by spending power
By Paul Walker - PA Sport
Rafael Benitez admits he is relishing the prospect of
being able to spend big in the transfer market if the
proposed Liverpool takeover is completed.
The Anfield boss was anticipating the new "big picture" and
an exciting future as he brought his squad back from Turkey
following the disappointing - but largely unimportant -
Champions League Group C defeat by Galatasaray in Istanbul.
Liverpool were already confirmed as group winners, and can
now contemplate the knockout stage draw later this month
which could see them paired with second-placed finishers
Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Roma or Barcelona.
That is an exciting prospect for Benitez, as is the
potential takeover of the club by Dubai International
Capital - news of which has dominated Liverpool's passage
this week into the next stage of this season's tournament.
Due diligence will now have to be completed before the
£450million deal can go ahead, with the prospect of major
transfer funds being released by the Maktoum family, the
backers of the proposed buy-out.
And Benitez clearly believes he will soon be able to compete
in the transfer market with Europe's big guns, including
Benitez said: "The big picture now is clear. This investment
can help us for the future.
"We can have a big stadium, more fans seeing us and also a
lot of money.
"That will help us for sure. We will be able to compete at
the top end of the transfer market and that is a good
prospect for me.
"It is important for a club like ours to have this level of
investment, and it is important for the manager, too.
"You can consider buying certain players and you will know
that the club is behind you. If they have enough money it
will certainly help us for the future.
"Maybe in the future we will have more money. It is a great
He added: "It is important for the club to have the prospect
of such new investment, we are pleased and so I believe are
"If this turns out to be the right thing for this club it
will be fantastic. We do have to be careful, we cannot just
change all the team straight away, and we would not want to
because we have some fine players already.
"It would be wrong to change everything. This team has won
trophies while the chairman has spent three years trying to
The prospect of greater buying power for the future also
inspired midfielder Xabi Alonso.
He said: "If the takeover is good for the club then
obviously I am happy. It's not done yet, but really close.
"They will bring new ideas, and money. The new stadium is a
priority and that will help the level that the team can
reach as well as bringing in new players."
Alonso figured in Benitez's experimental side in Istanbul,
while other senior men - Steven Gerrard, Sami Hyypia, Steve
Finnan and Jose Reina - were left at home to rest ahead of
the busy December and new year period.
He said: "You never want to lose a Champions League game,
but we had already done the job and there was not that much
pressure on us.
"It was harder to concentrate because we already knew we had
qualified, and the three points were not important.
"We started well with Robbie Fowler's first goal, but then I
made a silly mistake and within a few minutes they had
equalised and were leading.
"It was logical to rest some players who had been involved
in a lot of matches, and that gave us the chance to bring in
some youngsters. It was a good chance to see how they
"It was good for them and for the club. It was very good
experience for them.
"It's hard to come into tough Champions League away games,
but the lads have to get used to this level. And the more
minutes they play the better they will get."
Bring on Barca
By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website
Xabi Alonso claims the Reds do not care who they face in
the next round of the Champions League – even if it's the
The Spaniard insists there are no easy draws and reckons he
and his teammates thrive on being underdogs anyway.
"We know whoever we get in the next round will be really
tough but it will also be exciting," he said.
"You can see the teams who will be involved and how strong
those who finished in second are.
"We'll have to be ready. Real or Barcelona could be the next
game, but we've played a few games in Spain in the last few
years and always won there, so if we meet either of those
clubs we'll know it will be a massive game for the club, but
"When we won in 2005, we were never favourites in any game
we played, and depending on the draw that maybe the case
again, which could suit us.
"It was definitely good the year we won it when everyone
thought we would lose to Juve and then Chelsea and Milan. I
hope that would be a good omen for us."
The draw for the knock-out stages takes place a week on
Positives in Euro defeat
By Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo
Last night's match and result was obviously in stark
contrast to our previous visit to the Ataturk Stadium in
I was disappointed though because I always believe you need
to do all you can to win every game you play.
It fuels the winning mentality and strength of purpose which
a team needs to win at the top.
But if we had to lose one game this season, then we'd all
have chosen this one.
A few youngsters got some important experience - and some of
our key players got a chance to sit it out and rest. So
let's hope normal service is resumed this Saturday when
Fulham come to Anfield.
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez blamed bad mistakes for his
side's defeat to Galatasaray.
The Reds slipped to their first defeat in Group C after
going down 3-2 at the Ataturk Stadium.
Robbie Fowler scored two goals for Liverpool, but it was not
enough for a much-changed Reds side with several youngsters
getting a chance to impress.
Benitez was unhappy with his side's defending, but he
conceded he knew it would be difficult for his players to be
up for the game with top spot in the group already secured.
"We paid for bad mistakes - you cannot expect to win if you
make mistakes like that at this level," bemoaned Benitez.
"I always felt it was going to be a difficult game for the
players - they knew they were already group winners and the
job had been done.
"So it was more difficult to stage a comeback in such
circumstances, as you would in a cup final."
Benitez defended his decision to rest several of his top
stars with the likes of Lee Peltier and Danny Guthrie
getting a rare chance in the first team.
"I wanted to see my players doing well but also to realise
that there are younger team-mates who are waiting for their
chance," added Benitez.
"I have rested some senior players, because we have such a
busy next couple of months with lots of games. I wanted to
see what futures there are for the young players and to be
able to plan for that future."
Galatasaray manager Erik Gerets believes Liverpool can go
far in the competition with a full strength team.
"It was a difficult game for Liverpool," said Gerets. "They
had already done the job they set out to do, before even
coming to Istanbul.
"They are a very good team. It is difficult to judge whether
they can go all the way - but with their best players, they
can win the tournament.
