Benitez concerned by impatient Liverpool

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The Independent Online

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez admits he will have to get the best out of Steven Gerrard's partnership with Fernando Torres for the side to have a genuine impact on the final stages of the Champions League.

Gerrard scored the winner against Marseille last night in the 1-0 Group D victory that ensured Liverpool will be in the last 16.

But Benitez reveals that Torres' involvement in his tactics is not working to the level of last season, when the Spaniard hit 33 goals and Gerrard chipped in with 21.

Torres' immediate involvement with Liverpool could again be handicapped by another hamstring injury sustained against the French.

He had a scan today and may be a doubt for Monday's home league game with West Ham.

Benitez also has a calf problem sustained by full-back Fabio Aurelio to contend with as he tries to knock Liverpool into shape after a worrying run of indifferent form - by their standards - that has seen them win only three of their last seven matches in all competitions.

If Liverpool are still in this form come February, their participation in the knock-out stages could be a short one.

Benitez said: "Clearly the main thing was to do the job, win and progress. But we did not control the game and did not play well.

"We were too excited, we wanted to score the second goal with one pass. Maybe we should have passed more and been patient, and then find Torres.

"But we were trying to use him too quickly, the ball was hit straight up to him, and meant we kept conceding possession.

"We were giving the ball away and having to run back into defence, then doing the same thing over and over. It is difficult to control a game playing like that.

"Sometimes he was in good positions but the passes were poor, sometimes he could not get into the right place for good passes."

He added: "We are concerned with our poor home performances. But we could have beaten Fulham on Saturday even though we were not playing well.

"Against Marseille that was not possible. But we now have the chance to look at what went wrong, we will have the time before the next stage to put right what has been going wrong.

"We have time on our side. We can manage our squad, we can try to keep picking up wins in the Premier League and be in a better shape for the Champions League when it starts again in February."

Liverpool had to rely on another telling Gerrard goal, his eighth of the season and fifth in Europe. He now has 30 in 98 European matches.

Benitez said: "Gerrard is one of the best offensive midfielders in the world, he is always a threat. As is Torres.

"But maybe if the team play a little bit better, they will score a lot of goals together.

"Now is a busy time, over Christmas and new year. Not everyone will be match-fit all the time so we will have to use the rest of the squad.

"That will make sure that we will be ready for February when the Champions League starts again in our best form and fitness."

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