By Sean Taylor
When left-sided midfield player Luís García joined Liverpool FC for €9m from FC Barcelona during the summer of 2004, he was joining a club full of confidence and expectant of a new era of success under a new coach, Rafael Benítez, who had just won the UEFA Cup with Valencia CF.
However, injuries and fickle form have left Liverpool well off the pace in the Premiership and out of the FA Cup, with only the prospect of Sunday's League Cup final against Chelsea FC and the possibility of success in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League keeping their season alive.
On the eve of their first leg against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Luís García was keen to accentuate the positives. He told uefa.com: "I think we are doing well and making progress quickly but I think the fans know that the team is in a transitional period at the moment."
One of a small flotilla of Spanish players who have joined Benítez's Liverpool 'Rafalution', the attack-minded player has settled in to life in the Premiership better than most. "Overall I am pleased with my performances but I feel that the best is yet to come," said the 26-year-old.
A former Camp Nou trainee who has played for Real Valladolid, CD Toledo, CD Tenerife and Club Atlético de Madrid, Luís García freely admits that he came to Liverpool to make his name. "
I wanted to make something great of my career and eventually I will do that here," he said.
However, as he picked up the No10 shirt worn by Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes that was vacated by Real Madrid CF-bound Michael Owen, he may not have been aware how great a mantle he was taking on. However, Luís García is a player who likes a challenge.
"Dalglish is a hero at Anfield, Barnes was a great player and I know how much Michael Owen meant to the fans here, but I like the number and I want to wear it," he said. "It's a great challenge when you think of the players who have worn the shirt in the past and I want to be remembered as a great No10 too."
He believes that Benítez, who coached him at Tenerife, is the man to help him do that. "That I was willing to give up my home and family in Barcelona and my place in the team to join him at Liverpool shows how much I think of Rafael," he said. "I have a lot of faith in the manager because he has always shown faith in me and I think he will bring success back to Liverpool if the fans give him time.
"He showed at Valencia that he is one of the best coaches around and I think he can achieve even bigger things by bringing trophies to Anfield," he added. "Above all, I like the way his teams play and here at Liverpool we are all on the same wavelength and playing as a team."
If they can prove that in Tuesday's home leg against Leverkusen, Liverpool will ease the pressure on their coach, although they may have to wait for bigger prizes. Luís García said: "Hopefully the team will win a trophy because it is important to win things, but if that doesn't happen this season then it will next year."
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