Benitez: Liverpool have never looked so good - and I was right to sell Alonso

17 November 2009 11:36
Rafa Benitez has defended his record at Liverpool, insisting the club is in much better shape than when he arrived and that the sale of Xabi Alonso was essential to bring in fresh talent.  

With just  one victory in the previous nine matches, Benitez has had to face growing calls for him to be sacked as the club languish in seventh place in the Barclays Premier League, 11 points behind leaders Chelsea and in danger of dropping out of the Champions League at the group stage.

But the Spaniard has come out fighting, insisting the future looks bright at Anfield.

He said: 'In 2004 the squad was worth, what, £100 million? Now perhaps we have one player worth that. The whole squad? Maybe £250 million. The club was nearly sold for £85 million five years ago. Now the price is £500 million. We must be doing something right.

Pointing the way: Benitez believes he is taking the club in the right direction

'We are much better now than we were three or four years ago in every single thing - in the commercial department, the marketing department, in football.'

'The majority of the fans, especially the ones who go to the stadium, realise the team is working and improving, and is better than before. To achieve 86 points in the league last season is part of the progression. The direction of the club is right. But everyone wants to win and we are disappointed when we don't win any game or any trophy.'

Main man: Torres has become vital to Benitez's side since arriving two years ago

Benitez went on to defend his record in the transfer market - £225m has been shelled out on new players over the past five years with a net spend in excess of £80m but admitted that, on occasions, he has to take risks with his purchases.

'When we have spent big, normally it's been very good business,' he said. 'Torres, Mascherano, Reina, Alonso. Keane is a good player but we had to sell him because he was not playing at the level we knew he could play. Ryan Babel was signed for the future and we are waiting for his improvement. He has to be more consistent.

'With the fringe players, we needed to take a gamble on Bosmans and one, two million-pound players. Some of these players have not been good enough for us. It is a risk you have to accept when there is not too much money about,' he said.

Steven Gerrard recently admitted that he was 'devastated' after the departure of midfield lynch-pin Alonso and Liverpool have been struggling ever since his £30m move to Real Madrid in the summer but Benitez dismissed rumours that he left because the two fell out.

Happier times: Gerrard has admitted Liverpool have suffered since Alonso left

He told The Times: 'He put in a transfer request. We had a professional and good relationship. Some people say the manager must put his arm around the player's shoulder. I don't know too many managers who do this.

'Some managers here in England don't even see the training sessions. How can you put your arm around the shoulders of the players if you are not there?'

But the Liverpool boss is adamant that he has found a perfect replacement for Alonso and a real bargain in Alberto Aquilani - now that he's fit to play.

'Signing Aquilani for £17 million from Roma to replace Alonso was great business. We can only buy one or two big, £20 million players a year,' Ben?z said. 'If we want to have money available, then we have to sell some players. We have to sell expensive and buy as cheaply as possible.

Missing man: Aquilani is finally starting to make appearances for Liverpool

'Aquilani fit would be £20-30 million. We checked with doctors and they said he would be out one, maybe two months. We have lost some time, but I signed the player for five years, not five weeks. We needed to take the risk.'

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Source: Daily_Mail