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RAFA BENITEZ has told Liverpool: I want to stay here and lead you to glory.

The Anfield chief remains on the brink following his outburst against American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett over the past four days.

His position is still so tenuous that some bookmakers have him as odds-on favourite to be the next top-flight boss out of a job.

Yet Benitez seems almost bemused by all the fuss and cannot accept the Americans do not believe he is the right man to take the Reds to that elusive first Premier League crown.

For all he still wants to bring in a new centre-back in January, plus a couple of Bosman signings, Benitez knows things are moving in the right direction.

To stay on track in Europe he must beat Porto tonight and then win in Marseille next month to avoid a humiliating group-stage exit.

Yet he is not even contemplating defeat tonight. And he is just as adamant that the club already has the right man in place to lead them back to their glories of old.

Benitez, 47, said: “I think I have a squad capable of challenging. I am confident I can be leading them out in the Champions League final. I have confidence we will go through and I have confidence in the squad.

“I want to win every game. I have lots of confidence we will win tomorrow, I will not even consider anything else.

“I also believe I've built a squad here that is capable of challenging for the Champions League and the Premier League and I believe we're in a strong position to do so.

“We're much stronger than when I first arrived and look at the value of the players now. In my opinion this team has shown in every game they are progressing and have the qualities required.

“We had some setbacks early on, especially in the Champions League, but we have nine more points in the Premier League than at this stage last season. We are unbeaten and in a strong position for the future.

“We are three points behind Manchester United with a game in hand, so it is clear we are well placed to challenge. I believe we will improve more as the season progresses.

“I have every confidence this team is better than before — but I don't want to talk about anything else.â€

And when it was put to him that he wanted to take Liverpool all the way to the final in Moscow in May, the answer was swift and to the point: “Of course, for sure. My commitment to the club is clear.â€

Whether that will still be enough to appease the Americans who remain incensed at last week's events remains to be seen.

But what is certain is that, just as defeat would leave him hanging by a thread, victory — and continued success ON the pitch — would certainly add weight to his chances of staying in charge.

The fans will stage a massive show of support with a vociferous march from the nearby Sandon pub to Anfield this evening — although how much impact that will have on two owners currently 3,000 miles away is debatable.

And in many ways, although something of an olive branch was extended by the Spaniard, the backing down is a long way from being complete. At no stage yesterday did he offer an apology or admit he regretted anything that has gone on.

Instead he merely insisted: “I just want to concentrate on and talk about the Porto game. That is the most important thing for the club, the team and the supporters.

“There have been no distractions whatsoever — I'm thinking about Porto and nothing else.â€

Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina, one of the manager's closest confidantes, insisted: “We must beat Porto to make people believe in the job the manager is doing.

“We are all absoltely sure Rafa's doing a brilliant job and has been doing so for four years.â€
 

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Smeghead Moderator
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It's not Benitez' choice though is it?

It's up to the new owners.

There have been reports today that 5000 Scousers will be involved in the march from the pub to Anfield before the game to show their support for Benitez. I'm interested to find out if this actually happens or not.
 

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I'd like them to get their butts kicked tonight.....

Then they are out the CL......

I know they can then rest their team before we play them - as we too can....

But we can beat Liverpool anyway so this is not a worry !!

Come on Porto, lol.......:p

Lucky gits......

Still have to win in France though !!!!
 
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