The men with the
Cup wil truely both leave Anfield. (Photo: AP)
Lawro: Just the start for Kop Rafalution
By Football's number one expert Mark Lawrenson -
A new Anfield era began in Istanbul on Wednesday
But Rafael Benitez knows this is only the start and
there is still lots of work to be done to build a squad
capable of domination at home and abroad.
Winning the Champions League was a fantastic achievement
but it will be fascinating to see how many of those
heroes from the Ataturk Stadium will still be at the
club in a year.
Even the manager has admitted he has only half a dozen
top-class players he wants to keep.
Remember this is a group of players which lost 14 times
in the Premiership this season and would still only
finish fourth in the next campaign unless more changes
But the massive bonus of winning the Champions League
in Benitez’s first season is the boost it will give to
It should allow him to keep Stevie Gerrard while also
attracting other quality players to make the push into
the top three and become a regular Champions League
It is so important not only because of all the money it
will bring to a club still heavily in debt, especially
if Liverpool are allowed to defend their trophy.
But top-class players will also now want to come to
Anfield to play for the European champions.
The whole of Europe was talking about the atmosphere in
the semi-final win over Chelsea. Now the whole world
will have seen this amazing win. To show that spirit –
and no little skill – in the second half was a great
advert for the club.
Benitez has a long shopping list. He will be looking for
a new goalkeeper, even though Jerzy Dudek was probably
his best player in the final, a new centre-back, a
left-back, another midfielder to play off the strikers
and another striker if he sells Milan Baros.
But the Spaniard has to be careful over who he brings in
from La Liga. Xavi Alonso has been a great signing,
while we have still to see the best of Fernando
Morientes. Luis Garcia has good and bad days.
But Benitez’s worth to the club just grows. He has been
there only a year and he has already won the biggest
competition with a lot of ordinary players.
He has made some of them play even better than even they
thought they could.
The way Djimi Traore performed in the first half, he
wouldn’t get in the Dog and Duck pub team on a Sunday.
But after the break, on the left side of a back three,
he was a totally different player.
That was down to the manager.
He made a mistake with his original line-up but he had
the ‘balls’ at half-time to solve the problems.
his greatest team-talk
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez has revealed how he spent the half
time break in Istanbul convincing his players they were
capable of the greatest European Cup final comeback of
The Liverpool boss had to give the team-talk of his life
to instill confidence into his shell-shocked players
that they could recover from three goals down to take
their place in Anfield folklore.
He admits his first thought was just to score a goal and
put Milan under pressure, and he then went about
devising the perfect tactical plan to make that happen.
"It was very difficult to go into that dressing room and
see the players with their heads down. We talked about
different things. We had worked very hard for ten days
and we needed to fight to the end. You have to keep
believing in yourself.
"We had fought hard to be in the final. I was thinking
about what to say and what to change. I needed to change
the system and we needed to be more aggressive. I had to
give confidence to the players.
"The first thing I did was explain the plan to Didi. I
wasn't thinking about winning then, only about scoring.
If we did that then Milan's reaction could be very
different. They were afraid and everything changed when
"I was last in the dressing room. I didn't hear Milan
celebrate but Alex Miller did. He told the players they
were celebrating winning the cup. That was a good thing
Benitez's assistant Paco Ayesteran was full of praise
for the tactical re-think which blew Milan away in the
He said: "We were three nil down and had made three
mistakes, but to solve the problem showed his
"I have never seen him nervous because when you are
nervous you cannot think clearly but to change the
system was the key. Rafa is someone up thinks very
quickly but it is difficult to think quickly and thing
right. That shows his talent.
"We couldn't change things in the first half because of
the problems with Harry's injury but he came up with a
great solution at half time. Didi started winning the
second ball and that became a great help."
to new Reds history
The man renowned for two of the greatest moments in
Liverpool's history believes even his own feats were
eclipsed by the unforgettable occasion in Istanbul.
Former left-back Alan Kennedy will forever be remembered
by Reds fans as the player to score winning goals in two
European Cup finals.
Kennedy first gloriously stepped into the spotlight with
the only goal of the match in the 1981 win over Real
Madrid in Paris, and followed that three years later
with the vital spot-kick in a penalty shoot-out triumph
over Roma in their own Olympic Stadium.
Now 50, Kennedy was at the Ataturk Stadium to watch the
drama unfold as AC Milan strode into a seemingly
invincible 3-0 lead by half-time.
But the Italians reckoned without the tactical nous of
manager Rafael Benitez, the passion and purpose of
captain Steven Gerrard, as well as the spirit and
determination of his team-mates.
Three goals in the space of six second-half minutes
turned the match on its head, and after a remarkable
double save to deny Andriy Shevchenko late in extra-time
from Jerzy Dudek, it was the Pole who again emerged the
hero in the penalties as Liverpool won 3-2.
On reflection, Kennedy said: "To re-iterate what the
fans have been saying, it's probably the greatest night
they have ever had.
"A lot of people I was sitting with [at the Ataturk
Stadium] had seen me score the winning goal in '81, then
in '84 after a penalty shoot-out which was
"But I think this has eclipsed everything. I think it
tops the lot because of the fightback and the spirit
they showed in the team.
"It was Liverpool at their best, and I've never seen a
team come from three goals down and show the character
and commitment they did. Only a team like Liverpool,
with that manager, could have done it.
"But Milan got complacent. They would have gone in at
half-time and their manager would have told them to do
what they had been doing, but they didn't. They fell
"Liverpool then went and produced the performance we had
been hoping they would produce."
All the talk now surrounds Gerrard and whether he will
still be at Anfield next season, although by his own
admission, the England international midfielder believes
there is no way he could leave.
"I think the fans would physically prevent him from
leaving," added Kennedy. "But money can buy any player.
If £100m was on the table...but it's what clubs are
prepared to give and Steven Gerrard is one of the best
midfielders in the country, if not the world.
"He was playing at right-back, tackling back and doing
well. He is one of the most complete players and
whatever people are prepared to pay for him it isn't
"I'm sure Liverpool will not want to sell one of their