Benitez - Premier League title or bust
Rafael Benitez has admitted that his reign as Liverpool manager would be a failure if he is unable to bring the Premier League to Anfield.
The Spaniard has been in charge of Liverpool since 2004 and feels that, despite leading the team to Champions League glory in 2005, he would be extremely disappointed if he did not guide them to their first ever Premier League title.
Speaking to The Times, Benitez conceded: "Anyone who knows me knows that I want to win every trophy, every game. But if you ask me what I prefer, I will say the Premier League. If I do not win the title, I'm sure I'd be so disappointed maybe I would have this feeling [of failure]."
It is now almost 20 years since the Merseyside club were last crowned champions and, under Benitez, they almost failed to even qualify for the 2005/06 Champions League.
Rivals Everton, who finished fourth the year before, managed to break the top four's monopoly and Liverpool were saved only by their title of European Champions.
The former Valencia boss has spent a net amount of around £90 million in order to try and satisfy his need for silverware. One player he failed to sign, though, was Gareth Barry, a decision he rues.
Benitez said: "When we wanted to sign Barry, we were sure we were signing a good player with a very good mentality and the quality to play in the Premier League.
"The plan was to play Barry on the left and feed the ball to Robbie Keane, who would play up front with Fernando Torres. This blueprint had to be scrapped [as Barry decided to stay at Aston Villa]."
Keane was eventually sold back to former employers Tottenham Hotspur and Barry ended up at free-spending Manchester City, who Liverpool face this weekend.
Some good news for Benitez is that three important players are back in training and are hopeful of featuring at Anfield. Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson have been sorely missed by the Reds as they have just one win in six league games and are on the brink of Champions League elimination at the group stage.
The title, for this season at least, is looking a distant dream for the 18-time champions but, with their captain and half of their defence back, an improvement could be just around the corner.
By David Brenchley
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