Benitez defends selection gambles

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez concedes that sometimes he gambles too much with his rotation policy.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez concedes that sometimes he gambles too much with his rotation policy.

That is a remarkable admission from the Spaniard, who always defiantly defends his system of resting players on a regular basis.

It has meant that from day one of the season he has now made a staggering 279 changes to his line-ups, week on week, and shows no sign of sticking to his best side as critics continually claim he should.

Benitez averages an amazing five changes a match and has only kept an unchanged side once this term.

And as Benitez prepares this time to make enforced changes at Chelsea due to a growing injury list, he said: “If I need to make gambles, then I will make gambles.

“We have been in two Champions League finals and an FA Cup final. That is because we change the side.

“Sometimes it is good and works, sometimes not. But nobody really knows whether what I do is right.

“All I will say is that Liverpool and me have won a lot of trophies doing this.

“Sometimes maybe I take too many gambles. But it is necessary sometimes when opponents have top class, expensive players, and lots of them.

“If they have five players who cost £20m and we have just one, you need to use that player in the right moment. If you don’t win, people blame you.

“If you do win, nobody mentions what team you put onto the field. I accept that.”

He added: “We played against Havant and people said, ’play your best team.’ But you cannot do that against a team like that, if people want that it is because they do not know what it takes to win trophies and trophies and trophies.

“If you cannot do things like that against smaller teams then you will just not be able to compete all the time against Premier League teams. You must change things for games like that.”

Benitez will go into his 18th meeting with Chelsea without top scorer Fernando Torres, who damaged a hamstring playing for Spain in midweek.

The Spanish boss says: “People say I gamble too much with rotation and changes. But the answer to that is to look at Torres, he has played a lot of games for us recently and then he has another game with Spain, and he gets injured.

“He is continuing to play at a high level all the time. Players must rest also.

“We have half a dozen players in this situation, they all need to be changed and to rest. But everyone keeps talking about me playing my strongest team, and then you see what happens.

“I do not like to say what is my strongest team, I must use all the players with the demands we have. If you pick the same team all the time you will find at the end of the season that you cannot win trophies.”

Liverpool now have three key games in 10 days to salvage their season. After the clash with Chelsea they will play Barnsley in the FA Cup fifth round next weekend, and then face the first leg of their Champions League clash with Inter Milan.

And Benitez is still fuming over the injury to Torres that has damaged Liverpool’s chances in all three competitions.

He said: “We have three big games in 10 days in three different competitions and we have lost out top goalscorer.

“It is difficult to be calm about it, this was another international friendly in a busy period for clubs at this time of the season.

“It is crazy enough that they go away and have different training systems, diets, new ideas. And they get injured.

“We have got some confidence back with a 3-0 win over Sunderland and a very good second-half performance. But then a lot of players are away all over the world and we are left to train with just a few, it makes things very difficult.”

Liverpool will also be without long-term injured stars Andriy Voronin, Fabio Aurelio, Alvaro Arbeloa and Daniel Agger. Xabi Alonso is suspended.

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