"I would certainly like to see that, because I like Rafa
Benitez and admire his teams. But there are some very good
teams left in the tournament."
plays down defeat
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Jamie Carragher played down Liverpool's 3-2 defeat to
Galatasaray on Tuesday.
With top spot already secured in Group C a below-strength
Liverpool side fell to their first defeat in Europe this
Carragher, who captained Liverpool in the absence of the
rested Steven Gerrard, shrugged off the defeat as there was
nothing riding on the game.
"We've already qualified top of the group," said Carragher.
"We came here and we wanted to win but there's a lot of
young lads out there and it's a great experience for them.
"Of course we're disappointed we got beaten.
"The Champions League is the top level. They showed that
they're a good side.
"They gave us a scare at Anfield when we supposedly had our
full team out."
Carragher also welcomed the prospect of a possible takeover
of the club with Dubai International Capital in talks with
"We don't know too much about that. That's for the men at
the top of the club," added Carragher.
"The chairman's always been very generous in buying players
through all his time here and if it's even better then
Reds not galled by Gala setback
Liverpool were losers on their return to the Ataturk
Stadium, with Galatasaray sealing a 3-2 Champions League win
over the Group C winners.
Robbie Fowler scored twice but Liverpool just did not have
the heart or interest to produce another 3-3 thriller in
Fowler put the visitors into an early lead at the same
stadium that saw the Reds produce the thrilling three-goal
comeback that put them on the way to the Champions League
crown 18 months ago.
But with nothing riding on this final Group C match, and a
seriously weakened side on the pitch, they were unable to
stop Galatasaray claiming some pride and their first group
win in a disappointing campaign for the Turkish champions.
Fowler headed a second with just a couple of minutes left,
but in truth Liverpool did not really deserve to take
anything from a match that meant little to them, having
already won this group.
They now will await the last 16 draw later this month and
put their European dreams in cold storage until March.
By then they will almost certainly have new Dubai-based
owners to oversee the knock-out stages.
Liverpool's return to the Ataturk was a far cry from that
last famous visit.
Back then this white-elephant of a venue was rocking to the
sound of 40,000-plus Liverpool fans - this time around a
ground that is barely used these days was not even half
That was the sad reality of a match with little importance
other than pride and the £500,000 prize money.
And it gave Liverpool the chance to blood youngsters Lee
Peltier and Danny Guthrie in their European debuts, while
Jerzy Dudek was in goal to make what will be his swansong
appearance for the club on the ground where he was a penalty
shoot-out hero of Liverpool's fifth European Cup triumph.
Jamie Carragher captained the side, again in a holding
midfield role again with Guthrie on the left of midfield and
John Arne Riise returning to left-back.
It took just two minutes for Dudek to be scrambling across
the goal in which he conceded three against AC Milan, though
this time he was stretching for a curling free-kick from
Sabri Sarioglu that just cleared the far post.
The youthfulness of Liverpool's central defence, comprising
Daniel Agger and Gabriel Paletta, gave cause for concern at
times, Peltier also having trouble with Marcelo Carrusca's
Umit Karan, who scored twice for Galatasaray in their 3-2
defeat at Anfield, managed to get to a 20th minute free-kick
ahead of Dudek's punch that soared over before Liverpool
Craig Bellamy's left-wing cross cleared Stjepan Tomas' leap
and fell into Fowler's path, the veteran sending the ball
into the net off his thigh.
But Liverpool's joy was short-lived. Two minutes after
Fowler's effort, the Turks were level.
Xabi Alonso's hurried ball into the heart of his own defence
split Paletta and Agger and was snapped up by Necati Ates,
who surged into the box to guide his shot past Dudek into
the bottom corner.
It got worse for Liverpool four minutes later. Paletta's
header from a corner fell perfectly 20 yards out for Okan
Buruk, who met the dropping ball on the volley and sent it
curling away from Dudek's dive to give Galatasaray the lead.
Liverpool had kept clean sheets in six of their previous
seven matches, and both goals were certainly avoidable.
They responded with a couple of efforts from Carragher and a
stabbed shot from Bellamy, saved by Faryd Mondragon.
It could have been worse for Liverpool before the break,
Dudek needing an outstretched leg to stop Sarioglu adding to
Galatasaray had lost the injured Necati Ates seconds before
the break, Sasa Ilic taking over, with Emre Asik replaced at
half-time by Tolga Seyhan.
But the changes failed to halt Galatasaray's growing
control. Teenager Peltier was clearly being targeted,
constantly attacked by two men. And he needed to haul back
Sarioglu fractionally outside the box to avoid the Gala man
getting clear on the left.
It could have been three for the hosts on 53 minutes when
Umit Karan's flicked header from Carrusca's free-kick hit
the inside of the far post and somehow bounced out.
Liverpool were sloppy, with continual loss of possession,
although from one chipped Alonso free-kick, Fowler shot on
the turn only to see the clever effort blocked by Mondragon.
Liverpool withdrew Guthrie and sent on Luis Garcia, but
still the passing was poor and the hosts were snapping away
in midfield, intent on getting something from a
disappointing European campaign.
The Reds sent on Peter Crouch for Bellamy, which just
underlined what boss Rafael Benitez thought of the match,
preferring to have the Welshman fit for Saturday's home game
Galatasaray then withdrew Carrusca, sending on Mehmet Guven.
And it was Guven on 79 minutes who got past Riise to lay the
ball back for substitute Sasa Ilic to side-foot home the
Miki Roque came on for his debut in place of Alonso while
Pennant was booked near the end, and it was Pennant's
chipped cross that set up Fowler for a headed second with
two minutes left.
But by then it was too much to expect another 3-3 draw by