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Guillem Balague interview with Rafa.

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Benitez opens up on transfers, treachery, Torres, titles - and, of course, tinkeringFrom The TimesMarch 31, 2008The Liverpool manager goes on the record exclusively with TheGame, starting, as he must, with rotationGuillem BalagueLiverpool’s victory over the old enemy yesterday will ease the pressure on Rafael BenÍtez, for whom two Champions League final appearances in three season has not been enough to avoid harsh judgments after another failed title bid. Here he answers his critics.Your way of working has always involved squad rotation. How and why do you take the decision to rotate a player? Are fewer rotations the way forward?First, if you rotate a squad it means you believe in your players and trust in their ability to perform. You want everyone to feel they are working together to achieve our goals. If we win it is thanks to the efforts of everyone, however small their contribution. Look at Vladimir Smicer, who did not play a lot for us [in 2004-05] but scored one of the goals that allowed us to win the Champions League.Every manager with a team in European competitions and with international players, with so many games to play, rotates his squad – call them changes, rotations, they all do it. Nowadays, in comparison to 20 years ago, we play 20 per cent more games in a season. Players run 15 per cent more than they used to and, even more importantly, they run 30 per cent faster.Things have changed in terms of physical demands. The decision to rotate starts by watching my team train – that is a priority for me. I see which players have energy and what players need to rest. You look at a player, talk to your staff, to the doctors, try to analyse the situation and then you chat to the footballer, although he will almost always say that he is ready to play. So sometimes you have to read between the lines to gauge whether they are really fully fit and if they are more tired than they are letting on.Do you feel that Alex Ferguson “changes the team” and you “rotate” or “tinker”?When managers win matches, people talk about how they changed players; if they don’t win, then it becomes “rotation policies”. People make an evaluation of a team without knowing enough about the side. People would say, “Why don’t you just pick the same team?” but they haven’t given the wider issues enough thought.Are you still involved in all the training sessions?I’ve always gone to every training session and I will keep doing this. Maybe from time to time manager obligations force me to miss some parts of training, but it is very rare. It is a priority to be there whenever I can, especially when addressing tactical issues.Why does your Liverpool side not yet look like your old Valencia side?The team that I left at Valencia had had great success and were a strong unit. That side knew what they had to do and destroyed opponents. I think that this Liverpool team has had moments where they’ve played at a similar level, but logically everything takes time.When I arrived at Valencia I found a squad that was already quite dangerous, solid and well put together by Héctor Cúper. When we arrived at Liverpool we found a team that was low in confidence and hadn’t had a winning record. We had to rebuild. None of the players that left us are playing at a club that are of a higher standard than Liverpool.What would your ideal Liverpool side be like - similar to your old Valencia team?Some teams prefer the long game, others the short game. I think there’s always a middle path to take between the two. I like a team that always knows what to do in each moment, a team that knows when it’s time to maintain possession and play the short ball and by the same token a team that knows when it’s time to take a more direct approach.What tactical differences are there between the Premier League and the Champions League? Do you think the less tactical nature of some Premier League games is the reason why your style of play is yet to triumph in the English league?Evidently the Premier League is much more physical and in the Champions League, tactically speaking there are more options open to a manager. When you are talking about long balls and second balls, what you are looking at effectively is a 50-50 scenario. It can go one of two ways. Whoever wins that second ball will either continue attacking or be able to start a counter-attack.What this means is that the Premier League is tactically speaking a more simple or straightforward competition. You can try to control two or three aspects of a game and that’s enough. In the Champions League the tactics become more complex because different styles of play are brought together when different teams from different countries meet.Is the Premier League more straightforward in terms of tactics but more difficult in terms of control of the game?Yes, we are talking about a very physical competition. When you put the ball in the opposition’s penalty area and you fight for it, a physical dimension takes over.So what do Liverpool need to do to win the Premier League?A balance between technical ability and physical strength. We’re a team with enough technical ability to play well and we have enough physical strength to compete, but what we need to do is bring these two elements together so that when key moments arise we are ready and able to compete.Do you favour the Champions League over other competitions? Do your goals for this season change?You start every season here with four objectives. As a manager, you have to be able to manage your resources to get the best out of your squad.In terms of the Premier League we were close at certain points this season, but we drew s e v e r a l games and lost touch, whereas in the Champions League we continued to progress. What happens is that subconsciously your focus turns to the competition you have within your reach.They say that the departure of Pako Ayestarán [the former assistant manager] had a negative effect on the morale and performance of the team. Is that the way you see it? Can you tell us what happened?Pako was much more than a physical trainer, he was my friend and someone I trusted for many years. I worked with him for 11 years. It’s a recent wound that still hurts.Liverpool gave him autonomy and power and I think that changed him a lot – he wanted more and more. One day I found out that he had serious contacts with other teams and that seemed to me a betrayal towards me and the club that I couldn’t accept. He told me he wanted to leave the same day that we played against Toulouse, so I lost someone I trusted greatly, a key member of my staff at a crucial moment in the preseason.Logically, this has