Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez today resumes his Premier League title scrap with Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side, insisting: “It’s not personal.”
Benitez needed an explanation of Ferguson’s famous ’squeaky bum time’ phrase yesterday before insisting he was controlled and calm as the Anfield men wait to pounce on any more mistakes from United as the title battle nears a conclusion.
Liverpool could be top of the table following their crunch match at Fulham this evening. Manchester United, though, will still have tomorrow’s home clash with Aston Villa to come, plus a game in hand.
Benitez brought roars of laughter from his media conference yesterday when he asked for ’squeaky bum time’ to be translated into Spanish for him to understand.
Benitez said: “If is about nerves, I do not have problems with that, nor do my players. But it is a new word I have learned.
“And I do not see it as a battle between me and Sir Alex. I am not fighting with him, I am trying to do the best for my team. It is not personal, nobody should focus on that.
“I have a lot of respect for Sir Alex. But I am happy with the way my team is playing, with Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt’s new contracts and the confidence we have, I have not been thinking about him.”
Liverpool return to the title race after their momentum was interrupted by the international break.
Benitez had seen his side score 13 goals in beating Manchester United, Real Madrid and Aston Villa and said: “It has been a good time for the club, but we have to keep winning to start talking about the positives.
“We must beat Fulham or things will be again bad for us. People will say that the break came at the wrong time, we were playing well and the players were very confident.
“We had such good momentum beforehand. But the players understand how important the situation is, I have talked to them since they returned from playing for their countries and they know how vital it is to keep putting pressure on United.”
Benitez announced contract extensions for Gerrard and Kuyt yesterday, with the prospect of Fernando Torres being among the next in line for new deals and the club also in discussions with Jose Reina, Alvaro Arbeloa and Jamie Carragher.
Benitez said: “We have been working very hard with a lot of players and agents, and the easiest one has been Gerrard.
“It is probably the quickest new deal I have ever been involved in, sometimes they can drag on.”
Gerrard added: “This news has given me a boost and hopefully it will help us in our remaining games.
“We have got big matches to play, all of them cup finals as we have to win them all to stay in the title race and go all the way to Rome for the Champions League final.”
He explained: “I have been a fan all my life and it will be fantastic at the end of my career to look back and say I have been with Liverpool all the way through.”