Benitez and Warnock say season is far from over

Stephen Warnock and Rafa Benítez have been sharing their views on the end of Liverpool’s league season. The Reds’ defeat at the hands of Chelsea on Sunday means it is now impossible for the 18-times champions to add that long-awaited number 19 league title to their long honours list.

At least that’s what some would have you think.

According to Warnock and Benítez though it’s far from over yet – and that’s how most people who support the Reds will feel. It’s not going to be easy, but to write the league off already is a little premature. That said, tomorrow night’s visit of Newcastle must end with the points going to Liverpool if the confidence isn’t going to slip away completely.

Warnock says that the game against the Toon Army can’t come soon enough: “We've all heard and read what people have been saying about our chances and it just makes us more determined to prove everyone wrong. As soon as the final whistle went on Sunday, we'd all have happily gone back out and played Newcastle there and then just to get another game going.”

As far Stephen’s concerned, the Reds aren’t as bad as is being made
out: “We know we've got a lot of quality here and there isn't a lot
wrong and now we've got to go out there tomorrow night and show it.
Obviously it's really disappointing to have lost on Sunday. We had so
many great chances, Dirk hit a great shot at the bar and the penalty
shout didn't go our way, but when you've outplayed the champions at
their own place for such a long period, you know you're playing pretty
well. We were beaten by a great goal. If Drogba tried that another ten
times he wouldn't repeat it.”

Rafael Benítez was another not to fall for the hype from those who said
it’s all over for the Reds, and says he can’t really explain why
Liverpool have failed to win in their last three outings: “There are
positives to be taken from the performance against Chelsea. In the last
three games we've created lots of opportunities and it's difficult to
explain how we haven't won any of these matches. The key for us is to
start scoring goals. After three games away from home, in which we
created a lot of chances, I'm sure we're going to start scoring soon.
Maybe we need to create even more to start scoring goals.”

The last three games were all away, in fact the Reds have only played
at home twice out of their eight games so far this term, something
which Rafa seems to think has played a part: “It's good for us to be
back at Anfield now where we're usually stronger.  Now we need to keep
going. It's a long race but all we can do is think of Newcastle and the
next three points. We will see how close we are later on. This is not
the time to be thinking about the league table. As a manager, I need to
see if the team is improving and it's clear to me it is.”

Warnock is happy to be back in the side again after fearing at one
stage that he wasn’t part of Rafa’s plans. His fitness has been a worry
from time to time since Rafa first brought him into the full squad, but
he’s found that he’s getting better and better at lasting the course,
something he couldn’t do previously. His early withdrawal against
Chelsea was at least down to tactics rather than injury, with also
perhaps an eye on the referee that day: “I was disappointed to come off
against Chelsea, but you always accept the manager's decision, even if
you want to stay on. I wasn't helped by the booking I got early on,
when I felt hard done by. At the moment I'm just concentrating on
playing consistently. I've not had much luck with injuries, but I hope
the worst is behind me. I've worked a lot to improve my stamina, which
was affected by a hernia operation. Last year I was getting cramp after
about 65 minutes and having to come off, but in Eindhoven I came
through 90 minutes and only got cramp two minutes from the end.”

Warnock also spoke about his relief at the end of last month when Rafa
told him he was wanted by Blackburn Rovers. Negotiations were underway
between the two clubs for Lucas Neill, but Rafa refused to let Warnock
go. As much as it was a relief, he was still not counting on staying
until the deadline had passed: “The manager told me Blackburn were
trying to arrange a swap, but made it clear he wouldn't agree to it. As
it was getting towards midnight there was always that doubt you may get
a phone call saying it's back on, but I was happy it never came.”