Rafa ridicules CL playoff proposal

Rafa ridicules CL playoff proposal

Published Feb. 17, 2010 7:21 p.m. ET

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has ridiculed the idea of a Champions League place play-off because the fixture list is already too congested.

Reports this week claimed the Premier League were looking into the prospect of having the sides from fourth to seventh face each other post-season to decide the remaining spot for Europe's elite club competition.

It is a scenario which could work both ways for Liverpool, who have consistently finished in the top four but have seen their stranglehold threatened by Manchester City, Tottenham and Aston Villa this season.

But Benitez is keen for the team which deserves to finish fourth to get the final spot and not complicate the season even further.

"I have to agree with (Everton manager) David Moyes," said the Liverpool boss. "He said what would it mean for a team like Tottenham if they finish fourth and, after a fantastic season, have to play a team who finishes seventh maybe 20 points behind just to keep the competition alive?

"To play three, maybe four fixtures, when you don't have time with international football - when will you play, how can you play these games and what does it mean for the team that finishes fourth?"

Benitez added: "Maybe we can do the same with the teams at the bottom of the table. If you finish fourth maybe you could play with the team who finished third from the bottom.

"Then during the whole season we can play 50 games and we don't have to rest so that will be fantastic.

"We can be in the office analysing the fixtures and creating different schedules and different things and the players will be injured.

"If we continue playing games we will end up playing three games a week - which is fantastic for the television companies.

"We are playing too much now. They were talking about the 39th game being played in Asia so if we now play the play-offs we will be playing until the end of the century."

The Champions League has been brought into more focus at Anfield this week as Liverpool conceded fourth spot to City on Tuesday night and, having failed to qualify for the knock-out stages, face Unirea Urziceni in the much-maligned Europa League at Anfield on Thursday.

It is not an environment the five-time European champions are accustomed to but Benitez stressed as it was their only chance of winning silverware this season UEFA's second-tier competition had to be taken seriously.

Liverpool have been installed as one of the favourites to win the cup but their Spanish manager said that did not put any extra pressure on his side.

But after a campaign which has already seen early exits from the Champions League, FA Cup and Premier League title race Benitez rejected suggestions failure to win a trophy would be seen as another crisis by critics.

"There are a lot of clubs in a worse position than us. They don't play European competition ever and it is not the end of the world for these clubs," he said.

"When you talk about Liverpool people talk about the history of the club but the history is not [currently] winning trophies.

"Since the Premier League the money has had a massive influence. You can see in the last years the teams which have won trophies are Chelsea and [Manchester] United - the teams with more wages than anyone.

"There is a relationship between this.

"We are a strong club and a top side who are famous in Europe but we need to keep competing and do our best against clubs who sometimes have more money available.

"When you talk about the UEFA Cup or Europa League now it is a massive competition and we have do our best and progress until the end.

"If we cannot it means maybe the teams are at this moment better than us and then we have to prepare the team for next year and be ready.

"That is life - you cannot win trophies every single year and especially with the economic conditions we have against the teams we have to compete against."