03 September 2007

Now Benitez can silence whingers

Michael Calvin THE SUNDAY MIRROR

Let's hear it for Rob Styles - he's the only person able to prevent Liverpool from winning this season.
They're top of the Premier League, giving their American owners a bang for their buck.
They're scoring for fun, making the most of the deepest squad in British football.
Their demolition of Derby confirmed there are only two relegation places to play for, and dared Anfield to dream.
No wonder the Kop gave their songbook a spanking.
But the real sound of success for Rafa Benitez in the coming months will be the sound of silence. No players whining about the manager undervaluing their precious talent.
No petty politicians in the boardroom whispering about his autocratic ways.
No fans taking to the airwaves to second-guess his squad rotation policy.
We will surely hear more of the concerns of Peter Crouch, restricted to seven minutes in the League so far.
Others will share his frustration. Benitez needs to strike the right balance, to become a combination of the Godfather and the parish priest.
To keep the peace, he'll need to intimidate and inspire. Yesterday, he gave a masterclass in the art of stoking ambition and stroking egos.
Jermaine Pennant, emerging as an answer to Liverpool's old weakness in wide areas, had an outstanding hour.
Benitez substituted him, to a standing ovation, and waited to shake his hand. "Good game," he mouthed. Ryan Babel, whose goal will ease his integration, and Javier Mascherano, who ensured that Steven Gerrard was not even missed, received identical treatment.
Everywhere you looked, players were making a point. Fernando Torres is a legend in the making, Andriy Voronin a natural goalscorer.
Benitez won't get carried away. He knows this was only Derby County.
But the memo to the Texas office will be loud and clear: The Liverpool Reds franchise is about to hit paydirt.

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