Rafa hits back at Pennant
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has aimed a swipe back at Jermaine Pennant following the Englishman's criticism of his methods. Pennant hit out at Benitez's man-management skills after accusing the Spaniard of turning him into a robot during his time at Anfield. The Real Zaragoza man also criticised Dirk Kuyt, who took Pennant's place in Benitez's side, labelling the Dutchman as a failed forward who was accommodated in the team because of his high transfer fee. Benitez has jumped to Kuyt's defence, hailing the Dutchman's team ethic in not complaining when being converted from a striker to a winger and also suggesting Kuyt would be willing to play anywhere for the Liverpool cause. "I saw what he [Pennant] had to say, but I don't intend saying too much about him," said Benitez. "Kuyt's record is there for everyone to see and he doesn't need me to defend him. You only need to look at the impact he has made to see he is picked on merit and has become an extremely important member of our squad. "He speaks out on the pitch and doesn't have to say a single word to justify his place. He is a striker who is as effective on the wing or as second striker, and, as you can see from his record, he scores goals as well as working hard. "He is the sort of player who would be good for any manager. We signed him then extended his contract because we knew he was an excellent player and outstanding professional. I could put him in central defence and he would be as good as anyone." Kuyt's importance to Liverpool is illustrated in that he is only two goals away from equalling Reds legend Ian Rush's tally of 14 European Cup goals. The former Feyenoord man admits it would be an honour to join the likes of Rush in the Liverpool record books and he is at a loss to explain why he is so prolific in Europe compared to the Premier League. "To have the chance to maybe draw level with someone like Ian Rush is unbelievable," said Kuyt. "He is one of the biggest names in the history of Liverpool and it would give me a great feeling if I could manage to do that. "The milestones are nice but, if you don't have anything to go with them like a trophy, then it is not the same. "I'm not sure why it has gone so well for me. "I don't try and do anything different from in the Premier League but I do feel confident going into big Champions League games."
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