Reds concentrating on European challenge

Liverpool return to European action tomorrow with the club’s future once again open for debate.

Liverpool return to European action tomorrow with the club’s future once again open for debate.

The Champions League has been the Anfield club’s area of success this season - they are already through to the last 16 – and they will bid to secure top spot in Group C with a win over PSV Eindhoven.

Then 24 hours later their scheduled monthly board meeting will meet, certain to discuss the rival bidders to take control of the Merseyside club.

It will be the first meeting without long-term director Noel White, who resigned last month after criticism of manager Rafael Benitez and the future direction of the club.

Much of what White said will still need to be addressed when directors meet to discuss the chances of either George Gillett – owner of the Montreal Canadians ice hockey team – or Dubai Holdings winning control of Anfield in what would be a £500million investment.

With West Ham having been sold for £150m in just three months to an Icelandic consortium headed by Eggert Magnusson Liverpool are expected to be next on the list for new owners after a two-year search for investors.

But activity behind the scenes does not worry Benitez, who said: “We hear about takeover talk but we all focus on our games.

“On the playing side we have to improve our form and I know the board will do the best for the club.

“I have been told some information but I am not worried about this. There are some people interested but that is normal because this is a big club.

“But for me I am only concerned about the games, to see if we can do well in the Champions League and win away games in the Premiership.”

New owners could well affect Benitez’s budget in the January transfer window.

However, the Spaniard remains unconcerned. “I have no idea of a timescale and if I cannot control these things I do not concern myself too much thinking about them,” he said.

“I am not thinking about January and the transfer window. Always you must be aware of the market but I have no firm plans.

“I will keep an eye on the market but think more about our games and position in the competitions.”

Ahead of a key European tie, Benitez’s views are echoed by Republic of Ireland defender Steve Finnan.

He said: “As long as I have been here there has been a lot speculation about such things, but within our dressing room nobody ever mentions it.

“Maybe if it happens we will chat about it but everyone in the club is trying to get on with their jobs, especially the players.”

That job continues against an in-form Eindhoven tomorrow. They are top of the Dutch league and are unbeaten in 15 domestic and European ties – conceding just five goals in the process.

Benitez knows his team must at least maintain their consistency in Europe even if they are failing to do so in the Premier League with an appalling record outside of Anfield.

“At home we are scoring goals and winning. Away we are making chances and not winning. We have to start scoring the goals, it is as simple as that.

“It is good to have qualified for the last 16 in Europe and it will be good to beat PSV and make sure we do not have to go to Galatasaray needing anything to be top.

“I want to finish first but you never know [what to expect] with the draw. Teams could be poor now but buy in January and be much better when the last 16 comes around in a few months.

“Their form, money and players can change so it is hard to predict, but we need to finish top for our own confidence.

“In front of our supporters we win, we score plenty of goals and we are happier. We need to show confidence and show people you are good enough.”

Midfielder Luis Garcia missed last week’s Spain international and Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Middlesbrough with a hamstring problem but he has returned to training and will challenge for a starting place.

Benitez’s seems certain to stick with two wingers in an attacking system, while centre-back Daniel Agger is expected to retain his place ahead of Sami Hyypia.

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