Rafa Benitez: Liverpool don't have to win trophies to be a success
Published 22:04 31/10/09 By By Simon Mullock
Rafa Benitez has claimed success at Liverpool should not be measured in trophies.
The Merseysiders pride themselves as being the most successful club in England, with 18 titles and five European Cups.
But Benitez, who takes Liverpool into a week that could decide their Champions League fate after Saturday's shock 3-1 defeat at Fulham, said: “I don’t agree when people say that you have to win trophies.
“I always say you have to be there, you have to be close, you have to create a group of players who can fight for trophies.
“We got 86 points last season, yet some people were saying that it wasn’t good because we finished second.
“I think reducing the gap between the top team and Liverpool to four points was a massive achievement.
“Trophies mean a lot to everyone. But the most important thing is to see progression and evidence that you are improving and able to fight for trophies.
“It’s not just about one year. It is about what we can achieve in the future.
“People say that I have now been here five years. I say, look at the differences here now.
“Look at the value of the club before compared to the value of the club now.
“Look at the value of the squad before compared to the value of the squad now. You can see the progression.”
Benitez’s words will come as a surprise to followers of a club with an insatiable appetite for silverware.
As legendary Anfield boss Bob Paisley once famously said: “First is first and second is nowhere.”
Spaniard Benitez won the Champions League in his first season at Anfield, but the Reds have not lifted a trophy since the FA Cup in 2006.
He was given assurances about his future last week by managing director Christian Purslow.
Hours later Liverpool resurrected their Premier League challenge by beating Manchester United 2-0.
But they travel to Lyon in the Champions League on Wednesday night with their hopes of progression hanging by a thread following the French club’s 2-1 win at Anfield and a defeat at Fiorentina.
Benitez believes he will still have the backing of Purslow and the club’s two American owners, even if Liverpool suffer an early exit from Europe’s premier competition.
But he is aware that such a scenario would have serious consequences when it comes to his New Year transfer budget.
Benitez said: “Christian Purslow made it very clear that when I signed a new contract for five years it was so that I would be at this club for a very long time.
“Now I can control the Academy, I can control the young players we produce and build something very good for the future.
“We have analysed the squad together, looking at plans for January and also next season.
“My belief is that we will qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, but of course, you have to have plans based on whether you have more money or less money available.
“The more money you have, the easier it is.
“If you have less money then you have to manage in a different way and find other solutions to improve.”