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Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez hits back at his critics

Barclays Premier League
Venue: Anfield Date: Sunday, 13 December 2009 Kick-off: 1600 GMT
Coverage: BBC Sport website, full match commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio Merseyside 95.8 FM, 1485 AM and DAB, live on Sky Sports 1 & highlights on Match of the Day 2


Benitez 'switches off' critics

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has hit back at Jurgen Klinsmann after the former Germany star attacked his record and the quality of the Reds' squad.

Klinsmann had echoed the concerns of ex-Reds boss Graeme Souness, who warned of a potential "meltdown" at Anfield.

But Benitez said: "There is always criticism but I don't listen. I turn off the volume on the TV."

The Spaniard added sarcastically: "Both have fantastic records as managers, so the fans ignore what they say."

Ex-Germany and Bayern Munich boss Klinsmann, who was linked with taking over the managerial reins at Anfield only two years ago, said this week that Liverpool lacked creativity, quality and consistency.

Finnan off for Hamman

Klinsmann guided Germany to the World Cup semi-finals on home soil in 2006, but his tenure at Bayern lasted less than a season before he was sacked in April.

Benitez responded to Klinsmann's criticism by saying: "I think he was an expert in marketing. His management career? Short."

Liverpool, who signed off from their disappointing Champions League campaign with a home defeat by Fiorentina on Wednesday, are looking to regroup for the second half of the season.

The Reds, who lie seventh in the Premier League and have only won three of their last 14 games in all competitions, take on Arsenal on Sunday in a game that will be vital for their hopes of a top-four finish.

Souness, who had an unsuccessful stint as Liverpool boss between 1991 and 1994, has grave concerns over the consequences for his old club if they fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.

But Benitez, who is boosted by having Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Alberto Aquilani fit at the same time for the first time this season, is upbeat about his side's prospects.

"Now let's see whether we can improve our position and get into the top four," Benitez said.

We are out of the Champions League and we are really far away from the top of the Premier League, so we have to change our targets

Fernando Torres

"We can improve, we can be in the top four and we can win a trophy. It is only what you would expect from a top side.

"We have had a bad spell but we are still very close to the top four. And our top players are available. We must start again, maybe it will be too late (in the league), you never know."

Liverpool are 12 points behind top-of-the-table Chelsea after 15 games and Torres believes that hopes of winning a trophy lie in other competitions.

The Spanish star, who came off the bench to play 30 minutes against Fiorentina in midweek after more than a month out with a groin injury, explained: "We are out of the Champions League, we are really far away from the top of the Premier League, so we have to change our targets.

"We have to look to the Europa League, the FA Cup as the only competitions we can win this season. And making sure that we stay in the top four."

Torres has scored 10 goals in 14 games so far this campaign and hopes to stay fit to help his side achieve their aims.

"I know I am considered one of the key players and people are expecting a lot from me, plenty of goals, and my team mates expect that from me too.

"But for me it is just nice to be back fit, and for me to try to make those things possible. I just want to play and to help the team.

"After the injuries I have to prove that I am able to live up to those expectations. Hopefully we can now play together as a team, much better than we have been doing now."

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see also
Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal
13 Dec 09 |  Premier League
Benitez eyes fresh start for Reds
10 Dec 09 |  Liverpool
Liverpool 1-2 Fiorentina
09 Dec 09 |  Europe
Win is a turning point - Benitez
30 Nov 09 |  Premier League

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