Former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant has blamed Rafael Benitez for undermining the Reds’ chances of winning the Premier League title.
Pennant, who left Anfield to join Real Zaragoza in the summer, believes the Spaniard’s cautious tactics have resulted in several players not performing at their best for the club.
“I don’t see how a player can play at an average team and be great and go to Liverpool and be not as great,” Pennant told the Guardian.
“Liverpool have had some great strikers come and go – Robbie Keane is scoring goals at Tottenham, Peter Crouch is scoring now. It didn’t happen at Liverpool: it must be about how the manager relates to players, how the tactics are and how he restricts players. The coach plays a big part when you arrive at a new team. If he restricts you, it’s going to make you play differently.”
Liverpool have already lost four times in the Premier League this season, are in the midst of their worst run of form in 22 years. Defeat to the reigning champions Manchester United would leave Liverpool 10 points behind the Premier League leaders.
And Pennant believes that it is Benitez’s negative tactics that are hindering the club’s ability to challenge for the major honours.
“He’s a great manager and there are times when he is a genius but sometimes his approach can take the best out of you,” said Pennant. “Liverpool are a great side but they need to let loose and express themselves a bit. Look at Barcelona – you don’t see them restricted, you see them breaking all sorts of shackles and they win things. Maybe if Liverpool went that way a bit they would be even better.”