On the eve of a seriously awkward Europa League clash which could see Liverpool's continental season ended, the club's Spanish midfielder Albert Riera has accused Rafael Benitez of failing to talk through his omission from the side and declared himself ready to leave for Russia if it means more football.
The 27-year-old, who signed for £8m from Espanyol on summer transfer deadline day 2008, has started one game since the end of January. He accused the manager of a "lack of tact" in his dealings with him. "When you stop being important for the coach in this way it has to be something personal," he said. "If I am doing things badly and you are my boss and you value me you are going to tell me what I have to do to get back playing. That is what hurts me. I see that the team is not playing well but there are no changes. It is frustrating because I think I could help.
"It seems strange that being Spanish there should not be a problem with communication. My English is also not bad. I have been here two years and he has never sorted out a situation with a player by talking to him. He thinks that it is him in charge and he is deaf to everything else. The dialogue is practically nil. This year has been difficult and he has changed nothing, when you see that the boat is sinking and you don't change anything."
Villareal have been reportedly keen on the former Manchester City player as a replacement for Robert Pires, though Riera suggested that Russia, the only country whose transfer market is open, might help him to a World Cup squad place.
Riera's complaints, which echo those by Ryan Babel, include an accusation that Liverpool "have never played nice football" which rules Benitez out of contention for the Real Madrid managerial job should Manuel Pellegrini be shown the door.
Benitez evidently needs all the comfort he gets from Riera's compatriot Pepe Reina, who will join Dietmar Hamann in joint 12th place in the list of all-time European appearances for the club at home to Lille tonight and has confirmed he is committing his future to Liverpool. Confirmation of the fact in the week when Fernando Torres's comments in the Spanish press also hinted at some equivocation about his medium to long term future was welcome and Benitez clearly anticipates his 27-year-old goalkeeper's certainties rubbing off on others.
"It is important to show that commitment and it's an example for everyone," Benitez said before an occasion on which he may be relying on Reina to quell Rudi Garcia's pacy counter-attacking side who lead 1-0 from last week's first leg. "Maybe it will be an example for the rest of the players for the future. You can see every day how much he loves being here."
There were fewer of the same certainties from Benitez himself. "My own position is not the issue," said the manager, who did not entirely quash the links between himself and Juventus two months ago. "It's not about whether we win or lose over one season. It's about having the consistency over how we do things. My own responsibility is to be focused – and my only ambition at this moment is to beat Lille. It's not a case of 'oh Rafa's not guaranteeing his future'. I have a very good vision about the future, but now the responsibility is just the next game. That's all I can do."Reuse content