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 John 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.