Capital defeats see Benitez admit desire for reinforcements

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The Independent Football

Having covered the flaws in the Liverpool squad and their final League position of fifth last season with that extraordinary defeat of Milan, Benitez is not about to curse his misfortune. Returning to the pinnacle of European football has, however, heightened the criticism that flows when his side falters so tamely at Fulham and Crystal Palace in the space of four days.

The Liverpool manager was back to his calm, assured self yesterday, having bristled at every question that was thrown his way in the wake of the Carling Cup exit at Selhurst Park, and admitted that he had made mistakes by not signing a right winger and centre-half this summer. That failure, he believes, has left his team unbalanced and liable to the occasional poor result, but it has not altered his conviction that Liverpool will improve, albeit with a few important additions once the transfer window opens in January.

"If you win the Champions' League then people expect the Premier League the next season but it is not so easy," he said. "I am not afraid if people want more; I will try to give them more. I am not the kind of person to see a problem as impossible to solve. I am more anxious than ever to win every game, starting with West Ham."

Benitez's confidence is augmented by the knowledge that, had he suffered the same sequence of results in Spain, he would enter this afternoon's fixture with his job under scrutiny. Sacked by both Valladolid and Osasuna, Benitez appreciates the support he receives at Anfield but is fully aware of the club's desperation for a sustained recovery.

He added: "In Spain it is said that if you are not sacked you cannot be a good manager, but it is different in every country, even in every town. There was a crisis in 1929 [the Stock Market crash which led to the Great Depression]; maybe for some people we are suffering one now but I don't think so. In football everything can change in one week. I have been sacked and relegated, and I have learnt that you need to be calm and work harder to improve every week. I remember how amazing it was to see all the Liverpool fans out on the streets after we won the Champions' League and I want to bring them back out again."

Allegations that Liverpool failed to build on their Champions' League success during the summer were levelled before the past week, but it was only yesterday that the manager was prepared to accept that criticism. Benitez, who will recall Steve Finnan at home to West Ham but rest Harry Kewell, admitted: "We've made two mistakes by not signing a right midfielder and a centre-back. We have a better squad than last year, but recent results show we don't have the balance.

"We are preparing now for the transfer window. We tried hard to sign players for the right side and centre-backs, but when you try for one month for one player and then he says no, as in the case of Luis Figo, you have less time to go for the next name on your list. We had a lot of names in the summer, but they all proved difficult. I'm confident it will be different in January."