Real Zaragoza's Pennant blames Benitez for Liverpool woes

Real Zaragoza winger Jermaine Pennant says Rafa Benitez is to blame for Liverpool's troubles this season.

Real Zaragoza winger Jermaine Pennant says Rafa Benitez is to blame for Liverpool's troubles this season.

Pennant believes the Spaniard's managerial style and cautious tactics have resulted in some high-profile players finding their best form elsewhere.

"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. It should be a lot easier," 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."

Pennant insists his criticism of his former Reds manager is nothing personal.

"I have no qualms or bad feelings about Rafa and I still love the club but there are times when you feel restricted at Liverpool," added Pennant, who was freed by Liverpool last summer.

"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. 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."

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