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Pressure's On at Anfield

Outside Anfield, the excitement is mounting ahead of the 2007-08 EPL season. Inside, however, it's the pressure that's rising. Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was given the money he needed to strengthen the squad he described as inadequate following the Reds' Champions League final loss to AC Milan some three months ago. Eight players and an estimated $80 million later, it looks like Benitez got exactly what he wished for; he can have no excuses if his Reds fail to perform this season.

To his credit, says the Guardian's Louise Taylor, Benitez has added attacking players--for the most part. Creators Yossi Benayoun and Ryan Babel will be charged with supplying fodder for new strikers Andriy Voronin and Fernando Torres. A close eye will be kept on the latter, in particular. The Spaniard cost about half of Benitez's total off-season cash haul.

But the pressure is mostly on Benitez himself after throwing a few public tantrums. Liverpool's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett will require a major trophy this season -- after all, they also have a pricey new stadium to finance. So too will its fans, who were all but promised great things if Benitez got the cash to spend. Indeed, Torres is an impressive capture; Babel, Benayoun and Gabriel Heinze (if everything goes well in court) could prove to be savvy ones.

Read the whole story at The Guardian »

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