Dirk Kuyt has scored - again. (Photo: PA)
Why Rafa Benitez wonít
leave Liverpool FC for Juventus
Comment by Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo
There has been so much speculation over
the past week, but I canít see Rafa Benitez quitting
Liverpool to take over at Juventus.
To be honest, it just wouldnít make any sense. Juventus is a
club close to my heart and as far as Iím concerned they are
the best club in Italy.
But if Benitez left to go there he wouldnít be going to a
better club or one with more money to spend on signings.
In fact Juventus are in a worse financial situation than
They are only fifth in Serie A and arenít challenging for
Iíd be very disappointed if he went there and I just canít
see it happening.
Juve clearly want Benitez and have used the media to see
what reaction they would get.
There have been so many rumours but Benitez insists he has
not had any contact with them and heís also reaffirmed his
commitment to Liverpool.
He has vowed to stay on and I donít think heís the sort of
man to go back on his word.
Of course this season has been frustrating but he signed a
five-year contract last year and has a job to do.
The supporters have been very loyal to him and he has always
said he will stay here as long as the supporters are still
I think some people read far too much into Benitez saying he
was proud to be linked with Juventus.
Of course itís a good feeling when a big club wants you and
thatís all he said. Rafa also said heís staying so that
should be the end of the matter. Heís given his word and we
have to believe him.
All this speculation can be unsettling for players. You
donít want to hear stories about how the manager who signed
you might be moving on.
Performances prove the players still believe in the manager.
They have to stay focused and concentrate their efforts on
ensuring we finish fourth in the league and win the Europa
League this season.
We all know Liverpool need new investment to be able to
really push on. I travel all around the world and the one
league everyone watches is the Premier League. Serie A is
rarely talked about.
There should be no shortage of interest in Liverpool and
hopefully an injection of cash will ensure Benitezís
long-term future is at Anfield.
Iím disappointed Liverpool didnít buy another striker
Iím disappointed we didnít sign a striker before the
transfer window shut.
Fans want to know what happened to the £6million we got from
selling Voronin and Dossena and rightly so.
Maybe the boss believes his squad is strong enough as it is
or maybe that money wasnít available to him.
Weíre all in the dark about that.
With Torres out injured, there is a lot of pressure on young
Heís still learning and is improving but Liverpool donít
have much time because they are in a situation where they
canít afford to drop points.
Ngog missed a great chance against Bolton but even the best
He has got to forget about that and concentrate on getting
the next one. A derby goal would more than make up for it.
the Liverpool FC fans
Comment by Mark Lawrenson - Liverpool Daily Post
The supporters at Liverpool have been
great with Rafael Benitez Ė at a lot of other clubs he would
no longer have a job.
They are a patient bunch at Anfield and in times of trouble
they go to the manager and say Ďhow can we help?í
So in light of some of his comments which emerged at the
weekend about the interest from Juventus, Benitez has got to
If he decides to go to Italy then he must realise he will be
managing a game of chess; the game is played at walking pace
at times over there.
Although he says it was flattering to have Juve interested
in him, would he rather manage there after being in charge
of Liverpool in the Premier League? I would have thought
One of the main signs of encouragement from Liverpoolís win
at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday was the more attacking
line-up Benitez selected.
I have said it before, but Liverpool do not need two holding
midfield players, they need to be winning games now if the
club still harbour hopes of a fourth placed finish Ė draws
are of no use to them.
With teams like Aston Villa and to a greater extent
Manchester City, having games in hand, Liverpool need to be
Alberto Aquilani, who the manager brought in to add an
attacking threat at the expense of Lucas against Bolton,
came in for some criticism for his performance.
We need to give him between 15-20 starts in the Premier
League before we can properly judge him Ė he has only had
At the moment he has just been a bit of a peripheral player
and with the injuries to Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres
the hope was he would have been a bit more of a game winner.
But we have to give him 15-20 games, it is only fair and he
hasnít played that much football over the last year so letís
just wait and see Ė though at present he doesnít look like a
Although I am loath to talk about the American owners, Tom
Hicksí appearance at Anfield on Saturday was unusual given
it was not a particularly high profile game; call me cynic
but it would suggest he was just over here on business.
It will be three years this month the Americans put the
spade in the ground at Stanley Park and made all these grand
I know we have gone through a recession but the supporters
have been left with broken promises.
