Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Angry Benitez tells Carragher critics to shut it

Rafael Benitez

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has hailed stand-in skipper Jamie Carragher and blasted claims the defender was past his best.

Benitez revealed he was determined to keep faith with his players and Carragher.

The 31-year-old has come in for severe criticism this season as Liverpool have struggled, but he produced a man-of-the-match display of defiant defending in Sunday's 2-0 home win over Manchester United.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson maintained Carragher should have been sent off for dragging down Michael Owen, but the Old Trafford chief also conceded Carragher was Liverpool's best defender, by far.

Benitez said: “Jamie played well. He had been having a difficult time but the only thing to do in such a situation is to try again and try again.

“It was only a question of keeping working hard, and he proved that he is a good centre-back and not at the end of his career just yet.

“He showed what a good defender he still is and (collectively) we have shown that we are not a bad team, not a bad squad.

“Maybe next April people will again judge us but at this moment we have enough quality.

“We have had five players injured, all at once. But when we are all fit we are difficult for anyone to beat.”

On his own position, Benitez maintained: “I have not been reading the papers, or listening to anything. I was only trying to keep focused, and the players the same.

“We knew we were not that bad. We had won six on the trot before this run of four defeats, and we got 86 points last season. We are not as bad as people were saying.”

Benitez kept faith with his squad, and continued: “The players responded to the messages they had been given. It was simple, keep training the same way, keep working hard and things will change.”

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