Anfield legend: He's very fortunate
that he's managing Liverpool
By Ben Moss - Sport.co.uk
Liverpool legend Graeme Souness believes
Rafa Benitez is fortunate to still be the manager at Anfield
given the club’s lacklustre start to the season.
Following the club’s elimination from the Champions League
and their poor start to the Premier League season, Souness
suggests the Spaniard is living off former glories and
raised concerns about the long-term prospects of the club
should they fail to finish in the top four this season.
Souness told Sky Sports: “If you ask me about any managers,
particularly Liverpool managers because I know how difficult
that job is, I'm not going to tell you 'this one should go
or that one should stay', but I think he's very fortunate
that he's managing Liverpool,”
“At Liverpool you get more of a chance than any of the other
big clubs out there. He's very lucky that he won that
European Cup so early on in his reign.
“I think that's bought him a lot of time, and there's still
a great deal of affection out there for him with the people
“But if they lose to Everton on Sunday and I think that
would be another hard blow for the red side of Liverpool to
“It's a hard business today managing at the highest level,
but again I'm trying to look beyond personnel. I worked for
them for a long, long time and some of the best days of my
footballing career were at Liverpool, and I worry about the
“I'm not worrying about the present players, the present
management, the present owners. They're only custodians.”
“When you own a big football club, a club that's steeped in
tradition, you're there to look after it and hopefully pass
it on in better nick than when you got it.”
“I don't think those two Americans will be doing that this
time around. I think Liverpool's crying out for somebody
from the Middle East to come with a big fat cheque that
allows them to take care of the debt and allows them to move
“As long as they've got that debt hanging round their neck
they're going nowhere. They are going nowhere fast, and the
big danger for me is that they drop out of the Champions
League places this season now and they can no longer attract
the best players.”
“All of a sudden they're having to unload some of their
“If they're not in the Champions League next year I think
that will cause Liverpool major problems.”
“I would suggest that if that is the case then anything
could happen in terms of people leaving Liverpool.”
“And the biggest asset they've have is Torres.”
“If you're not in the Champions League you're not going to
attract the best players.”
Aurelio: Liverpool players responsible
for Champions League exit
By Ian Ferris - triballfotball.com
Brazilian defender Fabio Aurelio maintains
Liverpool's stars must shoulder the blame for the club's
disappointing exit from the Champions League.
Liverpool drop into the Europa League by finishing third in
Aurelio said: "The players still have confidence and we know
that it is only us who can change our situation by working
hard to improve.
"We know we can do better, certainly than we are doing at
"The team are now intent on winning at Everton on Sunday and
starting to get more points right to the end of the season.
Then we will see what position we are in, and what we are
able to fight for.
"It is a big game next against Everton and a big opportunity
to improve and regain the strength we need for a long season
Aurelio added: "It is difficult to explain how we feel.
Being Liverpool, you expect to go much further in the
competition than we have done this season.
"But now we cannot allow ourselves to dwell on what has
happened, we must concentrate on the future to fight for a
different title, the Europa League.
"We also have the challenge to do things better in the
Premier League as well.
"It is difficult to know where this campaign has gone wrong,
but against Lyon we lost goals in the last minutes of both
games and that has made the difference.
"Liverpool used to be more solid in defence, and we have
only scored four goals in five games in the group matches,
so we have to improve in all areas.
"We have been missing a lot of players through injury
problems, so we have to think that things can only improve
in that situation.
"It is a big disappointment to be out of the Champions
League, but we have to win a trophy. A big team like
Liverpool must accept that.
"The Europa League is an opportunity to win a trophy and
that's how we will go into this competition thinking. At
Liverpool, every competition is important, we want to win
"We will have a great chance to get a trophy and we'll go
for it, but there is still a long way go until May and we
have to improve.
"In the Premier League we know we have to do better and we
have a massive game at the weekend at Everton.
"It's the derby and we will try to do things properly and
get the three points."
Liverpool FC fans are backing
Rafael Benitez but will owners?
Comment by Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo
Much has been made about Liverpool’s
failure to land a league title in 20 years now.
And rightly so. We all know why.
But dropping out of the European Cup before the knockout
stages is bitterly disappointing and very painful too for
everyone associated with Liverpool FC.
Because it is in Europe’s upper echelons where Liverpool
Football Club belongs.
So being dumped out of a Champions League group this season
which any Liverpool side should ordinarily have been able to
conquer, is not good enough.
But my thoughts last night as our Champions League hopes
disappeared despite the 1-0 victory over Debrecen went out
to those magnificent Liverpool fans who stood in the rain in
Hungary at the end on a cold November night singing “You’ll
Never Walk Alone.”
They weren’t booing, screaming at players or calling for the
They stuck with the team and shared the deep disappointment,
singing their hearts out to try and lift everyone’s spirits.
Liverpool supporters are magnificent and unique.
And the reason why Rafael Benitez and everyone at Anfield
knows they deserve far better than they’re suddenly getting
Certainly the fans will give the manger time to sort it out.
