18 August 2007

Rafa can't help but blast Jose back

Rafael Benitez insists he 'does not enjoy' his war of words with Jose Mourinho but the Liverpool boss could not resist responding to his Chelsea counterpart's jibes ahead of the first major showdown of the season.
The pair resume their fierce rivalry on Sunday when Mourinho brings his team to Anfield.
The colourful Portuguese did not even wait for the season to start before declaring the pressure was really on Benitez to deliver following the Spaniards' £40million summer spending spree.
But the Reds' boss retorted: 'I thought Jose had said he wouldn't be talking about other clubs this season. Maybe he's already forgotten that.'
Benitez insists one summer of increased activity has not changed a thing.
He said: 'You only have to look at who are the clubs who have spent most over the last five seasons, and there are two, Chelsea and Manchester United, and they have won most of the trophies.
'If you analyse who finished top of the table last season, who have spent more money in those years, it is clear and simple there are two teams ahead of the others in terms of money, spending and also titles won.
'And I always say that (Chelsea owner Roman) Abramovich has done a really a good job, that is the key!'
Benitez is expected to field skipper Steven Gerrard tomorrow, despite his talismanic captain suffering a hairline fracture of the big toe on his right foot.
And the Liverpool manager feels under no more pressure now than before he spent big this summer.
He said: 'I do not feel more pressure because I have bought players, and I would rather it was not about me and Jose all the time, I would prefer it to be about Gerrard, (Chelsea captain John) Terry and the other players - they are more important than us.
'I do not really enjoy the exchanges that have gone on between me and Jose, I would prefer there to be none. He has a fine squad with great players, and I think we will be okay together this season.
'We are both professionals and we have our responsibilities. But it is better if we do not talk too much about each other.
'I really don't enjoy it and want to concentrate on my team, I do not like talking about other managers every day.'
What Benitez does want is a level of consistency this season, rather than the occasional stunning performance against big opponents.
Last term Liverpool beat Chelsea in the league and the Champions League semi-finals, but were 15 points behind them and 21 behind champions Manchester United.
Benitez said: 'If we show the same quality against every side in the league as I believe we will against Chelsea, at the end of the season we will be up there.
'Chelsea may be an important game now, but next week's game against Sunderland will be just as important.
'Every three points we play for will mean something at the end of the season, so all the players must be ready every week.
'I want each game in the Premier League to be seen in the same way rather than hear people talking about how a game like Chelsea may be more important than others.'
He added: 'We know when you are playing against a top side you must do well if you want to be a contender, but to be ready against all the teams is the only way to compete in the Premier League.
'I know against the top sides how much everyone wants to play and show their quality and I know they can do it.'

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