17 November 2007

Benitez exclusive: Reds boss on rotation policy, title ambitions, foreign quotas and managerial mind games

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez speaks about rotation policy, keeping players happy, difficulties in the Champions League, a new stadium, and mind games with other managers on CNN International's 'World Sport'. Here is an extract of a two-part interview to be screened next Monday and Tuesday at 9.30pm.

CNN - Everybody talks about your rotation policy. Why do you rotate players so much and how do you react to criticism?
Benitez - All the managers change players. When you play 2 games a week, you must change players. So everybody does the same. The question is if you win or if you lose. When you win, nobody says anything. So we will try to win and keep people calm.
CNN - How hard is it to keep the players calm?
Benitez - I think the players understand. They all want to play every game, but they understand that if you want to be a contender, you need to change players because otherwise you will not be able to be fit the whole season.
CNN – Steven Gerrard doesn't rest much. How important is he to the team, on and off the pitch?
Benitez - He's the captain, he's a player with good mentality, strong character, so really important for us. On the pitch he can change games, and off the pitch he is an example for the rest of the team.
CNN - With so many foreigners at the club, is it important to have someone like him to help them identify with the spirit and history of Liverpool?
Benitez - We are trying to keep the British players, the English players, the local players is our idea. They show the rest of the players what the passion means.
CNN – What do you think about all the foreigners in the Premier League? Do you think there should be a quota to limit them?
Benitez - The balance is the key. We were talking about Gerrard, the passion he can show to teammates, to have local players and foreign players if they are good enough is the key. If you have 20 local players with enough quality for winning trophies, perfect. If you cannot, you need to bring in foreign players. So the balance is the key."

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