Liverpool's new American owners, George Gillett Jr. and Tom Hicks, were welcomed to the wild side of English soccer with front-page headlines of out-of-control partying during the Reds' stay in Portugal, where Manager Rafael Benitez brought the team to prepare for Wednesday's UEFA Champions League showdown at defending champion Barcelona.
With a free weekend -- made possible because they have already been eliminated from the English FA Cup -- Benitez took the Reds to the upscale Algarve resort of Vale do Lobo, where after five days of training he allowed his players a night out on Thursday.
While the partying may not have been as wild as first reported in the British press, several players faced possible fines for the night out that ended with Benitez being awoken to straighten things out. After a night of drinking at Monty's Restaurant and Bar, a
local establishment, Welshman Craig
Bellamy reportedly sought out teammate
Arne Riise and threatened to whack the Norwegian
in the legs with a golf club in a dispute over a karaoke contest.
Polish keeper Jerzy Dudek was
reported to have been briefly handcuffed after arguing with an off-duty
policeman at the bar.
"We will take disciplinary action and fine any of them who are found to
have breached club rules during our stay in Portugal," Benitez said in
a statement on Sunday.
Bellamy, who has a history of out-of-control behavior, had been warned
about his behavior when he was signed from Blackburn in June and could
be on his way out of Anfield at the end of the season. Dudek's contract expires in June and won't return. Riise, who reportedly was not
drinking, has a contract with Liverpool through the 2008-09 season.