Question is, will the owners, who hardly ever turn up to
watch a game, either sell up or somehow give him the money
he needs to ensure this stuttering and deeply frustrating
season is not repeated.
I doubt it.
But for the sake of those truly wonderful and loyal
Liverpool fans who stick with their team through thick and
thin, I hope I’m wrong.
Purslow: Benitez's job is safe
Liverpool managing director Christian
Purslow has told Rafa Benitez that his job is safe despite
the elimination from the UEFA Champions League.
The Reds won 1-0 at Debrecen on Tuesday, but Fiorentina
succeeded against Lyon in Florence to join the French side
in progressing from Group E to the last 16.
Liverpool will therefore take an on and off-field hit as a
result of slipping into the Europa League, while a place in
next season's Champions League is far from certain amidst
But Benitez is not facing the sack, according to Purslow,
with late goals in a defeat and draw to Lyon earlier in the
competition meaning Liverpool were already facing a tough
task to qualify prior to events in Budapest.
Purslow told Sky Sports 2: "You can never predict
last-minute goals, which have cost us dear in the Champions
League. That's no basis to make managerial decisions.
"We don't run our business in that respect. I'm on the
record as saying Rafa's signed a new five-year contract,
he's four months into that contract so to discuss that is
Purslow has also offered financial reassurances by insisting
that Liverpool co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks have
budgeted for failure in the Champions League.
Asked about the monetary impact, he said: "It's limited
actually. Assuming we have a reasonable run in the Europa
League then we are financially neutral for this year."
Rafa: We must hold heads high
By Jimmy Rice in Budapest - LFC Official Website
Rafa Benitez believes Liverpool can still
enjoy a successful season in 2009-10 - but warned his
players not to let their Champions League exit affect
performances over the coming weeks.
The Reds did all they could by beating Debrecen 1-0 thanks
to a David Ngog strike - but Fiorentina's victory over Lyon
by the same scoreline meant we crashed out at the group
stage for the first time under Benitez.
The boss admitted he was disappointed for the fans but urged
everyone to stay positive ahead of a crucial Merseyside
derby at the weekend.
Everton are one of the sides Liverpool could meet in the
Europa League - and memories of a glorious campaign in 2001
means Steven Gerrard and co will be going all out to reach
the final in Hamburg.
Benitez said: "You have to be disappointed. We did our job
here but we cannot change things. If you analyse the games,
two late goals against Lyon were a massive difference.
"You have the first half against Fiorentina and the two late
goals but that's football and sometimes you can't control
things. We had chances in all of the games - we could have
won all of them.
"We have been so good in the last few years that people
think it's easy to progress. You can see every year we've
qualified and everyone expects us to be in the final.
"But the fans realise the team worked so hard and you can't
expect more. We made two mistakes late against Lyon but the
fans have some experience in Europe.
"We have to be positive, we have a massive game on Sunday
and we have to make sure we are ready.
"I like to win every game and be as high as possible in all
the competitions but I think more about the players, the
staff and the fans and I'm disappointed for everyone.
"To win is always the target but when you are doing as well
as you can you just have to think about the next target. We
cannot win the Champions League, we know that. A lot of
teams don't play in the Champions League. So we have to
think about Everton and then the Europa League.
"The players know it's been a bad run of games but to win
here and to show we can create a lot of chances is
Asked if he and his team were keeping abreast of events in
Italy during the Debrecen game, Benitez added: "At half-time
we knew (it was 1-0) and we were waiting afterwards for news
but the players didn't know."
Gerrard: Let's go and
win Europa League
By James Carroll - LFC Official Website
Steven Gerrard reflected on Liverpool's
European heartbreak and declared: 'Now let's go and win the
A fourth minute strike from David Ngog gave the Reds a 1-0
victory over Debrecen in Budapest - but it wasn't enough to
save their Champions League status as Fiorentina beat Lyon
While Gerrard accepts it is a blow to have bowed out of the
tournament at the group stage, the captain is confident the
season can still end in success for Rafael Benitez's side.
"The disappointing thing was having to rely on other teams
going into tonight," said Gerrard.
"We've played fantastically well tonight and deserved the
three points, so it's disappointing that we won't progress
in the Champions League.
"You get what you deserve in this competition and the two
late goals we conceded against Lyon have been crucial. But
it's gone now - it's in the past and we've got to move on.
"We're in the Europa League and we'll go and try to win it.
"Tonight's performance was encouraging and we can build on
that. We've got a lot of players coming back from injury so
hopefully it's onwards and upwards from here."
The results mean Liverpool will drop down into the Europa
League - a competition the Reds last won on a memorable
night in Dortmund in 2001.
Asked if the players would find it difficult to pick
themselves up to play in the tournament, Gerrard replied:
"Of course because the main prize has gone.
"When you start the season, you want to stay in the
Champions League as long as possible, so to be playing in
the Europa League is disappointing.
