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Rafa Benitez’s signings add weight to strike options

Rafa Benitez’s signings add weight to strike options

Aug 8 2007

by Tommy Smith, Liverpool Echo

Fernando Torres with his Liverpool number 9 shirt - Picture: Martin Birchall

GOALS, or the lack of them, have been a major stumbling block to Liverpool’s title ambitions in the past.

But I think the approach by Rafa Benitez this season will be far more adventurous.

His moves in the transfer market have considerably strengthened the side and add weight to the prospect of the Anfield boss playing two or three up front, rather than one.

I certainly hope that is the case.

We look pretty solid behind the front line and, with more goal power provided by the likes of Fernando Torres – I feel he can get us 20 goals a season – the Reds will prove a different proposition. It’s the only way to scare the opposition and put them under pressure.

Generally, the Reds’ pre-season games were played in second gear. I don’t believe they are designed to excite the fans. Results are not important. It is all about getting fit.

They seemed to play well within themselves on tour and it will only be at Villa Park this weekend that Benitez will let the team off the bridle.

If he does take the shackles off, and they begin against Villa with all guns blazing, we might get an insight into what Liverpool will be like as an attacking force away from home. I think we will see a different team.

I can’t see the Premiership picture changing much this season, though.

It’s going to be the same again with United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal the main contenders. I doubt any other team will make a case in the title reckoning. The top four are so far ahead of the rest and, while there might be the odd surprise result, the others lack the necessary consistency to make a challenge.

Manchester United have improved again, Chelsea will struggle a bit because they don’t appear to have the flair of previous seasons, while Arsenal may have a good crop of younger players – we all remember what happened at Anfield last January – but showed later in the campaign they needed a few older heads to help them out.

As far as the Reds are concerned, there is a high expectation and anticipation of better things to come. Yes, I am really looking forward to Saturday’s big kick-off.

Your support is helping me fight back to fitness

I HAVE been overwhelmed by the wonderful response from Liverpool supporters far and wide after my heart attack and subsequent heart by-pass operation.

The good wishes of fans have been flooding in, while so many people have dropped in to see me, like old team-mates, and Jamie Carragher, to lift my spirits.

I attended a dinner last year at Carrickfergus Liverpool Supporters Club and they sent me a marvellous gift of a mirror commemorating the European Cup triumph of 1977. The ECHO also sent me a framed montage of my career through the years.

Many cards did not carry addresses, so I would like to thank them through my column, for their kind thoughts. Others I have already written back to.

I am feeling better day by day, but I am visiting the specialist tomorrow when I am hoping he will give me the go-ahead to step up my return to fitness.

But, once again, thank you so much for your best wishes.

It underlines yet again that Liverpool’s fans are the best in the world.


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