Mascherano hails Benitez
Javier Mascherano has offered an indication of his happiness at Liverpool after praising Rafa Benitez.
Last Updated: 26/03/10 11:15am
Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano has offered an additional indication of his happiness at Anfield after heaping praise on manager Rafa Benitez.
The Argentina captain is close to signing a new contract and said on Thursday that he hopes to agree a deal in the 'next few weeks'.
Mascherano was strongly linked with Barcelona last summer, but has told Liverpool that he wants to stay and it would appear that Benitez is a major factor in that decision.
Albert Riera has been highly critical of the Spaniard's managerial style, but Mascherano believes his boss has made him 'a better player and a better person'.
"All managers have different ways of working," said the 25-year-old, who was rescued from the fringes of a struggling West Ham squad in January 2007 by Benitez.
"Rafa is totally different from (Argentina coach) Diego Maradona and the other managers I've had.
"For three and a half years I've been working with Rafa and I can now say I'm a better player and a better person from when I arrived here. That's down to Rafa and his staff."
After a below-par start to the season when is was suggested Mascherano's head had been turned by the Barcelona speculation, the defensive midfielder has become one of Liverpool's most reliable performers in a difficult campaign.
He believes the team have to win their remaining seven matches, starting with a home game against Sunderland on Sunday, to secure fourth place in the Premier League and the resulting UEFA Champions League football next season.
"I think we will have to win all our games. We have seven finals and we have to win all of them to have hope of finishing fourth," said Mascherano.
"If we can win 21 points, maybe we will be there. If not, it will be very difficult."
Liverpool have won only four times in the Premier League on their travels this season and Mascherano is aware that statistic needs to be addressed.
"I think the problem for us this season has been the away form," he said.
"Obviously we have to keep going in the same way at home, but if we want to have hopes of finishing fourth, we have to improve away."