Benitez: We have a good team
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is hopeful of being able to strengthen his side before the end of the transfer window but is prepared to keep faith with the players who have underachieved this season.
The club were today again linked with a loan deal for Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones, although the Black Cats were quick to dismiss the suggestion.
Benitez needs to bring in a striker with Fernando Torres sidelined for six weeks after a knee operation at the weekend and believes the Trinidadian's physical presence is what is required. With captain Steven Gerrard (hamstring) and Yossi Benayoun (rib) sidelined for a few weeks Liverpool are without their three leading scorers, compounding their problems.
Having brought in Atletico Madrid midfielder Maxi Rodriguez last week Benitez is still looking for one more arrival. "We will see if we can do something more in this transfer window," said the Spaniard, who is hampered by the club's financial restrictions which mean he does not have a great deal of money to spend.
"If we cannot we will stick together for the next challenge. We have a good team, a good squad and not as bad as people thinks," the coach went on. "It is important to have confidence. When people say we need two strikers like Torres you say 'Okay. Where are these strikers and how much can you pay for them?'"
Benitez has been told he can use proceeds from any sales to finance new signings but the only likely departure is that of Ryan Babel, who angered his manager by revealing his omission from Saturday's squad on Twitter 24 hours before the game. The Dutch international has been fined by the club and despite previous assertions by Benitez he wanted to keep the forward, his future is destined to be away from Anfield. However, the stumbling block may come over Liverpool's valuation of the 23-year-old, signed from Ajax for £11.5million in July 2007.
Of more concern to the manager is the team's problem of conceding late goals, which cost them a vital victory at Stoke on Saturday. Goals in the 90th minute have already cost Benitez's team a place in the UEFA Champions League knock-out stage as Lyon snatched four points with strikes in added time in their two group encounters.
Reading's 92nd-minute penalty at Anfield last week allowed them to level up their FA Cup third-round replay and then go on to win it in extra time. But the Reds' defence had still not learned their lesson - as demonstrated by Robert Huth's strike at the Britannia Stadium at the weekend.
"We have to be better, we have to be more 'savvy' and control these games," said Benitez. "If we cannot score the second goal at least we have to manage and win these games without playing well. The main thing this year is we are conceding goals so we have to be stronger in defence."
It is difficult to pin Liverpool's woes on one incident but had they held on against the Potters they would have been faced with the prospect of beating Tottenham at Anfield on Wednesday to go fourth in the Premier League. And although that would have barely papered over the cracks it would have given Benitez some breathing space as he works out how to salvage the season without the services of injured trio Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun for the next few weeks.
"In football every week things can change and with one or two results things can be different," said the Liverpool manager. "When Arsenal came here (on December 13) people were talking about them being under pressure but they won and two weeks later they are contenders and can win the title."