an effect on a team. The people that arrived had to adapt and familiarise themselves with a new environment. This meant that a transitional period started at the club, but we still managed to win games and play well. Then, when we started to draw games, people questioned our work.I believe that no one is irreplaceable and we have to keep moving forward. Paco de Miguel took over the role as physical trainer. Also, as a result, I have more of a presence around the team and try to have more involvement with the players.Certain commentators say that if Fernando Torres had played more you could have been challenging for the Premier League title.That has been one of the great lies of this season. There are a lot of people that talk without having thought things through about the number of games Torres has played and the impact that this has had on our performance in the league. Torres did not take part in the victorious games against Toulouse [4-0], Beşiktaş [8-0] and Havant & Waterlooville [5-2].He didn’t make the bench in eight games; for six of these he was injured, which seems to be something that people forget. The other two games were in the FA Cup and Carling Cup, so the theory about our position in the league being down to Torres being missing doesn’t add up.How much did he cost?Whenever we talk about the deal for Torres with Atlético Madrid we always include Luis GarcÍa in the price. The total cost of the operation is around £20 million.Has his success surprised you?You always have confidence in a player that arrives with energy and desire and who has great quality. However, the truth is that he has been a fantastic success. He has already scored 28 goals and the level of play he brings to the side and his commitment to the team is hugely significant.We formulated a plan when he arrived, focusing on trying to keep him up front close to the defenders because with the speed that he has, if you give him a good pass he’ll latch on to it. The problem is, with so many games we haven’t had bags of time to work on specifics. We’ve tried with the group to work on certain technical individual aspects as well as helping the players to learn how to execute at crucial moments.In Fernando’s case this involves tuning up his finishing, for example. We try to find time to work as well on Steven Gerrard’s new role, which he is certainly enjoying.Thirty-one goals out of 56 [in the league] this season have come from Torres and Gerrard. Is that a worry?This shows that they are two players with great timing and quality – they are a great plus for us. But we have to get to a point where other players get on to the scoresheet, too, the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Peter Crouch and Ryan Babel, for instance.In Britain the press do not focus on tactics so much. Do you feel, because of that, your work has been undervalued?Not specifically. It’s true that the press in England talk a lot more about names. Here they talk about the name of the player and the performance of the individual over the collective performance. This is part of the football culture here and I accept it.When I talk to the members of the press that come by here on a regular basis, I get the impression that they know what they’re talking about. I understand that analysis from a distance is harder.People accuse you of not signing properly. And they mention Josemi, Antonio Núñez, Craig Bellamy and even Jermaine Pennant.At a time when we didn’t have endless economic resources, I think that we made good signings in general. We should be talking about players like Reina, Agger, Mascherano, Xabi Alonso, Luis GarcÍa, Torres, Babel, Lucas Leiva, Skrtel and also Arbeloa, Sissoko, Fabio Aurélio, Kuyt. These are players who have brought a lot to the team. And in certain cases – for example, Sissoko and Bellamy – the club gained financially.We have signed 28 players in four years for the first team. Considering that the number of changes we had to make when I arrived and the fact that without much money we have to take more risks, I don’t think this is a disproportionate number.Why does Crouch not play more regularly?We’ve established a system with one main striker and one secondary striker that works quite well. Logically this makes it more complicated for him. We have a striker that has scored 28 goals, so the other players have to work around that. For instance, now if the secondary striker is Gerrard [who has scored 19 goals], logically there are less options for the other players.You talk about differences in spending between Chelsea, Manchester United and yourselves. Arsenal are having success having spent less. What is the right path to follow for Liverpool?I have a rough idea of the figures involved. Chelsea had spent £120 million previously and an additional £240 million to win the league in the 2004-05 season. Manchester United have spent £200 million in recent years. This year on Carlos Tévez, Owen Hargreaves, Anderson and Nani, that cost them more than £70 million. Tottenham have spent £100 million in the last two seasons alone. And Arsenal have spent more or less the same amount as we have on young players with potential.In my four years at Liverpool we have spent £150 million and we have gained somewhere in the region of £70 million. Looking at those numbers, there’s a difference of £20 million per season, yet we have won four [trophies] and played seven finals. When all things are considered, that’s not a bad return. I think that we’re on the right path.Now we can spend money on players if we can earn some by selling players. If we don’t have the £500 million Chelsea spent in recent years, we have to look to lay the foundations in the youth teams and reserve teams and build from there.The players in the reserve team are 17, 18 years old, so they’ll need two, three years to reach the right level and the first team. We are close to making three signings, one for the first team.Is it only money that is the difference with the other top three? Is it also a question of mentality?I think that success breeds confidence and a positive mentality. We won the Champions League [in 2005] and that victory meant that we had the confidence to reach another final in that competition [in 2007]. In the Premier League we have not had the same success, so we are steadily building the same confidence.How much longer would you like to stay at Liverpool?I am very happy and would like to stay here for many more years.What communication have you had with Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr?I have had contact through e-mail with them and also Rick Parry [the chief executive] lets me know what the situation is.
Peoples opinions on this article and certain parts like torres starting money spent and players brought in?