It is a shame because managing director Christian Purslow
seems like one of the good guys who is trying to do
something about it all, though the situation seems
impossible to resolve unless we accept a loan with massive
Everyone tuning into the derby on Saturday will be hoping
for a better game than the one in November.
Much like you had the feeling when the sides met at Goodison
Park, whoever gets the first goal will probably win the game
this time around.
For Everton, there has never been a better time to go to
Anfield and play against a Liverpool side without Fernando
Liverpool are on a decent run of undefeated in six Premier
League games but are still not playing that well.
Mark Lawrenson was speaking to Phil Kirkbride
Reina: Reds gaining confidence
Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina admits the
Reds players have been hurt by the club's poor performances
so far this season.
But the Spain international said a sense of pride had forced
the squad to face up to their problems and he believed their
recent good run showed what could be done when they worked
The Reds, who suffered early exits from the Champions League
and FA Cup, are currently 13 points behind Premier League
However, a six-match unbeaten run in which they have
conceded just one goal has lifted Liverpool to within a
point of fourth-placed Tottenham and rekindled hopes of
Champions League qualification next season.
It has also eased some of the pressure on the
under-achieving players and manager Rafael Benitez.
"It is about pride. We knew we were not in the right
situation," said Reina, who is currently in negotiations
over a new long-term contract at Anfield.
"This club is bigger than that and we had to think about the
fact we were not doing as well as we could. Hopefully we
will start getting better.
"At least we are gaining confidence from this run and that
is why the result is all-important. That has to be the
"There will be more tough moments but our pride is at stake
and, if we stick together, we can come through it."
Pride was a word which cropped up at the end of last week
when Benitez used it to describe his feelings when Juventus
made him their number one summer target.
The Spaniard last night issued a strong rebuttal of claims
he had already agreed terms with the Serie A club and
pledged his long-term future to Liverpool.
Although some of his signings have been questionable,
Benitez has been pivotal to bringing in some of Liverpool's
It is unlikely Reina or Fernando Torres would have been
convinced a move to Merseyside was the right thing for them
had he not been in charge.
To that end those players feel a certain loyalty to the Reds
boss and Reina said his belief in the manager - or his
Liverpool future - had not wavered.
"He brought me here - that says it all," said the
"You only have to look around the stadium to see what the
people think about him.
"There is no point talking about his future. We just play
football because, in tough moments, we have to stick
The cornerstone to Liverpool's mini-revival has been a
return to the type of frugal defending which allowed them to
run Manchester United a close second in the league last
Significantly it has been the unheralded summer bargain buy
Sotirios Kyrgiakos who has stood out in recent matches.
At the time the signing of the £1.5million Greek
international, bought as back up for the well-established
Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, was seen as
symptomatic of the financial problems Benitez has to work
under at Anfield.
He has, however, developed into the type of no-nonsense
nuts-and-bolts centre-half Liverpool need to help grind out
As full-back Glen Johnson is sidelined with a hamstring
problem Carragher has had to be switched to the right and
with Agger only just recovering from a calf injury Kyrgiakos
has filled the void in the centre.
Benitez, who used to be criticised for changing his line-up
too often, has selected the same back four the last three
Reina believes it is no coincidence the team has started to
"Proper teams build from the back and from good defending,"
said the Spaniard, who played in his 100th consecutive
Premier League match in the 2-0 win over Bolton on Saturday.
"It is important to keep a settled back line and the
understanding between those four players will be better if
you don't touch anything.
"Defensively we are better now but it is not just that, it
is the mentality in tough moments.
"People have to be more together and that is what we are
trying to do.
"Let's build from that and try to win as many points as
Benitez coy over Hicks visit
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is too
intelligent not to have drawn his own conclusions over the
significance of the surprise visit of co-owner Tom Hicks to
Anfield on Saturday but he side-stepped questions over what
implications it had for himself.
The American, who together with compatriot George Gillett
has become a hate figure among a large section of fans,
appeared in the directors' box shortly before Saturday's 2-0
victory over Bolton having made the club aware of his
impending arrival just hours earlier.
That he should take in such a low-key match when there is a
Merseyside derby at Anfield next Saturday raised a few
issues, especially in the week when Benitez admitted he was
flattered by the public courting from Juventus who want to
make him their new coach in the summer.
Reports in Italy suggest the Turin club are set to send a
delegation to Merseyside tomorrow to thrash out an agreement
with Liverpool to release Benitez from his contract at the
end of the season.
