columnist Rob Facey looks ahead to tomorrow's Merseyside Derby
and looks at Gerrard's comments regarding Benitez's impact on his own game.
Liverpool will make the short journey across Goodison Park
tomorrow lunchtime with skipper Steven Gerrard giving their under fire boss a
The knives have been put away for the time being at Anfield
after an impressive start to the season, typified by their victory over Man
United in the Premier League.
They will be hoping to continue lurking around the summit of
the league by picking up three points in Saturday's early kick-off and their
captain has defended his manager, who came in for a lot of stick last season,
by stating that he wouldn't be the all action player he is today if it wasn't
for Rafa Benitez.
"Rafa has taken my
game to the next level," Gerrard said, as reported by Sky Sports.
"OK, he has played me in a number of
different positions, but I feel a lot more comfortable now in that I can play
almost anywhere on the pitch.
"I'd prefer to have a manager like
Rafa, who tells me where I'm going wrong and where I need to readjust slightly.
"He's the kind of manager who doesn't
let anything go. I've played for managers who perhaps won't pull you on the
things you're doing wrong. That's not going to get you anywhere, is it?"
Spanish boss has been ridiculed and criticized in England for his eagerness to
alter team selections and formations regardless of results and was the fall guy
for a lot of board room squabbles last season.
the whole Klinsmann affair, with the former Germany coach being approached as a
possible replacement, and this summer the Gareth Barry saga culminating in the
board refusing to give him the funds to make the transfer, so Gerrard's words
of praise will be music to Benitez's ears.
that Benitez seems to have silenced his critics, both at the club and in the
media, could this really be Liverpool's season? Will the Reds pick up a vital
away win tomorrow? If they don't and Arsenal and Chelsea win and move further
ahead, then last week's frustrating draw with Stoke will seem even more
the game Gerrard will score his 100th goal for the club? How much
credit does the Spaniard deserve for turning him into one of the worlds best
midfielders? Has Benitez helped Gerrard become a more rounded player, or
hindered him from becoming unquestionably the worlds most outstanding central
basing the team around him, rather than relying on Gerrard to sort things out
from wherever he was on the pitch been more beneficial to both player and club?
Liverpool have won more then they have done if Gerrard was in a fixed position,
or is the problem down to a lack of quality in other areas?
can not afford any more slip ups in the league and, considering the money spent
by Benitez in comparison to David Moyes in the summer, this Merseyside derby is
a must win game for Gerrard and co.