Rafa Benitez believes the experience of being in a title race will stand his players in good stead for future campaigns. While refusing to throw in the towel on the Reds’ Barclays Premier League dream, the Liverpool boss feels the lessons learnt from this season could prove invaluable in years to come.
“The team, the squad, has shown that it’s better and this is a fantastic experience for the next years because we are in a position now that we were not before, for me that is the positive thing,” said Benitez.
“Always you can talk about trophies but in England there are so many strong sides, it’s not easy. At least you have to be there, you have to be contending – then you see what happens.
“We have four games now to finish the season and we’re still in the title race so I think it’s very positive.
“Normally when you play this level you know that at the end of the season you will play for trophies and can lose but if you analyse the whole season I think the team’s done very well, especially without Gerrard and Torres for a lot of games.
“I have confidence that we can fight until the end. After that, it’s very good experience because we have been in a position we were not before, not for a long time.” With four games remaining Liverpool are three points behind league leaders Manchester United, who also have a game in hand.
“I have confidence United will drop points. So we need to keep going, keep doing our job, put them under pressure and then we will see,” added Benitez.
The Reds kept the pressure on United with a 3-1 victory over Hull City on Saturday, and although delighted to pick up maximum points from a potentially tricky fixture, Benitez claims his side can improve on their display.
“We were talking with the players about these kinds of games that could be the difference,” said the Anfield chief.
“This year we’ve won against the top sides, so these kind of games, which we’ve been drawing, have to be the difference in the future.
“We assessed the game and I thought we could control it, but it was difficult because they were pushing. We were making mistakes, and we need to improve.”
While the result keeps Liverpool firmly in the hunt for the title, Hull remain hovering perilously just above the relegation zone, but Benitez is backing the Tigers to beat the drop.
He said: “I think Hull can be safe. It’ll be difficult for all the teams near the bottom because they’ll play now with more nerves, more anxiety, but I think it will be a good battle – if you’re not in it. But Hull have the potential to stay up.”