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needs to get hes faact straight on the money spent for onejust saying in a way to make himself look better

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I like the way he didnt bother to defend Pennant.Bye JP it wasnt nice knowing ya. You will be at Liverpools retirement home next season aka Newcastle

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needs to get hes faact straight on the money spent for onejust saying in a way to make himself look better
ok if its wrong tell us what the true facts are?

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needs to get hes faact straight on the money spent for onejust saying in a way to make himself look better
Bait :D

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needs to get hes faact straight on the money spent for onejust saying in a way to make himself look better
LOL, the hate.unless youre united financial advisor or whatever you know as much as he does about money spent and what not. infact perhaps less because you just read it in papers.

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needs to get hes faact straight on the money spent for onejust saying in a way to make himself look better
LOL, the hate.unless youre united financial advisor or whatever you know as much as he does about money spent and what not. infact perhaps less because you just read it in papers.
you f*ck*ng plum, there only undisclosed transfer was Tevez but David Gill and Sir Alex were both quoted as acknowledging it was "very cheap" and plus we havent signed him yet, he is still on loan, Nani and Anderson where never 16 mil and 14 mil straight up even you know that, that information is not hard to find out, most of the transfers were made up bulkly with add-ons & bonuses depending on the clubs and players success, Ice posted the official quote months ago..70 milno waymore like 40

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andddddlol @ him, "in my four years we have spent 150 mil and gained 70 mil" like they are the only club that sell and use the profit to fund transfers, he is just touching his words so it sounds like he has done a wonderful work with a disabled club, over the past four years we have sold Becks, Veron, RVN, Heinze, Rossi all for great figures..Im not even slating, you man just said explain what i meanthe is just slyly making excuses, he states what the other 3 have spent and then states what HE has then saying "we gained somewhere in the region of 70 million" without stating what the others have aswell, he is smoke screening hes answers. lol @ him saying we have spent more or less the same on youngsters as arsenal, when arsenal youngsters go mostly in the first team..and Its funny that out of Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool & Spurs, Benitez is the only one whose transfer record comes under constant scrutiny... speaks for itself that if you ask me..

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lol@trying to say that figures quoted for Nani and Anderson were inflated, then going on about how much Benitez spent based on....figures quoted in the press.

