Reds' 6-1 victory this afternoon and said he was delighted to score for his side.

“The role of the striker is to score; I had scored three so I'm really happy,” Torres told Sky Sports.

Torres was also full of praise for his team-mate Ryan Babel. The Dutch forward came off the bench to score twice in the victory.

“Ryan Babel came in my position and scored two so I'm really happy for my team-mates as well because they deserve to play,” said the Spaniard. “Not all of us can play 90 minutes so it is adapting work, and that is the main thing.”

Torres appears to be approaching his peak form, and the Spanish striker admitted he has been fatigued after a long campaign last year. Torres represented Spain in the Confederations Cup during the summer while some of his Liverpool team-mates were on holiday.

“I'm getting better because it was a long season for me, the last one, and I'm training, trying to reach 100 per cent and we are working for that,” said Torres.

Liverpool's No.9 emphasized that the Reds haven't yet reached their peak, despite sitting third in the Premier League.

“I'm scoring goals now but the main thing is we are improving physically and as a team as well so I think we will be near our best soon,” he concluded.

Fernando Torres Still To Peak, Says Benitez

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez says Fernando Torres has yet to reach his peak despite a brilliant hat-trick in the 6-1 demolition of Hull City at Anfield.

The Spain striker hit three goals in the opening 47 minutes - after Geovanni had briefly equalised - and terrorised the Hull defence all afternoon.

Steven Gerrard added the fourth on the hour before Ryan Babel hit two late on but the day belonged to Torres, who has now scored eight in seven matches and an incredible 33 in 34 matches at Anfield.

"In the last three games he was really good, he is improving his mentality, work-rate and movement and he is now showing his ability but I think he can do it better," said the Liverpool FC boss.

"The main thing is the mentality of the player. He is keen to learn and he will improve but how much depends on him."

Benitez said he was always confident the 25-year-old would become one of the world’s greatest strikers after bringing him to Anfield from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2007.

"If you think about the money we were spending on players we then decided to spend £20million on Torres - that was a massive figure for us," admitted the Spaniard.

"We decided to bring him here because of his quality but also his potential and the future he had.

"We had a lot of confidence he would get better and we are pleased now but he can improve."

Benitez did not go so far as to class today as a perfect performance - they conceded a goal - but he was impressed by the attitude of his players even when the game was won midway through the second half.

"The first goal was important but after we conceded I thought our second goal made a big difference," he added.

"The team was playing with confidence, creating a lot of chances and at the end of the game we could change players and think about the next game.

"Six goals is fantastic but it could have been even better because we had more chances at the end.

"The positive thing was the mentality of the team going forward, trying to win the game and still trying to score more goals."

Hull manager Phil Brown, whose side are second from bottom in the Premier League with four points after three successive defeats, could barely contain his anger at the performance.

"I was disgusted with some of the defending, individually and collectively," he said.

"For me it was demoralising and I hope it was for the players as well.

"People will say Torres was the difference between the two sides but I thought we gifted them the goals.

"To come out in the second half and throw away a third goal and give up our position was disgusting.

"That killed us off and one or two towels went in after that, which is bitterly disappointing from my point of view.

"It is going to have to be uncomfortable for one or two this week - myself included - because there is a little bit of pain flying around at the moment and it is all coming my way."

Gerrard Contemplates Management

Steven Gerrard admits he is already pondering the thought of becoming a manager when he hangs his boots up.

But the Liverpool captain insists he will have to become 'crazy' to adapt to the rigours of life as a football boss.

Gerrard, who scored his third goal of the season in Saturday's 6-1 mauling of Hull City, has no intention of calling it quits at Anfield just yet, but the 29-year-old midfielder has confessed that he is fascinated by the work ethic of the top managers in the business.

The Reds skipper told The Daily Mail: “People ask me what I would like to do after football and I'd love to be a manager.

"But then I wonder if I could ever be as good as those guys because it is 24/7, it's their life, there is nothing else and I don't think I could be crazy like that

"I like to switch off after games. I've got two daughters. I like to play golf. I think of Rafa and in five years I have never had a conversation with him that was not about football; Capello the same. They fascinate me, those people.

"When I get talking to John Terry or Wayne Rooney, I am always asking about their managers, how they work, how they interact with the players. I'll pull Gary Lewin, the England physiotherapist, and ask him about Arsene Wenger at Arsenal."

Gerrard reckons team-mate Jamie Carragher has what it takes to become a top manager after the Liverpool vice-captain previously announced his desire to become the Reds boss in the future.

Gerrard added: "On Friday, I love getting home, sitting on the couch, turning Sky Sports News on and listening to all the interviews coming in from the training grounds, just to hear these characters talking about football.

"I don't know if I could be that obsessed. Jamie Carragher, now he could, definitely."

Liverpool's Emiliano Insua Delighted With First Argentina Call-Up

Liverpool left-back Emiliano Insua has spoken of his joy at being called up to the Argentina squad for the very first time for the crucial World Cup 2010 qualifiers with Peru and Uruguay next month.

The 20-year-old defender has impressed in the string of performances he has made at left full-back for Liverpool thus far this season as he continues to deputise for Brazilian Fabio Aurelio.

Argentina coach Diego Maradona has an uphill struggle if he is to ensure qualification to the World Cup finals in South Africa next year with his side currently sitting in fifth place in the group, one point adrift of fourth placed Ecuador.

The upcoming fixtures against Peru and Uruguay will certainly prove decisive if the Albicelestes are going to book a place at next summer's showpiece event and Insua is relishing the chance to help his team achieve qualification.

