Beleaguered Benitez calls for Anfield overhaul
Rafael Benitez has admitted it could take five new signings to turn Liverpool into trophy challengers once more.
The Merseyside giants crashed out of the Europa League semi-finals to Atletico Madrid thanks to Diego Forlan's extra-time strike at Anfield. Although Liverpool finished 2-1 victors, Forlan's away goal proved decisive, condemning Benitez's team to end the campaign empty-handed.
He said: "Someone said we needed four or five players. I would more or less agree with that. That is what we have to do. Liverpool is a massive club. There has been a change in the last two or three years. We have had to balance the books and manage in this way.
"I do not know whether I will have any funds. We will find out in the summer. But the name is there and we have to do our best for it.''
Whether Benitez remains to undertake such a massive rebuilding job remains to be seen. Juventus are said to be keen on the Spaniard, who saw his hopes of leadin Liverpool to a third European final under his charge collapse after they had found themselves in such a promising position.
Benitez was cagey about his future, refusing to look any further ahead than the two games his side have left. "The future is Chelsea. And then Hull,'' he said. "Everything seems to have been against the players this season. It is clear that we had some problems. We had too many injuries and were lacking forward options. But the players worked so hard tonight and I am very proud of them. Now we have to concentrate and do our best in the next two games.''
For Atletico it was a glory night, allowing them to revel in the joy of becoming the only Spanish side to reach a European final this season.
"No one would have expected this,'' said coach Quique Sanchez Flores. "We are happy to represent our country and be Spain's only team in a European final.
"It was an amazing night. You can't come to Anfield without knowing you are going to suffer some difficult moments but we were the stronger side in extra-time and deserved to go through.''
Now they must deny Fulham a magical end to one of the most staggering seasons in the London club's proud history, and Sanchez Flores is wary.
"Never trust any team that goes all the way to the final,'' he said. "Any English team will be very competitive and Fulham are no exception.''
Diego Forlan played down his vital contribution. Forlan told Five: ''We needed to score - it doesn't matter who is going to score.
''It was a really difficult game. We knew they would come after us. They played really well in the first half and they deserved that goal. They got the second goal. We knew we needed to score one goal. And that was it.''
Forlan admitted he had feared the worst after Benayoun put Liverpool on the brink of the final, saying: ''Yes, of course. They are a strong team - they know how to win.''
As for facing the Cottagers, the Uruguayan said: ''Every team is a difficult game. We didn't think about any team (beforehand). We just wanted to qualify.''