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Liverpool vrs Fulham: Match Preview

last updated Friday 09th November 2007, 11:06 PM
Lawrie Sanchez
Lawrie Sanchez
Liverpool v Fulham: Preview

Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez has called on the transfer window to be scrapped as it is costing too many managers their jobs.

Chris Hutchings left Wigan this week, becoming the fourth boss to part company with a Barclays Premier League club this season.

Sanchez believes the transfer embargo between September and January is piling the pressure on managers, particularly those outside the top four.

Sanchez, who is in his first full season of top-flight club management, said: "I don't think the transfer window has turned out as everybody expected.

"The idea was you would close the window and the manager would get on with the team they have got.

"What has happened is the big clubs have accumulated loads of players so they can get through the window, and any they don't need they loan to Championship clubs.

"The rest of us are in a situation where we can't accumulate loads of players, so we are no better off.

"Because there are no transfers between September and January, the new game on the block is name the next manager to get sacked.

"That's what all the speculation is, because any transfer talk is pretty irrelevant in that time.

"It has put extra pressure on managers and has not helped the situation. It has basically worked against the smaller clubs, and for the better of bigger clubs.

"It was a great idea at the time, but I think it is time for the window to be dropped. It stops smaller clubs bring able to sell their players when they need to. Whatever reason it was set up for, it has not worked.''

Carlos Bocanegra returns from suspension, but Elliott Omozusi must serve a ban after his sending off last week against Reading.

Chris Baird is fit and will return to the starting line-up, but youngster Nathan Ashton has picked up a thigh injury and misses out.

Shefki Kuqi could be handed his full debut in attack, and Alexey Smertin will be considered if Sanchez opts for a five-man midfield at Anfield. Paul Konchesky serves the final match of a three-game ban.

Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez
Manager Rafael Benitez insists being part of a record-breaking 8-0 European rout does not guarantee a place in his Liverpool side.

The Anfield boss prepares for the arrival of struggling Fulham on Saturday in just the sort of position he loves.

He has players in form, others returning from injury and fierce competition for places.

Peter Crouch, named in the England squad on Friday, returned from exile to score twice against Besiktas in midweek but that will not automatically ensure he continues in Benitez's front line.

With the manager's rotation policy meaning he is now in the 90s in terms of changes he has made to his team line-up this season, Crouch, fit-again Fernando Torres, Andriy Voronin and Dirk Kuyt must wait for the team-sheet at Anfield to know whether they have made the first team.

Benitez's style may infuriate critics and fans alike but the Spaniard will not be deflected from his established policy.

"I was happy with the Champions League performance but I have not decided who plays in the next game. We will look at their fitness and analyse performances,'' said the manager.

"The situation does not worry me. I can chose from four strikers who I believe are all playing well but I can understand why people ask the question.

"I was pleased with Crouch but I must repeat that Voronin did not score but was the best player on the pitch for us going forward.

"I like to see all my players doing well and I prefer to have the problem of deciding which players will be in the team.

"The midweek win was more about good team work rather than one or two players doing well.

"Crouch was good - and I don't want to give any other impression - but when we brought him to the club it was because we knew he was a good player.

"But Voronin didn't score and played well, (Yossi) Benayoun, (Ryan) Babel, (Fabio) Aurelio, (Alvaro) Arbeloa, they all played well. I like to see all of my players doing as well as possible.

"Torres was fit to play in the week and will be in the squad against Fulham but now I have to decide whether he plays.

"If I had to pick a team for a cup final tomorrow, all I can say is that I would be able to pick two good strikers.''

Harry Kewell, substitute in the last two games after a season sidelined through injury, is in contention, Daniel Agger is expected back in three weeks, Xabi Alonso in a month, while Jermaine Pennant is out until the new year.

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