Benitez: We've closed gap on United and we're ready to take their league title
Rafa Benitez has insisted Liverpool are ready to close the gap on champions Manchester United and finally end their Premier League hoodoo. Liverpool supporters have suffered for nearly 20 years at the hands of their arch-rivals, with United cleaning up the major silverware and matching their 18 league titles. But Liverpool finished only four points below United last season, and Benitez believes his side have never been closer to Sir Alex Ferguson's men. The Spaniard, who celebrates five years in charge on Tuesday, said: 'If you analyse the number of points (86) you see it's a record for the club in the Premier League. 'We are going forward, we are progressing. For the future this is good news and hopefully this is the beginning of something important. 'In terms of the consistency of the team we've been really good. The squad is better, the mentality is very good and the players are competing for their positions.' Liverpool beat United twice in the league last term, with their victory at Old Trafford in March briefly threatening to derail Ferguson's side. But even though United went on to claim their 18th crown, Benitez has insisted it is only the extra strength in depth of the champions that has proved the difference. He added: 'We won against them twice this year. We've shown we can beat anyone. Clearly we have enough quality in the team. 'The squad is good but against us United had Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Dimitar Berbatov on the bench. 'Each year is different but we are closer, we have more confidence, and the experience of this year will be good for next season. 'You never know but it seems like we are reducing the gap.' Liverpool last won the league title in 1990, when United had only seven to their name, but Ferguson has set about reshaping the outlook of English football since then. Benitez claimed the Champions league and FA Cup in his first two seasons in charge with Liverpool, but after three trophyless seasons many supporters are likely to be demanding the title sooner rather than later.
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