Benitez still building
Phil Thompson says that despite signing Fernando Torres, Rafa Benitez needs more big name players.
Last Updated: 01/08/07 3:23am
People will argue that after splashing £20m on Fernando Torres this summer the pressure is on Rafa Benitez to deliver the title to Liverpool.
But it's difficult to expect the likes of Fernando Torres to fire the Reds to glory in his first year in English football, as we have seen in the past with Didier Drogba at Chelsea.
This is the first time since Benitez arrived at Anfield that he has been able to spend like Manchester United and Chelsea on big players.
Yes he has spent a lot in his three years at the club, but this is the first time he has been able to go out and spend £20m on one player.
As Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho will know, having that type of money to spend brings its own pressures and Rafa will have to deal with that.
After reaching the Champions League final for the second time in three years this season was always going to be a big one, but with the investment from the new owners Rafa has to deliver.
I know from my own time at Liverpool with Gerard Houllier the pressure comes on after three or four years and all of a sudden everybody is expecting you to take the next step.
Yet I believe that if Liverpool are to end their 17 year wait for the League title they need to sign more established world class players, like Torres.
Ajax's Ryan Babel is a highly promising youngster, while Yossi Benayoun and Gabi Heinze (if he signs) are quality if not world beating players.
But Rafa must look at United's summer spending and realise how high the bar has been raised, with Owen Hargreaves, Nani, Anderson and maybe Carlos Tevez all major additions to the champions' squad.
Fernando Torres is a fantastic player, but it's going to take him a year to settle into English football and at 23 he can't be expected to carry Liverpool on his own.
If the board can give Rafa further funds to go out and entice another couple of 'marquee players' to Anfield, then I will be more convinced at their chances of capturing the Premiership title.
Let's not forget that Liverpool finished last year 21 points behind United, who have strengthened heavily again, and 15 behind Chelsea who have made some shrewd free transfer signings as well as adding Florent Malouda to their ranks.
Rafa's primary objective must be to close that gap on the top two and ensure that Liverpool can compete and push hard for the title all season and not be left behind after just 10 games.
Benitez knows the Premiership is the Holy Grail for Liverpool and their fans, and with a bit more backing and a bit more time he will get there, just maybe not this year.