"It [the call-up] is very special," he told

"Argentina are fighting for their place in the World Cup and I want to help my country get there. I am very happy.

"Everyone knows how good Maradona was as a player, so it will be fantastic for me to play under him as a coach. I hope we can make it to South Africa and would love to play my part."

The former Boca Juniors youngster went on to praise the performance of Fernando Torres in Liverpool's 6-1 thumping of Hull City in the Premier League on Saturday.

"He [Torres] is one of the best strikers in the world," Insua added.

"It is incredible to play with him. He is a great player but he is also a great person too. I enjoy playing alongside him - I wouldn't want to play against him.

"In the first half it was more difficult for us because they [Hull] tried to press high. It was easier in the second half, we played more freely and scored a lot of goals."

Liverpool In Talks Over £125m Investment From Arab Prince

Liverpool co-owner George Gillett was in talks on Saturday night about selling a 25 per cent stake in the Anfield club to an Arab prince in a deal worth £125million.

Sunday Mirror Sport understands that Gillett has met with Prince Khalid al-Faisal and members of the Saudi royal family about investment opportunities at Liverpool.

Discussions initially began about various commercial projects but quickly progressed into talks aimed at bringing the prince in as a co-owner to work alongside Gillett and his fellow American Tom Hicks.

Any share deal would require the blessing of Hicks before it could be rubber-stamped. And although Hicks is yet to meet personally with Prince Khalid, it is understood that the Texan is ready to welcome a new partner if the terms of the deal are right.

Hicks and Gillett have been searching the Middle East for potential investors to ease the burden of the club’s £300m debts.

Liverpool had a record turnover last year and have just announced football’s biggest shirt sponsorship deal, worth £20m-a-year with Standard Chartered Bank.

But the club has been unable to finance the construction of a new 60,000-capacity stadium at Stanley Park because of the credit crunch.

And manager Rafa Benitez has been told that he must work within a strict transfer budget of £20m-a-year.

Rafa Backs Aquilani To Shine

Rafael Benitez believes Liverpool new boy Alberto Aquilani will prove to be a better playmaker than Xabi Alonso.

Aquilani has yet to make his Reds debut since his £20million summer switch from Roma but the Italian international has stepped up his rehabilitation from an ankle injury and should be available in October for the Merseysiders.

Reds boss Benitez has previously backed the Anfield new boy to fill the void of the departed Alonso - who returned to his homeland in a £30 million move to Real Madrid.

But the Spanish tactician has elaborated further, claiming the 25-year-old midfielder will carve out more chances for the likes of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres than Alonso did before his summer switch.

Benitez told The Daily Mirror: "Alberto is running again and when we travel to play Fiorentina in the Champions League this week he will stay behind to continue with his rehabilitation program.

"I know the fans are frustrated but we have signed a good player with talent and I never worried that we would have to wait for him to be fit.

"Xabi was a player who received the ball and played long and short passes. Aquilani wants to play higher up the pitch than that.

"He wants to be in the final third so that he can create chances.

"In that respect, playing passes to give the strikers the chance to score, he is better than Alonso.

"When he is fit the team will be more dangerous because he has the ability to find Torres and Gerrard with passes that will give them more chances to score.

"He is ahead of schedule for his comeback, but we must be careful with him."

Pennant Questions Rafa Reign

Jermaine Pennant claims Rafael Benitez attempted to turn him into a "robot" during his days at Liverpool.

The winger spent three years working under the Spaniard at Anfield before making a switch to Spanish outfit Real Zaragoza this summer.

Pennnant struggled to secure regular first-team football while on Merseyside, with Benitez renowned for his rotation policy.

The 26-year-old admits he grew tired of being prevented from playing his natural game, claiming he was unable to perform to the best of his ability due to the incessant demands placed upon him by his manager.

"When I was on the touchline all I could hear was Benitez giving me directions," Pennant told the News of the World.

"At times I'd think 'why don't you just put the batteries in and turn me into a robot'.

"Sometimes I just wanted to play my natural game, but there were so many instructions: how to go forward, how to defend.

"He has been through so many players, so many strikers, so many midfielders that he takes the best attributes out of them."

Pennant has also revealed he endured a distant relationship with Benitez, meaning that he was never able to fully understand why he was overlooked on so many occasions.

He added: "I didn't understand it. There are players at Liverpool and you think 'how is he getting a game?', but Rafa has faith in them. He thinks some of the players are the best thing since sliced bread.

"Rafa didn't have confidence in me. I'd play one week, then I'd be out of the team and think 'hold on a minute - last week I scored one and made two. How does that work?'

"He can be cold, but that's his style. He has a special relationship with Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher - but that's because they are Liverpool. There were times when he took offence with me because he could see how frustrated I was.

"I don't know the reasons, but he's won the European Cup and you can't argue with that. It kills half of Liverpool that they haven't won the league for so long. Something can't be right and they need to start looking into it quickly."

Pennant is delighted to have broken his Anfield shackles after completing his move to Spain, and claims he has set his sights on forcing his way into the England fold this term.

He added: "The ambition is to get into the World Cup squad. I've never been named in a squad, but I've never given up hope. (Fabio) Capello has twice been a manager out here and if he comes to Spain he's only coming to watch one player.

"Ian Wright got into the England team when he was 26 or 27 and I know it can be done.

"My assets are pace, going past players and crossing. I don't think anyone in that squad crosses the ball as well as me."