Whether Hicks' presence was coincidence or part of the
preliminary stages of an exit strategy for the manager only
the Texan knows.
One thing was for certain, however. He was not bringing a
last-minute transfer window war chest for the Spaniard to
spend to help Liverpool secure the Champions League football
which is so vital to their future.
"If he is around I will see him. It is good to see him here.
It is always positive," said Benitez when asked if Hicks had
come for a meeting.
The Liverpool manager stressed that Hicks was not involved
in the club's transfers in any way and his input was not
required nor welcome.
"For us we are working hard on a daily basis with the
managing director so it is not a big difference," added
"We have a managing director and a chief scout and we are
"We don't need more people deciding about any player."
A group of a hundred or so supporters staged a noisy protest
against Hicks and Gillett's running of the club outside the
ground after the match.
Reports today suggest the co-owners' search for outside
investment will see them drop their asking price to around
£100million for up to a 50% share.
Should they be successful that could see the beginning of
the end of the Americans' tumultuous and controversial
tenure at the club but, at the moment, that is still a long
Hansen praises determined Dirk
By Louise Goulding - LFC Official Website
Former Liverpool captain Alan Hansen
believes Dirk Kuyt deserves praise for his attitude and
endeavour in recent weeks.
In the absence of Fernando Torres the task of leading the
line has been passed to Kuyt and the Dutchman recently found
his goal scoring touch against Tottenham, before netting the
opener in Saturday's 2-0 win over Bolton.
Hansen told LFC Weekly: "Dirk Kuyt scored both our goals
against Spurs and that will do his confidence the power of
good following his late miss against Stoke a few weeks
"He might not have played as well as he can this season, but
he never lies down and dies, something which supporters
The former Scotland international has also been impressed
with Kuyt's willingness to play in any position for the
benefit of the team.
"Dirk was signed as a centre-forward, but has adapted to
Liverpool's system by playing wide on the right," he said.
"Learning to play in a different position isn't easy and to
Kuyt's credit, every time he pulls on a red jersey he gives
it his best shot."
Hansen added: "When you are playing out of position, it is a
lot easier to do that in a side that is doing well, compared
to playing in a less familiar role in a side that is
"Again, to his credit, he has never moaned about not playing
up front every week, as some players would, and has simply
got his head down and got on with things."
Liverpool fans protest after
co-owner Tom Hicksí surprise visit
By Joe Bernstein - Daily Mail
Hundreds of Liverpool fans protested
against American co-owner Tom Hicks as he made a surprise
visit to see the game at Anfield yesterday, heightening
speculation about the future of
Club officials were told of Hicks' attendance only on the
morning of the game and the Texan was given a security
escort into the stadium.
But once his presence was spotted by fans, about 500
gathered outside the main Anfield entrance and chanted
'Yanks out' and 'Get out of our club' for 90 minutes. One
banner unfurled on The Kop earlier read 'Yank Liars'.
Hicks and co-owner George Gillett have been hate figures for
many Liverpool fans since they bought the club in 2007.
Hicks' son, Tom Jnr, resigned from the board after sending
an abusive email to a supporter who had questioned the
club's transfer policy.
Hicks' presence at a relatively minor game will lead to
questions about Benitez's long-term prospects at the club.
The Anfield hierarchy are becoming exasperated at Benitez
being linked to other clubs, most recently Juventus last
week. They have written to the Italian club asking them
whether they have illegally 'tapped up' Benitez.
Juve deputy director of football Roberto Bettega is reported
to be a good friend of the Liverpool manager.
Liverpool's directors are unlikely to be pleased with
Benitez's statement that he was 'flattered' to be linked
with the Serie A giants.
Hicks also had business matters to discuss with managing
director Christian Purslow yesterday.
Liverpool are trying to raise £120million that will reduce
the stake of Hicks and Gillett, who was not present
Benitez looks likely to go to Italy in the summer unless
Liverpool's financial situation dramatically changes so he
can compete in the transfer market.
Rafa: Still room
By Jimmy Rice at Anfield - LFC Official Website
Rafa Benitez admits Liverpool's
performance in the 2-0 win over Bolton was far from perfect
- but he believes his side now have momentum heading into
three massive encounters.
It means Liverpool are now six league games unbeaten as they
prepare for fixtures against Everton, Arsenal and City.
Benitez said: "I'm pleased with the result, pleased with the
second half - but not too happy with the first. At the end
of the day we needed to win and we won.
