Saturday, July 19, 2008


As Rafael Benitez prepares to send his side into pre-season action for the third time this evening, he has taken time out to salute the stars of the Reds' warm-up campaign so far.
With two victories behind them and a number of individuals catching the eye, there are plenty of reasons for the boss to feel positive about the early stages of pre-season - but he knows there is much more still to come.

Asked who has impressed him most during the pre-season, Benitez told "I will not say Pacheco because everyone is talking about him.

"Voronin played really well the other day and Lucas did well. It is also very positive to see Daniel Agger playing again. It's very positive for us to see the likes of Pacheco, Lucas and Voronin playing really well.

"All of the players are training very well and really hard. They are enjoying the training we are doing and that is the balance that you are looking for - to work hard and also to enjoy it.

"They are working really hard and you need to push them. We have been doing some tactical and technical work and we have also had the players in the gym as well. The physical level of the players is getting better and better after every training session.

"When you play a game you know sometimes they will be a little bit tired but this is pre-season and that is the idea. They are all doing really well."

The manager also revealed that new boys Philipp Degen and Andrea Dossena have made a good impact since their arrival in new surroundings.

"It is totally different for them because it is a new language," said Benitez. "I was talking today with Philipp and Andrea and we were speaking in English and trying to encourage them. I think they are trying to settle down quickly.

"We still have the four Spanish players on holiday and Dirk Kuyt arrived with us on Wednesday. When we bring all of the players back together it will be good for us because the understanding between them will be much better."

The manager also revealed his work never stops when it comes to trying to bring in new reinforcements, despite him being away from his Melwood office.

"My mobile is always on and it must be like this at this time," said Benitez. "If we can find the targets then that will be good."