Belief is key to Benitez’s Liverpool revival
Published 26/09/2009 | 00:02
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez insists it is belief among his players and not a change in tactics which has made his side more attacking this season.
The Spaniard has a reputation for being a defensively-minded coach and certainly his teams in recent years have been well organised and difficult to score against.
There were both positive and negative effects of his approach last season as Liverpool's number of clean sheets helped push Manchester United all the way in the Premier League title race.
They lost just two matches but still finished in second place, four points adrift of their arch-rivals.
However, such a disciplined approach sometimes meant the team lacked a creative spark.
The emphasis has changed this campaign and after two defeats in their first three matches, Liverpool have now won three successive league games and five in all competitions.
They have already had two 4-0 victories — against Stoke and Burnley — and have beaten Bolton and West Ham 3-2.
“It is similar to last season — we are creating more or less the same situations, but now we are scoring more goals because the accuracy is better,” said Benitez.
“It is true we score a lot of goals. It's funny because people were talking before about us needing to score more goals because we were good in defence.
“Now they are saying we are scoring goals, but conceding goals — so we can never win.
“Maybe it is because we are more offensive, but it is not because we are changing the system.”
Right-back Glen Johnson, an £18million signing from Portsmouth, has made a difference to the way Liverpool attack and the England defender has already scored twice.
His addition to the squad, plus growing confidence, has impacted on everyone according to the Liverpool boss.
“Glen Johnson likes to go forward all the time. Alvaro Arbeloa defended a bit better so he had more balance,” Benitez said.
“Yossi Benayoun, Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are all going forward, maybe it is more than last year, but they have confidence and are playing well.
“We have been trying to do the same things as last year, the difference is the players have more confidence going forward as we have more people comfortable with the ball.
“It is not because we are playing higher or changing the system.”
Benitez also feels the players have grown in stature after running United so close last season.
“It was very important for us. We won a lot of games in a row at the end of the season because we had a lot of confidence and we wanted to be as close to them as possible,” he explained.
“You can take it as a positive because we were so close.
“Hull are the visitors today and they were one of the teams who last season left Anfield with one of the seven draws at home.