Benitez tells Liverpool players to take responsibility

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The Independent Online

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez wants his players to start taking responsibility for their own actions instead of looking to blame team-mates.

The Spaniard said he saw signs of finger-pointing in Monday's woeful 1-0 defeat at Wigan and has told the squad it must not be allowed to continue.

With a even more difficult task ahead of them against Lille in the last-16 first leg in France Benitez has called for a show of strength and unity.

"I don't think is it right to suggest there is any lack of trust between the players," he said.

"You can look at last season as an example of that when these same players were doing well, playing with confidence and winning games and there was not a problem.

"But against Wigan the keeper (Jose Reina) was blaming the defenders for something that was wrong and the defenders were blaming the keeper.

"It happens in games but I don't like it. If you are showing your disappointment with that sort of body language it is sending out the wrong message.

"It is not positive and I don't want to see this sort of reaction.

"I accept that each player is different but it is important to show leadership qualities and the right approach to your team-mates.

"I have told them I want an improvement and that if an error is made the person responsible must be kept on board."

If Wigan on a newly-laid pitch was a problem for Liverpool, Lille's formidable home record and a patchy playing surface at their Metropole ground - where they have lost just once in Ligue 1 since the opening day of the season - provides an altogether different challenge.

In their last nine home league matches the French side have scored 25 goals, while their European record has seen them lose just one of the last 16 fixtures at home - to Manchester United in the 2006/7 Champions League.

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson, who is in line for his first start since the end of December having come on as a substitute at Wigan, said the players had been well briefed on what to expect.

"We know they are going to have some players with pace in certain areas, are well-organised and will work hard and we know they are playing very well at home," said the England international, who is yet not fully fit after a knee injury.

"I've been out for a while but I feel really good, although I'm just getting my match fitness back."

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