Benitez demands fab five to rescue Liverpool

LIVERPOOL, England, April 30, 2010 (AFP) - Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said that he may need to sign up to five new players after watching his side miss out on the Europa League final.

The five-time European champions defeated Atletico Madrid 2-1 at Anfield in Thursday's semi-final second leg, but went out on the away goals rule after the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate after extra-time.

Liverpool's defender Jamie Carragher (C) vies with Atletico Madrid's captain Antonio Lopez (L) during their UEFA Europa League Semi Final second leg football match at Anfield in Liverpool on April 29 2010. AFP PHOTO

Benitez admitted that his squad needed strengthening after a fourth successive season without a trophy.

"The season has not been good enough. It's clear that we have had some problems," said the deflated Liverpool manager.

"We have two games left and we have to try and do well in those games.

"We have had too many problems, too many injuries. How extensive in the summer? Maybe we need three, four or five players."

Benitez, who has been linked with Juventus, again dodged questions about his Anfield future.

Fast approaching his sixth anniversary since taking over the Merseyside club, the Spaniard added: "Am I planning for the future? The future is Chelsea on Sunday. After that it is Hull on the final day of the season.

"I don't know what will happen in the summer."

Benitez refused to offer excuses after sloppy defending allowed former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan, who scored the only goal in the first leg, to strike the killer blow in extra-time.

Yossi Benayoun's goal in the early stages of extra-time looked to have booked Liverpool a ticket to the Hamburg final on May 12 after Alberto Aquilani had broken the deadlock at the end of the first half.

"We were on top for a long time," added Benitez.

"We knew we had to keep working even after Benayoun had scored. The players were really tired in the end because they had been working so hard."

Benitez denied suggestions that another trophy-less season would make it harder for the club to attract world-class players especially with the Anfield giants destined to miss out on the Champions League qualifying places.

"Liverpool is a massive club," added Benitez, whose side have less than 72 hours to regroup before they entertain title hopefuls Chelsea. "We will try and do our best."

Forlan hailed Atletico's work ethic after Quique Sanchez Flores's side, marooned in mid-table in La Liga, booked a Europa Final showdown with Fulham.

"We have a fantastic spirit," said the Uruguay international. "We kept going to the end even after Liverpool scored their second."

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