Gerrard admits Liverpool face pressure to push on
By Soccernet staff
October 28, 2008
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has warned him team-mates they have proved nothing yet as they sit on top of the Premier League with just a quarter of the season gone.
Gerrard is wary of showing over confidence after the Merseysiders fell away badly following a good start last season.
The 28-year-old feels Chelsea, who lost their 86-game unbeaten record to the Reds on Sunday, will come back stronger and also that Manchester United will begin to find their form.
Gerrard told The Times: "It's important not to get carried away. We're still only in October. We're in a nice position in the league, but Chelsea are a fantastic side, who will come back, and Manchester United will be there or thereabouts.
"We've won nothing yet. It was a massive win and three big points, but if we slip up against Portsmouth, those points will be irrelevant.
"To win this league and become champions, you have to handle the pressure of being at the top.
"That's the challenge for us now. Can we handle being top of the league? We've done superbly well so far, we're unbeaten, and we have to keep that going now, starting against Portsmouth.''
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An Insight Into the Way Liverpool Buy Players
A lot has been said about Liverpool's scouting network of late. Or, rather, a lot has been hinted in various internet forums about the quality (or lack thereof) of some of Liverpool's scouts. Looking through an Italian newspaper I came across this interview with Mauro Pederzoli, one of Liverpool's leading continental scouts and, whilst it is a bit dated (from the 15th of May 2007 to be precise) I still thought that it gives quite a bit of insight on how Liverpool's scouting is carried out under Benitez.
Here's a translation of this piece by Paolo Brusorio.
"He doesn't count goals when judging a striker". It goes against the logic of pub talk but it is how Rafa Benitez thinks. With Liverpool he's signed a five year contract: he is the Reds' manager in the manner that is habitual in England. He takes care of the team both on and off the pitch, he's given a budget and decides how to spend it. He has his own staff and, since this time at Valencia, has been in synch with Eduardo Macia, the former sporting director of the Spanish side. Yet when he arrived on Merseyside he took on an Italian: Mauro Pederzoli, the former sporting director of Brescia and Cagliari who is now under contract at Liverpool.
Pederzoli met Benitez some fifteen years ago "I lived in Spain where I had worked on the deal which led to (Gigi) Maifredi being made Albacete's manager. Common friends brought us together and he asked me to be his window on Italian football." Since then they never lost touch "one day it would be great to work together" Benitez used to tell him. And then came Liverpool.
Fresh for Pederzoli is the memory of a young Benitez who in the nineties managed to take Extremadura to the Liga. "That Benitez is very similar to the modern day one. He keeps thinking about football twenty four hours on twenty four." Football as a sort of rosary. A hermit of a manager and perhaps a mad one, where the madness comes through work. The name of Arrigo Sacchi comes to mind? Bingo. "The greatest manager of the modern era" is how Benitez calls the former Italy boss. Pederzoli recalls "Rafa used to come a lot to Italy to meet him, to study his methods and to question him. Where do the two meet? The care for each detail of the match, their exasperating work when possession is lost and the method through which players are chosen."
Simple but unbreakable rules that Benitez passes on to his helpers. Benitez doesn't want headline hogging players but discipline, he avoids small players and fancy dans. He looks for "fair and strong" players. Pederzoli says "Put together those players and you get Liverpool. The team that tops the fair play league, no player sent off in the league."
Together they’ve chose players like Agger, Kuyt and Mascherano ("he was strugling with West Ham but we believed in him because we had been following him since his time in South America"). And what of Agger? "The aim was to sign players to replace Carragher and Hyppia. Agger, who played at Broendby, was in the list of players that Benitez told us to follow for a whole year, even during training. We also followed (Daniele) Bonera (then at Parma but now at Milan) but Benitez doesn't like small defenders. We spoke about Cordoba one day and he asked me the height that Inter's defender can reach when jumping. We estimated 2.35 metres. You see, he told me, it only takes Crouch to jump thirty centimeters and Cordoba doesn't even see the ball."
Kuyt instead "has all of Benitez's beliefs, he's the type of strikers he prefers useful when he has the ball, even more when he hasn't" Oh, right, that story of goals and strikers. The strong beliefs of the man who, when criticise for having made Liverpool seem too Spanish started to shuffle the pack. Pederzoli remembers those days clearly. "He never wavered because he has a great self-belief that always gives him strength. He's got fire inside. Benitez in Italy? Here he's very happy and then he wants to win the Premier League."
Benitez keeps thinking about football. It happened also on their honeymoon "He was with his wife Montserrat and I spoke to him about Adriano Bacconi, the first one who applied informatics to football. Benitez asked me to meet him. In the end he spend a whole day with him and his computer whilst his wife waited."
Riera wants Reds to match Chelsea's record
October 28, 2008
Liverpool's new Spanish winger Albert Riera believes the Anfield club must now embark on a record-breaking unbeaten run of their own having ended Chelsea's long-standing sequence of home success.
Liverpool's 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge on Sunday sees them top of the Premier League going into tomorrow's home clash with managerless Portsmouth.
That win ended Chelsea's four-year, 86-game spell of unbeaten home league matches.
Riera, who had an outstanding game in west London, now sees that level of consistency as the only way Liverpool can begin to make their own title dreams come true.
Riera told Liverpool's official website: "Maybe we have beaten the best team in Europe right now. They have started the season very well. They were four years unbeaten at home and we are happy to have stopped this record.
"Now we want to make our own record. It's the best start Liverpool have ever made in the Premier League and we want to keep that going. It is very difficult to create the kind of record like Chelsea did. It's unbelievable to go 86 home matches unbeaten.
"You play every three days and there's a lot of competitive teams. Also, the motivation is always there for teams when they play against the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool.
"But we will try - especially at home because it's very important to win your home games, and it's how you win titles.''
Riera likens the current Liverpool under Rafael Benitez to the Valencia side that won two La Liga crowns under the same coach.
The 26-year-old said: "When I played against Valencia for Real Mallorca it was the same. It was difficult to beat them. A Rafa Benitez team doesn't always have to play well to win because they are very strong tactically and mentally.
"The idea is always very clear and that's very important - every player knows what they are doing when they go on the pitch. The mentality of any Benitez team is always strong. It's always a winning mentality, and that's the feeling I had when I came here.''
He added: "Against Chelsea, we had a clear idea of what we wanted to do. Sometimes you have an idea but then you get out on the pitch and realise it's wrong, but on Sunday we played exactly how we prepared.
"Chelsea are very strong and attack with a lot of players. So, our strikers had to be the first line of defence, and also we couldn't play long balls. We had to play it out from defence and keep the ball because Chelsea aren't as good when they don't have the ball.
"I would compare them in this way to Barcelona or Real Madrid. Our preparation was the key because we were really well drilled on how Chelsea play.''
The winger added: "We are very strong as a team and have a good mentality, but we are only at the beginning of the competition and it's too early to start speaking about titles.''
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