Benitez shrugs off the pressure

Discussion in 'Liverpool FC' started by CelticKing, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. CelticKing

    CelticKing The Green Monster

    Sep 7, 2005
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    Benitez shrugs off the pressure as Reds face Marseille crunch</p>

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    MARSEILLE, France (AFP) - Rafael Benitez has shrugged off suggestions that his job could be on the line if Liverpool stumble out of the Champions League here on Tuesday.

    The disjointed display that allowed Marseille to become the first French club to win at Anfield back in October has left Benitez's men needing to win at the Stade Velodrome in their final group A match to ensure they progress to the last 16 of the tournament.

    It is a position few would have predicted at the start of the season, when last season's beaten finals were drawn in what looked like one of the most easily negotiable of groups, and it is one that has certainly not helped to soothe the tensions in Benitez's occasionally fraught relationship with the club's American owners.

    After a surprise 3-1 league defeat by Reading on Saturday, Liverpool's boss knows that failure here followed by defeat against Manchester United at Anfield this weekend will mean he has to contend with suggestions that the club's season is effectively over.

    But if he is feeling the heat, he is not ready to admit it.

    "Personally, I don't feel under any extra pressure," the Spaniard said here on Monday. "For me, we are in a better moment than before. We made a lot of confidence in the other game (against Marseille). But now we know much more about them, we have had them watched for something like ten games in a row and we are more confident."

    Benitez also swatted away a suggestion that this was inevitably the defining week of his and Liverpool's season.

    "It is important," he acknowledged. "But I was hearing the same question one month ago and two months ago. We have lost one game (in the Premier League), the same as Arsenal, and maybe in three months we will be talking again about the most important week of our season.

    "I think we will play more important games because I think we will go through."

    Benitez also made the point that players like Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Fernando Torres, who has shaken off the knock he received in the Reading match, are hardly strangers to high-stakes encounters in intimidating environments.

    "I've said 100 times we have enough experience to win these kind of games," Benitez said.

    "It is not only in the Champions League -- we have won some Cups also, so we know how to play under pressure. If you want to win trophies you must win finals and tomorrow is a final for us.

    "It is clear we made a big mistake at home and now we know the situation. It is not easy to qualify every year. Now we need to make a big effort tomorrow, but that's football.

    "The only situation in which a draw would be enough is if Besiktas win in Porto. So we will try to attack. For us, nothing has changed -- in any final we would have more or less the same idea."

    While Liverpool could yet prove themselves capable of challenging for the league title, Marseille's poor domestic form means their season will effectively be over if they go out.

    The Belgian masterminded the win at Anfield in what was his first match in charge following the sacking of Albert Emon at the end of September.

    "We have proved at Anfield, perhaps our best match of the season, that we can hold our nerve on the big occasion," Gerets said. "That said, Liverpool did not have their best team when they played us.

    "It would be a disaster for Liverpool if they failed to qualify but it would be a disaster for us too because we would have come so close. Liverpool's experience in this kind of match is without doubt an asset and on paper they are favourites.

    "But, on the other hand, matches are not played on paper and we are at home. And this kind of match generates the kind of pressure that a coach adores."

    Marseille's talented young playmaker Samir Nasri has been included in the squad but after being out of action with health problems for much of this season is not thought likely to start.</div></p>

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