"The first half Bolton had some chances and we were a little
bit lucky. Pepe (Reina) and Soto (Kyrgiakos) were doing well
but the second half was totally different. We were more
controlled and had more opportunities. We could have scored
"I am really happy because we're six games unbeaten and have
more clean sheets. Very good.
"We are improving. You can see the team is working very
hard, and hopefully we can keep the momentum."
Asked how he assessed Steven Gerrard's performance, Benitez
replied: "Stevie was a little bit better. He was trying very
hard, that's the main thing. When we scored the second goal
the team played with more confidence and he was one of the
players who could make a difference."
The gaffer also had words of praise for goalscorer Kuyt,
adding: "It doesn't matter if he plays as a striker or a
winger or second striker, he's always around. He can score
goals and I'm really pleased for him."
Meanwhile, Benitez is not ruling out more transfer activity
before the window closes on Monday - though Ryan Babel looks
set to stay at Anfield.
He said: "We are working. We have a managing director and a
"It's not easy because it's difficult to find better players
than you have already in January. At least we are watching
players and trying to find someone who will be good for the
Quizzed about Babel's immediate future, Benitez added: "He
Kuyt leads way
as Reds beat Bolton
Liverpool kept up the pressure in the race
for fourth place in the Premier League with a 2-0 victory
over Bolton at Anfield on Saturday.
Dirk Kuyt's 49th strike for the club and Kevin Davies' own
goal either side of half-time eventually proved enough in a
performance which was lacking a touch of class if not
Rafael Benitez's side are now unbeaten in six league games,
in which they have conceded just once, and remain on course
to deliver the manager's "guarantee" of Champions League
football next season.
It was also the first time this campaign they have shut out
opponents on three successive occasions, which contributed
to a fourth-successive home victory.
Much of the pre-match focus had been on Juventus' interest
in making Benitez their next full-time coach.
His response to that speculation was to hint that the club's
owners needed to match his ambitions in terms of finances
And with captain Steven Gerrard shackled for long periods by
the man-marking job of Fabrice Muamba the side needed
inspiration from somewhere but struggled to find a cutting
edge without star striker Fernando Torres, who is still
several weeks away from fitness.
That alone will have at least given one of those owners, the
watching Tom Hicks, food for thought.
It will have also given Benitez more ammunition in his bid
to squeeze every last cent out of the Americans who have yet
to fully back their manager with the finances he needs to
compete with Manchester United, Chelsea and even Arsenal -
never mind the likes of multi-billionaires Manchester City.
When Gerrard did see the ball his back-heel from Jamie
Carragher's pass released David Ngog in the area but his
cross-shot from the byline looped up off Zat Knight and into
the arms of Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Wanderers were managing to crowd out Liverpool's tight
passing game in and around the penalty area but when they
did break free Emiliano Insua flashed a cross through the
six-yard box with Kuyt just unable to reach.
The hosts were indebted to Sotirios Kyrgiakos for clearing
Lee Chung-Yong's shot off the line after the South Korean's
diagonal run from the right took him past both centre-backs
and goalkeeper Jose Reina, making his 100th consecutive
Premier League appearance.
Liverpool's pressure eventually paid off in the 37th minute
with a move started by Albert Riera's inch-perfect
crossfield pass to Insua on the left wing.
The Argentinian defender crossed to the far post where
Alberto Aquilani jumped highest to head back into the
six-yard area, and Kuyt stabbed home through Gary Cahill's
Bolton thought they had won a penalty seconds before
half-time when Lee tumbled in the penalty area under
Aquilani's challenge but referee Steve Bennett booked the
South Korean for diving.
Eight minutes into the second half Ngog should have given
Liverpool some breathing space but fluffed his big chance.
Jaaskelainen saved Gerrard's first-time shot from Riera's
cross but the young French striker bundled the rebound into
the floor six yards out and it bounced off the outside of
the post and went wide.
Gerrard tested Jaaskelainen with a driven 25-yard shot which
the goalkeeper parried low to his right before the
replacement of Aquilani with Lucas led to the second goal.
The Brazilian midfielder headed Riera's deep cross back for
Ngog to lay the ball off to Insua who drove in a shot which
was heading wide until it deflected off Davies to wrong-foot
Kuyt's late dribble left Knight on the floor and his cross
had to be turned over the crossbar by Gretar Steinsson as
the pressure continued on Bolton until the final whistle.