some stuff from rafa today that hints at his approach, and why it's calculated rather than some kind of character flaw... all this is designed to promote certain behaviours within the squad.http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-fc/liverpool-fc-news/2008/11/17/rafa-benitez-happy-to-have-angry-substitutes-64375-22271999/ BENITEZ HAPPY WITH 'ANGRY' SUBSTITUTES
17 November 2008
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez says he is pleased to see his players angry when they are substituted as it shows the winning mentality needed to end the club’s long title wait.
After enduring a frustrating afternoon Robbie Keane was withdrawn by Benitez less than an hour into the game at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.
Although Keane's replacement Fernando Torres made an instant impact, setting up Steven Gerrard for Liverpool's second goal, the Irish international striker looked disappointed.
However, Benitez insists he is encouraged by the former Tottenham man's frustrations as it shows the character needed to compete at the top of the Premier League.
He said: "If we're at the top of the table, players need to accept that I will change it if that's what is best for the team. It is difficult, and Robbie is working very hard, but clearly it was a different type of football in the second half, more suited for Fernando.
"We know Robbie is a very, very good professional and he wants to play 90 minutes all the time, but players have to respect the decisions because we are doing what we think is best for the team.
"But a player has to be disappointed at coming off – that's what I want to see.
"The response always has to be that you work even harder for the next game. It has to be like that in a winning team – you have to compete for the positions and that is a positive thing. Robbie knows the team will always be the important thing so I don't need to speak to him about it (being substituted)."
With Liverpool having gone toe-to-toe with Chelsea at the Premier League's summit for most of the season so far, Benitez believes that many of their rivals now consider them serious title contenders.
He said: "This season we can win games now sometimes even when we are playing badly. But the atmosphere and mood is really good, the confidence is really high.
"People always say how crucial it is to get a good start, how crucial this part of the season is, how crucial Christmas is. Well we will see after that, but clearly it is much better this season.
"You can see the players doing better because they know others teams are thinking 'We've got to be careful, we're playing Liverpool and they are at the top of the table.'
"Now it's important to stay there, but obviously we have better players now.
"The squad is so much stronger – the ones on the pitch are good, but now also the ones who are on the bench."
Despite Benitez maintaining that his record signing is not fully fit, Torres' introduction for the final half an hour stretched Bolton's defence and created the visitors' second goal.
Given the tight nature of the game before then, the Liverpool manager admits that he needed to make the switch.
He said: "The game changed a lot. In the first half there was plenty of passing, but in the second they played more long balls and it was more physical, so we couldn't control the passing the same.
"It needed a long, penetrating pass for the strikers and with Fernando's pace we were more dangerous. After the first half of pass, pass, pass we couldn't do that, and Fernando is always a threat because he's so quick and can beat players on his own.
"I have said we've got plenty of room for improvement. Steven Gerrard wasn't playing at his level, others weren't at their best and Torres wasn't fit.
"Now, if Torres stays fit and keeps his momentum, Mascherano is improving, so is Stevie, so we have many more options."
---http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/news/drilldown/N162065081117-1056.htm RAFAEL BENITEZ ON STEVEN GERRARD
Rafael Benitez 17 November 2008
In this modern footballing world, it's amazing to see one player stay at the same club for ten years.
Because there is so much pressure on managers and so much money being spent, you see teams changing their players all the time - but the fact Steven has stayed at Liverpool for so long says everything about the quality of the player and the mentality of the man.
Before I arrived at Liverpool I - along with all the other managers - knew of Gerrard. But it's not until you see him every day in every training session that you realise how good he is. I quickly discovered he was very good technically, very strong and someone who would give everything in every session. His commitment every time he steps onto the field is fantastic.
On the pitch there are so many memories which come to mind when you think of his performances over recent years. But for me, as my captain, it's his influence off the field on the other players which is just as important.
We will never forget his goals against Olympiacos, West Ham and in the final against AC Milan - but it's the way he leads by example which is perhaps most impressive.
A captain has to perform during games, while off the pitch he has to set a good example and push his teammates all the time. He has all these qualities and that's what makes him such a good captain for this team.
I think he is still getting better and am confident there is even more to come from him in the future. Over recent seasons he has improved tactically because he has played in a number of different positions and for me, at the moment, he is the best attacking midfield player in the world.
I know Jamie Carragher has said he wouldn't swap him for anybody else and I would have to agree with that. In terms of quality you can always change one player for another, but in terms of quality, mentality and commitment then I wouldn't swap Steven for anybody.
I know how determined he is - like the rest of us - to get his hands on the Premier League title and hopefully that dream will come true for all of us sooner rather than later.