Vol. 5 Num 400 Tue. July 12, 2005  

Starting afresh with Morientes

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has described Fernando Morientes as 'like a new signing' and revealed he has high hopes for him this coming season.

Morientes netted twice in Liverpool's opening pre-season fixture at Wrexham on Saturday and looked sharp during the 45 minutes he was on the pitch.

The Spanish striker endured a frustrating time at Anfield since joining the Reds from Real Madrid during the January transfer window.

Prior to Saturday he'd netted just three goals in 14 games but Benitez was impressed with what he saw from him at the Racecourse Ground and remains a big admirer.

"He's almost like a new signing," Benitez said.

"Last season he wasn't training for three or four months, so it was difficult when he came in because the pace here is higher than it is in Spain. Here it is more physical too.

"People say all the time that football is the same in all the countries, but it's not true. Some players need four, five or six months to adjust.

"He can play in the Champions League which is good news for us and I hope he can score more goals for us in the league."

Benitez will have Morientes, Djibril Cisse and Milan Baros vying for striking positions next season.

Cisse joined the Anfield club last summer for 14 million pounds but only played 15 games before breaking his leg. He retuned to play in the Champions League final win over AC Milan.

And Benitez will be hoping for a fully-committed Harry Kewell who had groin surgery in May after an injury-plagued season.