UNDER-FIRE LIVERPOOL BOSS RAFA HITS BACK AT CRITICS
Benitez sticks to his guns
By Ken Lawrence 28/10/2007 (Sunday Mirror)
Rafa Benitez insists he will not be driven into an intensive care unit by the first hint of crisis in his Liverpool career.
Benitez is adamant the pressures of trying to end Liverpool's 17-year wait for a title triumph, will never turn into the terrifying scenario that almost cost the life of his predecessor Gerard Houllier.
Houllier ended up on a life support partly as the pressure took its toll on his health.
And he always found the criticism of former Liverpool stars particularly hard to take.
After last week's dismal Champions League defeat by Besiktas some critics believe defeat against Arsenal at Anfield today could leave Benitez fighting fore his job.
But he insists he has a failsafe way to stay sane, and is certain that owners Tom Hicks and George Gillette are not likely to follow the example of the Tottenham board who booted out Martin Jol last week.
Benitez said: "I would be surprised if my job came under the kind of scrutiny that Martin Jol went through. You must analyse everything and look at the big picture.
"This week Tom Hicks was trying to be supportive. I have a good relationship with him and George Gillette. I have had good contact with them.
"Sure they want to win. I want to win. Everybody wants to win. But we have the same ideas.
"We talked about the plan that will be for the next four or five years before and we continue with the same ideas.
"I am really pleased here. I am happy. And if we make mistakes by reacting to what others say then we will have problems.
"But I don't have any problems. If I need to work harder to improve things, I will do it and if everything's OK I will enjoy.
"We have the plan. The directors are really pleased with the plan. For one day you don't need a plan. You need it for the next years and that is what we have."
Houllier always listened always to what he called the "enemy from within", but Benitez, who looks certain to be without injured Fernando Torres against the Gunners, claims he doesn't hear them!
Every time he looks at Liverpool video footage he turns the sound down so he can concentrate on what he wants and not worry about outside opinions.
He explained "This is how I work. I prepare for each game with four or five DVDs and the analysis the coaches give me.
"I prepare about one hour of tapes. But I see them without volume so I don't hear anything.
"I can't watch the games live because I am working. So I make clips. I keep the ones I want that are most important for the players. When I am working like that I cannot listen and work.
"And I don't like the players hearing anything because I prefer them to be focussing.
"Everybody has an opinion and I don't need to hear anybody else's opinion but mine."
Given the increasing flak Benitez has been taking over his rotation policy and especially his selection of strikers - blamed for last Wednesday's defeat in Turkey - the Anfield manager could be accused of sticking his head in the sand.
And there have been suggestions that skipper Steven Gerrard, hauled off 20 minutes from the end of the Merseyside derby win may be growing dubious that Benitez's methods remain the right ones.
But Benitez is confident is position is completely safe and insists there is no problem between him and Gerrard.
He said: "As for Steve Gerrard, we have been talking. He knows why I replaced him at Everton and he has told me he is ready to do anything for this team. Nothing has changed."
utusanLFC : In Rafa we trust!