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Rafa Benitez: Liverpool new boys raise the bar

Rafa Benitez: Liverpool new boys raise the bar

Jul 19 2007

by Chris Bascombe, Liverpool Echo

Liverpool new boy Fernando Torres, at Anfield, with manager Benitez - Picture: Martin Birchall

RAFA BENITEZ believes his summer spending spree is already having a galvanising impact on the battle for starting places this season.

The Liverpool boss says the arrival of players of the calibre of Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun is not only improving the quality of the squad, but prompting established stars to raise their game.

Benitez senses many of his stars are working even harder to impress during the pre-season games, and that bodes well for the campaign ahead.

“I’ve said many times my idea at Liverpool was to build a squad with at least two good players for each position,” explained the manager.

“What’s important is that the standard of all these players is now very high. That’s the key for me. Over the course of eight or nine months of the season we will have injuries and suspensions, but when everyone is fit you will see all the players working very hard to be at their best for every game. That means the quality across the whole squad improves.

“Maybe you can see already how hard the players are working.”

Benitez also believes players who arrived at the club last season, such as Jermaine Pennant, have the capacity to step up another level and build on a promising opening campaign.

“It’s too soon to start talking about what players will do this season, but you can see we have players such as Pennant and Benayoun who have the ability to change a game,” said Benitez.

“We know they have the ability to do things on the pitch which others cannot and the key is to see them always trying to make a difference on the pitch. Pennant ended last season very well and has shown some good movements in the games we have played so far. Already a lot of our players are showing their quality.

“But we must be careful when talking about these games. People should remember the players have still trained on the same day as they’ve played in the matches so they are not at their level yet.

“We have seen a lot of positive play already. It’s good for us we are scoring goals and creating a lot of chances, but it’s normal the balance between our defence and attack isn’t what it should be yet. On Tuesday, it was also a very physical game with a good tempo.”

Plans for Brazilian midfielder Lucas to train with the squad in Switzerland have been shelved.

He’ll stay at Melwood with the reserves while the club seeks to resolve his passport problems.

Liverpool play their second Swiss game against Auxerre tomorrow before jetting to Hong Kong.

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