By PHIL THOMAS
RAFA BENITEZ believes Old Trafford is about to witness the toughest job in football.
And he does not mean stopping Cristiano Ronaldo!
The Manchester United superstar’s midweek double edged him past George Best to a club record 33 goals in a season from a winger.
Yet down the M62, Liverpool have their own golden boy in Fernando Torres, who is in the form of his life at the moment.
And Kop boss Benitez reckons United face as huge a task in shackling the Spaniard as his own side do in keeping Ronaldo quiet.
He insisted: “The key to stopping Ronaldo? Maybe the key is stopping Torres.
“Of course we know that Ronaldo is in form but Fernando is too.
“The understanding between players, especially those up front, is always important.
“Fernando and Steven Gerrard are playing well, scoring goals and the team is getting the benefit. So the difficulty for teams is stopping both.”
Torres, a club record £21.5million summer buy from Atletico Madrid, has so far blasted 27 goals in all competitions.
Yet his manager is convinced the Anfield hitman, 24 yesterday, will be even deadlier over the coming years.
Benitez added: “Fernando is already a very good player and only young. So though he is playing really well, he can also do better in the future.”
Before Wednesday’s win over Bolton, United boss Alex Ferguson demanded more protection from officials for the likes of Ronaldo.
Steve Bennett is the referee with the job of keeping tabs on Sunday on what is traditionally a tinder-box clash between the two deadly rivals.
Yet Benitez has no fears about Bennett proving up to the task.
He added: “Ferguson was talking about protecting Ronaldo. But it’s just as important to protect the likes of Torres, Gerrard and all the top players.”