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Alan Hansen's column

Alan Hansen
By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

It's not been a bad week for Liverpool. Beating Real Madrid 4-0 in the Champions League, the 4-1 victory over Manchester United in the Premier League at Old Trafford and now Rafael Benitez has signed a long-term contract.

It was badly needed and provides some stability. All that is needed now is for the co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to come to an agreement and move forward.

Rafa Benitez
Liverpool were "awesome" in beating Real Madrid, says Hansen

A new stadium is also a priority as far as everyone is concerned. There is no way you can compete with Manchester United when they are getting home gates of 76,000 and you can only fit in 44,000 in Anfield.

The club are going in the right direction - the results against Real and United prove that - but Benitez needs another pot of money in the summer to buy the players to make Liverpool all powerful again.

The owners, as well as the chief executive and chairman, have to give the manager the money and then he must decide who he wants to buy.

Nobody else can decide the transfer policy. The board can say how much money he can have, whether it's £5m, £10m or £20m, but what happens with that money is the priority of the manager - and nobody else.

I suppose that is what Rafa fought for and he has obviously won the battle - and rightly so. A manager has to be single-minded.

The only way you can survive in football is by backing your own judgment. If you are backing someone else's, it's a recipe for disaster.

This year the priority was to get close to Manchester United. At times we thought Liverpool might win the Premier League, but United are still in pole position.

Liverpool need to have more strength in depth and that is why Manchester United are so powerful.

United have got virtually two teams and have so many players that come in and do more than just a job when Sir Alex Ferguson is rotating his team.

That's where Liverpool have fallen down and particularly when they haven't had Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard in the side.


Against the smaller teams at Anfield, when they have rotated, the players haven't been good enough to turn them over.

The only way to rectify that is to buy better players and to do that you need to spend money.

The club is massive, with a tremendous tradition and tremendous history.

The biggest thing is that they are getting closer and when they put their best team on the pitch they can compete and they have proved that this season. They are the team to beat in the Champions League.

Alan Hansen was talking to BBC Radio 5 Live.

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see also
Benitez signs long-term Reds deal
18 Mar 09 |  Liverpool
Benitez targets faultless run-in
16 Mar 09 |  Premier League
Title race is back on - Hiddink
16 Mar 09 |  Chelsea
Defiant Ferguson demands response
15 Mar 09 |  Premier League
Man Utd 1-4 Liverpool
14 Mar 09 |  Premier League

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