Gerrard unperturbed by lack of Liverpool signings

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Steven Gerrard yesterday revealed that he has discussed Liverpool's transfer activity with the club's new manager Rafael Benitez.

Steven Gerrard yesterday revealed that he has discussed Liverpool's transfer activity with the club's new manager Rafael Benitez.

Gerrard, the club captain, pointedly remarked earlier in the summer that he would expect four new signings to be in place when he returned from Euro 2004. That was during the spell in which the England midfielder was seriously considering his future at Anfield after a season that saw an underperforming Liverpool side sneak into the Champions' League qualifiers and finish 30 points behind the Premiership winners Arsenal.

But, although so far Liverpool have only signed Djibril Cissé and Josemi, Gerrard claims that he is happy with the situation. "I am not worried that the squad lacks strength in depth," Gerrard said. "We had a good squad before we made these signings and it is has been improved with Cissé and Josemi.

"I've spoken to the manager about the situation and he's said if the right player becomes available to improve the team further then he will go out and get him, which is good news for everyone."

After witnessing Benitez's influence on the squad, Gerrard believes that a more realistic title challenge can be mounted next term.

"Liverpool fans will always have these expectations, given the proud history of the club and I think especially so now that we have a new manager, new coaching staff and a couple of new signings," he said. "We are aware that the expectations are high but it is the same within the team. The nearest I have been to winning the league is when we finished second, but even then we were not that close.

"It has been frustrating, but going into this season I'm really excited and I feel we can get a lot closer. I think we have to become more of a team. I think we have to work harder for each other. Also, we have to learn more tactically and learn to be more consistent.

"But just from watching the boys in training since I came back, there seems to be something there that has been missing in the previous five years. Hopefully the boys will show that hunger throughout the season."

On his own performances, Gerrard admitted: "The manager has told me he still wants me to be the leader but he also thinks I have still got a lot to learn and I do myself. I am still only 24, so I am young and I think I can get better as a player if I listen to the manager and do the things he wants me to."

Meanwhile, the Liverpool midfielder Anthony Le Tallec has joined St Etienne on a one-year loan deal, without the option to buy, the French Ligue 1 newcomers said yesterday.

Le Tallec, a France Under-21 international who can also play as a striker, joined Liverpool in June 2002 but spent his first season on loan to the French side Le Havre. The 19-year-old made 23 appearances for Liverpool on his return to England last season, scoring once in an early Uefa Cup game. "I wanted people to see me and to be able to play for an entire season. I think at St Etienne I will have the chance to do that," Le Tallec said.

* Craig Moore's proposed move to Blackburn Rovers collapsed last night after Rangers' Australian international defender failed to agree terms with the club.