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andddddlol @ him, "in my four years we have spent 150 mil and gained 70 mil" like they are the only club that sell and use the profit to fund transfers, he is just touching his words so it sounds like he has done a wonderful work with a disabled club, over the past four years we have sold Becks, Veron, RVN, Heinze, Rossi all for great figures..Im not even slating, you man just said explain what i meanthe is just slyly making excuses, he states what the other 3 have spent and then states what HE has then saying "we gained somewhere in the region of 70 million" without stating what the others have aswell, he is smoke screening hes answers. lol @ him saying we have spent more or less the same on youngsters as arsenal, when arsenal youngsters go mostly in the first team..and Its funny that out of Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool & Spurs, Benitez is the only one whose transfer record comes under constant scrutiny... speaks for itself that if you ask me..
So do you think the amount rafa has spent compared to got back from sales of players is more than that of man u chelsea or arsenal ??? im not fussed about the youngsters thing our youngsters are tearin up everyone elses in their league in all honesty. His transfer record comes under scrutiny the most, now look at how sh*t the players he had to get rid of when he first came in and all think about the reason he didnt get that much for them. Because you dont get alot of money for players that arent worth alot of money. No one actually looks into how much he has been given to spend at each transfer window and looked into which players the team actaully needed at the time so its easy to slate and alot of people jump on the bandwagon because it papers etc their hearin it from n they cant b assed to look into it proply themselves before slating. We used to get priced out of buying so many players e.g. simao, quaresma, alves but people like fergie etc will never have that problem so once again its easy to slate. If fergie had come in as a new manager recently and took as long as he did to win the league he would get alot of stick aswell but people always, always make excuses when you mention how long it took him to win the league. Rafa gets too much stick from people who dont wanna look into all the small details instead of just picking out certain things. none of them four have had to completely overhaul a squad though have they except chelsea when jose came in and look how much money he was given in one go to do that. Give rafa that kind of money in one go and he can buy his first choice signings rather than his second, third choice ones like pennant. and people forget the fact that when you need more players for certain positions and your money is limited you have two choices, go for one first choice player for one position and risk being priced out of getting him and leaving other positions unnaccounted for or buy second third choice and cover the postions that actually need coverin. and as for tottenham look at them this season and people are saying there transfers dont come under scrutiny, maybe they should look where they expected to be at the start of the season compared to where they are SMH. Its all good and well comparin rafa to fergie but man u fans dont even realise fergie has had the same kinds of problems and been through the same kind of sh*t when he was starting at man u so he knows, he has said before how much respect he has for rafa and how good a manager he is. Rafa is an easy target for the press and until people realise that they will continue to slate with bullshit rather than looking into it deeply asin the small details as well as the big. Imagine getting snaked by your assistant of like 11 years and then finding out your job was offered to someone else behind your back and coming through it without even getting all pissed and making bare excuses for the season. SHOWER MANAGER. he has done more than expected with the money he recieved and people love this bangwagon sh*t its some joke. Talking bout shouldnt have rested torres earlier in the season without even looking into when he was rested and the reasons coz they saw it in a paper they automatically agree with it wtf.

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andddddlol @ him, "in my four years we have spent 150 mil and gained 70 mil" like they are the only club that sell and use the profit to fund transfers, he is just touching his words so it sounds like he has done a wonderful work with a disabled club, over the past four years we have sold Becks, Veron, RVN, Heinze, Rossi all for great figures..Im not even slating, you man just said explain what i meanthe is just slyly making excuses, he states what the other 3 have spent and then states what HE has then saying "we gained somewhere in the region of 70 million" without stating what the others have aswell, he is smoke screening hes answers. lol @ him saying we have spent more or less the same on youngsters as arsenal, when arsenal youngsters go mostly in the first team..and Its funny that out of Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool & Spurs, Benitez is the only one whose transfer record comes under constant scrutiny... speaks for itself that if you ask me..
LOl @ getting angry about it. Benitez transfer record isnt the only one that comes under constant scrutiny. Even when he makes a valid case, people still manage to chat breeze.How could spurs not come under more scruntiny, considering where they are in the league and how much they spent. And Chelseas has come under constant scrutiny. United & Arsenal have had their managers their for a long long time, earlier in their careers im sure they were under scrutiny for a number of transfers.You never made great profit on RVN or Veron Or Heinze if i remember correctly, he was merely answering the question so i dont see what the problem is. Everyone always talks about like they know what liverpool spend, as soon as someone says something about what theyhave spent they start talking about appearance fee this and that sh*t. like no1 else does it.

