The latest from Rafa Benitez in response to press attempts to unsettle Djibril Cisse is to say that the French striker is learning more and more what his manager expects of him.
Speaking ahead of the Champions League fixture against Real Betis tonight, the Spaniard said: "All strikers are a little bit selfish. Sometimes they try to score and try to play for themselves, but sometimes you need to be more patient. When he was at Auxerre, he did not have responsibilities for the team. It’s difficult for a striker to go from being the star at one club to go to another club where there are four or five players who are at the same level or even better. If you want to win trophies, you need star players who can work for the team. I think he is learning that now."
A football manager’s job is to not only pick a team, or to buy and sell players, it is also to work with the players that are in the squad. There’s no doubt that Cisse is an excellent player, but Benitez would not be doing his job if he didn’t feel he could work with Cisse to improve his abilities. The press like a story though, and the relationship between the extrovert Frenchman and the quiet Spaniard is one that they can always make a story out of.
Rafa is determined to do well on all fronts this season, meaning rotation will be part and parcel of life at Anfield. Cisse is happy now, and wants to stay at Anfield. He knows what his true worth is at Anfield now, and has perhaps learned not to believe everything he reads. Cisse said: "My intention isn’t to leave the club. I’m happy here. I feel good here and I don’t want to leave. But it’s not just me who decides. The boss makes the choices." Cisse had earlier praised team-mate Peter Crouch, and doesn’t see that there different styles means Crouch would force Cisse out of the club: "We have two different styles, so it’s possible to have a good partnership. We’re not opposite, but different."
With every game the different strikers play together comes more and more understanding, and Rafa is well aware of how important that is for the team.