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Benitez admits to disappointing Liverpool soccer season

SoccerNews in English Premier League 12 May 2008

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Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez hit out at critics of his team's defensive style but accepted that a trophy-free season represented failure as the English Premier League campaign came to an end.

Benitez's team finished the season in fourth place after beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 at White Hart Lane but the Spaniard was keen to set the record straight about his team's perceived lack of panache.

“People say we're a defensive team but the numbers are there. We play good, attacking football, and try to win every game but sometimes you cannot do this,” Benitez said.

“When you talk about 119 goals, more than anyone in England, another clean sheet and (Fernando) Torres being the most prolific foreigner in a first season, there's a lot of positives,” he added.

The Spaniard did admit that it had been a fundamentally disappointing season, saying: “The only thing, and this is the most important, is that we didn't win a trophy.”

As the season draws to a close, transfer speculation around the Anfield club has been rife and Benitez's decision to omit Jermaine Pennant and Peter Crouch from his squad suggests that their future on Merseyside is bleak.

However the former Valencia manager refused to fuel the rumours, saying: “We are working hard trying to improve the squad. We have a list of players in different positions and we'll try to progress.

“Some of the players here are under contract and they are our players and we are waiting now to see if clubs are interested in them,” he added. “We have a week more training and a lot of meetings. Maybe I will have a holiday for a week, then I'll be back.”

A pedestrian end of season encounter in which neither team had anything to play for was settled by two second-half goals from Ukraine striker Andriy Voronin and star forward Torres.

The Spain strikers goal was his 24th of the league campaign and sees him crowned as the highest scoring foreign debutant in the English Premier League, the title previously being held by Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

Benitez was full of praise for his compatriot. He said: “We were talking about the record before the game. He wanted to play in this game and wanted to score.

“When you sign a player it's difficult to know if they'll settle in, but he is young and hungry. He wants to be successful for a number of years,” he added.

Benitez refused though to claim him as the country's best striker, saying: “He is a good striker but I don't like to say he is the best because other strikers have other skills, but he is the best for us.”

Fellow Spaniard Juande Ramos was optimistic about his Tottenham team's prospects for next season despite only winning three games since their League Cup triumph in February.

He said: “I think we maybe did suffer after the League Cup success, maybe we achieved our target too soon. Today was just a relaxed end of season game because we couldn't finish higher.”

The former Seville coach was coy when asked what his transfer policy would be over the summer.

He said: “The main priority is to achieve balance in the squad, that is what we need most.”

Most of the speculation around White Hart Lane has involved the probable departure of the club's joint top scorer this season, Dimitar Berbatov.

Ramos asserted that no decision would be made until he talks to the Bulgaria forward when he comes back from his brief summer break.

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