Arbeloa shocked by 'inhumane' start to life under Benitez

Alvaro Arbeloa has opened up on the strict regime at Liverpool and claimed he had to endure an 'inhumane' first few weeks before adapting to the demands of manager Rafa Benitez.

The 25-year-old full back has underlined his worth since arriving from Deportivo La Coruna for £2.5million 14 months ago and earned his first cap for Spain in Wednesday's 1-0 win over Italy.

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Alvaro Arbeloa of Liverpool

Alvaro Arbeloa of Liverpool

As he prepared for Sunday's Merseyside derby with Everton at Anfield, though, he admitted Benitez's tough approach in training had caught him by surprise.

'I didn't know where I was in my first week with Liverpool,' he said. 'It went badly, and the image I remember from those early days is of the manager criticising everything I did, from the way I did some basketball practice to how I played my football.

'My first fortnight at the club was inhumane, but I am grateful to him now for filling me in on how the team works. It is a well-run club and I found it easy to adapt to their way of working.

'People say the manager is grumpy but I have only seen that once. He is serious-minded, though, and I can assure you nobody enjoys themselves during the training sessions. There is a great seriousness about them because that is where we go to work.'

Off the pitch, though, Arbeloa has found the regime more forgiving. 'Things are different over here compared to Spain,' he said. 'Star players can go out and have a beer and nobody will cause them any trouble.'

Arbeloa described how Jamie Carragher rules Liverpool's dressing room while Steven Gerrard is the team's inspiration on the field.

'Jamie is the true boss in the changing room,' he said. 'He orders everyone around and yells a lot but, to be fair, he has a CV equal to Fernando Hierro's for Real Madrid and the Spain national team. He sees and hears everything and keeps us informed about what is happening.

'Gerrard is also important. He is like Zinedine Zidane ¿ a genius who doesn't like to be the centre of attention. He is the first to make runs, to lend a hand or to get stuck in when necessary.'

Arbeloa conceded Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo leads the running for Footballer of the Year but loyally declared that his countryman Fernando Torres deserved the prize.

'Ronaldo's confidence level is so high everything he tries seems to come off and he is a step ahead of everyone else at the moment,' said Arbeloa.

'Alex Hleb of Arsenal and Chelsea's Joe Cole have also caught my eye but Torres has been massive for us. He has created a lot of goals for himself and is on a par with the best and I am sure he will be voted Footballer of the Year ahead of Ronaldo.

'He is an idol who has earned his stripes, particularly at Anfield, where he has scored most of his goals.'

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