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McManaman: Benitez has got balance right

McManaman: Benitez has got balance right

Former Liverpool legend Steve McManaman has hailed the club's summer spending spree, insisting that Rafa Benitez has finally addressed the balance of his midfield after acquiring the services of wingers Yossi Benayoun and Ryan Babel.

McManaman, who played 274 times, scoring 46 goals as a winger during a 10-year spell at Anfield, is confident that the club have at last found the right-hand side solution in former West Ham player Benayoun, allowing skipper Steven Gerrard to revert to his usual central midfield role.

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"They've certainly had wingers like Kewell and Pennant since I left but I think the manager has at last solved the balance on both wings," said McManaman.

Club record £20 million signing Fernando Torres opened his account on Friday during the 2-0 win over Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, assisted by Benayoun, much to McManaman's delight.

He said: "I know Rafa has been a big fan of Benayoun ever since he was at Racing Santander."

Liverpool face Feyenoord this evening in the final match of the Port of Rotterdam tournament, with Benitez's latest Dutch recruit Babel set to supply compatriot Dirk Kuyt in attack from his natural left-side position - but McManaman has warned Liverpool supporters not to expect too much from the £11.5 million signing just yet.

"A lot of us don't know a great deal about Babel although he did very well for Ajax, scoring a lot of goals, and really came to prominence at the recent under-21 European Championships," he said. "He's a young boy and a great prospect. In three years' time we might be saying Babel is the snip of the century."

Yet McManaman, who began life at Liverpool in the same season the club last won the league in 1989-90, believes there will be little time for the new signings to settle in due to the demand of the supporters who crave an end to their rivals' domestic dominance.

"The league is most definitely the Holy Grail for Liverpool fans. The likes of Gerrard and Jamie Carragher want to win the Premiership every year. Forget the Champions League," he said.

"People are going to expect the new recruits to score lots of goals because of the huge pressure to win the title at Anfield."

  • Steve McManaman is the lead analyst for Setanta Sports, whose live Premier League coverage begins next Saturday with Aston Villa v Liverpool.
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