"But we have to accept that, move on and go and try and win
"The only consolation from losing out on the Champions
League is to go and win the one that comes second."
Gerrard admits Liverpool's primary short-term focus will be
attempting to secure a top four finish this campaign and a
return to the Champions League in 2010-11.
"It's important we finish in the top four, that goes without
saying," he added.
"For financial reasons, but also from a personal point of
view it is important for players to play in the Champions
League because it's the best level.
"It's important we go to Everton on Sunday, try to get the
three points and get ourselves back in the top four as soon
"Now that we've got the majority of the squad back fit, I'm
very confident we can turn things around and go on a long
run of winning games.
"Hopefully Torres is not too far away and then we'll have
everyone back fit and go from there."
fails to materialise
By Peter Fraser - Sky Sports
The soul searching taking place at
Liverpool this season will intensify after the five-time
kings of Europe crashed out of the UEFA Champions League
group stages despite winning 1-0 at Debrecen.
Rafa Benitez's Reds travelled to Hungary with their boss
admitting his side needed a miracle to reach the last 16,
and the Spaniard's worst fears were confirmed as Fiorentina
defeated Lyon in Florence to qualify at the expense of his
The three points for the Italians in Tuesday's other match
in Group E rendered events in Budapest completely irrelevant
as a first-half goal from French striker David Ngog will now
take a back seat to plans for the Europa League.
Ngog handed Liverpool the perfect start after just four
minutes, applying a glancing touch to Jamie Carragher's
header across goal from a Fabio Aurelio cross, but he and
his team-mates were left to rue the late draw in Lyon at the
beginning of November.
Benitez will take solace in ending a winless run that
stretches back to the Premier League success over Manchester
United in October but he will also know that a failure to
reach the knockout stages for the first time in his tenure
will only increase tension in a wretched season.
The cost is little more than a couple of million pounds this
season for Liverpool, who continually stress that they never
budget for anything but the group stages.
But it is a severe blow to the esteem of a true European
power who have suffered a fall from grace few would have
predicted when the competition started.
The true damage comes next season if they fail to finish in
the Premier League's top four, something they are far from
certain of. That would see them lose a cool £10m immediately
and put further question marks over the financial direction
the club is facing.
Liverpool had Glen Johnson and Aurelio back from injury,
otherwise it was the same side that drew with Manchester
City on Saturday - with Ryan Babel out with an ankle injury
and Yossi Benayoun on the bench, suggesting that his
hamstring injury is still not completely healed.
Debrecen made eight changes from the side that beat Honved
in the Hungarian league at the weekend, and included seven
of the side that lost 1-0 in the opening group match back in
August at Anfield.
And Liverpool could not have asked for a better start to
settle any nerves as they went ahead after just four minutes
with the Hungarians having barely touched the ball.
Aurelio's cross from the right curled to the far post for
Carragher to head back across goal, where Ngog guided the
ball with the outside of his right foot in off the keeper
and the far post.
Twice Dirk Kuyt narrowly failed to get on the end of
close-range crosses as Liverpool sought a second.
But they began to get sloppy, giving the ball away with
over-ambitious passes which wasted the impressive movement
that had Debrecen struggling.
Debrecen also gave away a lot of early free-kicks as they
struggled to contain Liverpool, and Dutch referee Bjorn
Kuipers lost patience and booked Zoltan Szelesi for a foul
on Steven Gerrard.
Vukasin Poleksic twice saved well from Ngog, with Liverpool
having 70 per cent of the possession.
But news of a Fiorentina goal against Lyon was enough to
silence the travelling support and change the mood.
Debrecen's first opportunity soon followed with Gergely
Rudolf heading wide when unmarked in the area. Liverpool
needed, at least, to settle the issue with a second goal in
this match as Debrecen continued to grow in confidence.
Poleksic made another fine save to turn away a close-range
Gerrard effort after he was set up by Johnson.
Debrecen then sent on striker Adamo Coulibaly in place of
Peter Szakaly. The big Frenchman had caused Liverpool plenty
of problems earlier in the season.
Now nerves were getting to the Liverpool men as they toiled
to clinch the match.
Emiliano Insua lost possession to Rudolf on the edge of the
box, regaining the ball as the forward threw himself down in
Agger's run set up a chance for Gerrard but he drove high
over from the edge of the box.
Debrecen players were going down at every opportunity now,
drawing howls of anger from the home fans.
Benayoun came on for Ngog after 77 minutes, with Debrecen
replacing Marcell Fodor with Tibor Dombi a minute later.
Carragher headed an Aurelio corner just wide but the second
goal remained elusive for Liverpool.
Kuyt was now the central striker with Benayoun on the right,
but it was Liverpool on the defensive as Rudolf forced Jose
Reina into a save from a fierce angled drive.
Liverpool sent on Andrea Dossena for Aurelio with a couple
of minutes left, Alberto Aquilani replacing Gerrard in
There was still time for Coulibaly to have a shot kicked
clear by Reina as Liverpool clung onto their lead.