Home > Sports > Soccer: We’re beaten! Rafa Benitez says his Liverpool players are too tired to take on Chelsea

Soccer: We’re beaten! Rafa Benitez says his Liverpool players are too tired to take on Chelsea

May 1, 2010

Rafa Benitez has left Manchester United’s title hopes hanging by a thread by admitting that his shattered Liverpool players were in no fit state to face Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday.

Sir Alex Ferguson knows United’s chances of remaining champions hinge on the leaders dropping points, and he would be hoping that might happen on Merseyside.

It looks a distant prospect, though, after Benitez admitted that his team were out on their feet after a demoralising two-hour Europa League semi-final defeat by Atletico Madrid on Thursday night.

The Liverpool manager revealed that two of his substitutions were forced on him by fatigue, and those who stayed on looked just as drained at the final whistle, Dirk Kuyt flat on his back in tears in the centre circle and Steven Gerrard staring in disbelief at the celebrating Atletico players.

Benitez said: ‘It will be more difficult than ever now to lift the players. We will have to check on everyone before deciding on the line-up. That is how it has left us.

‘We had to change Yossi Benayoun and Javier Mascherano because they were very tired. We had to use Kuyt, even though he was injured against Burnley, and David Ngog was on the bench, even though he wasn’t 100 per cent.

‘I am proud of the effort the players put in, but now they are paying the price. It has taken a lot out of them. I thought that if we won, then adrenaline might carry us through against Chelsea.

‘Instead, the players are not only very weary but very down. Our job is to try to get them ready for another big game, but it will not be easy.’

Ferguson urged Liverpool not to betray the proud history of their club by surrendering to Carlos Ancelotti’s Chelsea.

The United manager, whose team are at Sunderland later on Sunday, said: ‘I think Liverpool will do their best on Sunday.

‘Great clubs don’t throw their histories away. They don’t throw their traditions away for one game.

‘Liverpool have been in 10 European finals, won 18 titles, so that’s a fantastic history. You don’t throw that away — and the fans know that too.

‘Do you think the fans want to go away home saying, “They capitulated, they didn’t try”? Of course not.’

Liverpool have been in this position before, beating Blackburn at home 15 years ago to give United the chance to win the League at West Ham the same day.

United failed then, but Ferguson said: ‘The similarities are there. We depended and hoped on Liverpool producing and we got that.

‘Their manager Roy Evans talked to me and said, “You have to earn the right to win the title” and that stands today.’

United full back Patrice Evra called on the Liverpool players to respect the Premier League enough not to roll over, saying: ‘It would be a fake league.

‘I just hope they are honest with themselves. If one player doesn’t play to let Chelsea win, that will stay with him for the rest of his career.

‘You have to respect the game and respect the competitition. I just hope the Liverpool players will be professional.’

Benitez claimed Sunday’s staggered kick-offs had given United an unfair advantage, saying: ‘In Spain, the last two fixtures for all the teams start at exactly the same time.

‘By the time United kick off, they will know what has happened to Chelsea and what they have to do. I don’t think that is fair. ’

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