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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 January, 2005, 12:55 GMT
Morientes to cast off Ronaldo shadow

By Radomir Antic
Former Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona coach

Fernando Morientes
He's had a difficult time at Real Madrid
Radomir Antic
Fernando Morientes is a very good player, a good signing for Liverpool.

I should know - when I was manager at Atletico Madrid I tried to sign him, but I couldn't get him and he joined Real Zaragoza instead.

Liverpool are signing a player with great experience, an international who has played in Spain and France.

He knows what it takes to win titles - the European Cup three times with Real, in 1998, 2000 and 2002, as well as La Liga league titles in 2001 and 2003.

Not only that but he made his debut as a 17-year-old in Spain - you don't do that unless you're a very good player.

He's a versatile striker in that he can score goals in the box, but also outside it.

He can hold up the ball, he's exceptional in the air and he can also take free-kicks.

But he's had a difficult time at Real Madrid since the arrival of Ronaldo.

He's had to get used to being a substitute and over the last few years he's never really had the chance to play regularly.

It hasn't been a very pleasant few months, but now I'm very happy
Fernando Morientes

Remember before Ronaldo came to Madrid, Morientes formed a very effective partnership with Raul.

It's very hard for a striker if you're a perpetual substitute. You're sent on with a few minutes to go and more often than not you're being asked to win the game or rescue it.

That's really tough for a player and he'll hope when he comes to Liverpool he's going to play on a more regular basis.

The way he played at Monaco last season gives you an indication of what Liverpool can expect if he's given the chance to feature regularly.

Fernando Morientes
Morientes has had to live in the shadow of Ronaldo

Without Morientes I don't think Monaco would have reached the Champions League final last season.

For him to have finished as the top scorer in the Champions League with nine goals with a side that started as rank outsiders is nothing short of remarkable.

Importantly Monaco's manager Didier Deschamps had a lot of faith in him.

I think Morientes responded to that - it's key for any striker they have the faith of their manager.

Even so I'm a bit surprised that Rafael Benitez has signed him.

Whenever I've seen Morientes play he's looked most comfortable playing in a 4-4-2 formation.

But that's a tactical formation that Benitez has never utilised - invariably his teams play 4-5-1 - for example Harry Kewell and Luis Garcia working behind Milan Baros.

Morientes is best playing as the second striker - he thrived at Monaco where he dropped back to play behind or alongside Ludovic Giuly.

I'm not sure Morientes has quite got the pace now to be the front striker.

So it will be interesting to see how Morientes adjusts to life under Benitez.

He will also need time to adjust to English football. It's so much faster and very different from the tempo that he would have been used to in Spain and France.

Even with that proviso he is a good signing - a quality signing - and with the exception of Xabi Alonso, Benitez has not had the chance to sign that type of player since coming to Liverpool.






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