Arbeloa shocked by 'inhumane' start to life under Benitez


Last updated at 08:38 28 March 2008

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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Fitting in: Arbeloa is now settled at Anfield

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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