Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gerrard backs Rafa after silencing critics

Steven Gerrard has shrugged off suggestions that Rafa Benitez singled him out for criticism and feels Liverpool got their just rewards after twice coming back to beat Bolton on Saturday.

The Reds responded to Monday's disastrous 3-1 humbling by Aston Villa as Gerrard netted a thunderous winner at the Reebok to reignite the Merseysiders' 20-year-long quest for domestic glory and silence a few critics along the way.

It had been widely stated that boss Benitez had been one of those to slate the 29-year-old talisman after the Villa defeat, especially when the Spaniard admitted the England international had been below his normal high standards twice this term.

But Anfield's pride and joy dismissed claims that he alone was on the receiving end from the manager, while claiming strong words in the camp had the desired effect on the team at Bolton.

Gerrard said: "The manager questioned the whole team after Monday's home defeat by Aston Villa, and rightly so. We were nowhere near good enough and we didn't play close to our standard.

"There has been a lot of soul-searching this week. The manager asked for character, determination and intensity and I think he got the three things he wanted from us all.

"We have had a couple of good meetings this week and we couldn't wait for this game to come around.

"We went behind twice but again we showed what character we have in this team.

"Going behind twice there are times when you think you are not going to get a point, never mind three, but we got our rewards in the end and we could have ended up scoring four or five."

Gerrard added: "We now go away on international duty and when we get back we will have a few new faces back in the squad with the lads who have been out injured, so that will give us a boost.

"We played so well last season and everyone was expecting us to start strongly again and win matches, but we all expected that ourselves.

"To lose two games already was a bit of a shock to us all but it is all about reactions. We know we have got a good team, a team that is capable of fighting for the title and we have got to go and prove that now."

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