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Bare of its from papers. If the newspaper bandwagon begins with some BS story about blah blah he spent this much over 4 years rather than how much it was each window and what needed to be done to the squad AND what players it was he wanted to fill those positions bare people jump on cos its so easy to slate and people will agree with it without looking into it all. and going on about paying full price for a player as opposed to a certain amount with add ons, has anyone looked into what players liverpool may have done that not many atall im guessin but as i said before its easier to slate when you can just agree with someone else that hasnt looked into it either. People need to fix up before they start tryin 2 say sh*t about a situation they havent properly looked into.

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andddddlol @ him, "in my four years we have spent 150 mil and gained 70 mil" like they are the only club that sell and use the profit to fund transfers, he is just touching his words so it sounds like he has done a wonderful work with a disabled club, over the past four years we have sold Becks, Veron, RVN, Heinze, Rossi all for great figures..Im not even slating, you man just said explain what i meanthe is just slyly making excuses, he states what the other 3 have spent and then states what HE has then saying "we gained somewhere in the region of 70 million" without stating what the others have aswell, he is smoke screening hes answers. lol @ him saying we have spent more or less the same on youngsters as arsenal, when arsenal youngsters go mostly in the first team..and Its funny that out of Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool & Spurs, Benitez is the only one whose transfer record comes under constant scrutiny... speaks for itself that if you ask me..
LOl @ getting angry about it. You never made great profit on RVN or Veron Or Heinze if i remember correctly, he was merely answering the question so i dont see what the problem is.
not getting angry about it, i said before im not slating just statingi didnt mean profits like that, i meant good value when we sold them

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reeh Swear Veron cost Man U 28.1 Mill?? Didnt kno profit was made from that sale!!I think the point Rafa is making is that he has come to a club that doesnt have the resources to spend on RIO RVN OR ROONEY.....So he has been given lets say 40 mill 2 spend a season when he needs to rebuild a team? How is he supposed to compete when Man U fresh from winnin the league last yr spend like 50 mill on another 3 players ,when rafa is allocated the same amount to buy 6 or 7? Which is y u will see the pennats and the josemis. As you may of noticed since the funds from the Americans have enabled him to spend 20 mill + on 1 player (Torres) 17mill on a next (mascherano) two WC players no doubt.. Something Man U and Chelsea have been doing for yrs. As I said b4 this season LFC's Transfer record was 14 Million for 1 player, and it wasnt even Benitez's Signing..Even Arsenals was Transfer rec was higher than tht!!

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needs to get hes faact straight on the money spent for onejust saying in a way to make himself look better
LOL, the hate.unless youre united financial advisor or whatever you know as much as he does about money spent and what not. infact perhaps less because you just read it in papers.
you f*ck*ng plum, there only undisclosed transfer was Tevez but David Gill and Sir Alex were both quoted as acknowledging it was "very cheap" and plus we havent signed him yet, he is still on loan, Nani and Anderson where never 16 mil and 14 mil straight up even you know that, that information is not hard to find out, most of the transfers were made up bulkly with add-ons & bonuses depending on the clubs and players success, "that guy" posted the official quote months ago..70 milno waymore like 40
all this talk of add ons etc doesn't count for much because at the end of the day everyone knows Man Utd have been splashing crazy cash around for years, the funny thing is once someone came along who could compete with you on that level all you heard was 'Chelsea bought the premiership'. Rafa's budget has to spread more thinly over a larger number of players which means theirs always a higher element of risk with the players he buys.

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As I said b4 this season LFC's Transfer record was 14 Million for 1 player, and it wasnt even Benitez's Signing..Even Arsenals was Transfer rec was higher than tht!!
13m is our transfer record.

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The thing with Rafa and money is yes he has to spread it around, but why does he pay millions for players even he knows are stop gaps? Just buy your top targets & jam for a year...

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This Rafa guy aint seriousLook how long its taken him to field a settled team and formation..Pellegrino, Morientes, Nunez etc, he has disgraced LFC with the Euro-trash hes broughtOff the pace yet again in the league, they have gone backwards this season (they will finish 4th/5th and without a trophy) yet they have a 30 goal striker...If you gave Moyes & Redknapp a 30 goal striker they would do much better than Rafa.

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