Saturday’s Back Pages

The Reds travel to the Madejski Stadium to face Reading this evening and have a huge ‘season defining’ week ahead of them, but Rafa Benitez has been relaxing by surfing the net and watching a video impression of himself and Jose Mourinho.

The Guardian Reports:

“I was watching a video on YouTube the other day of a person imitating me,” said Benítez, demolishing the belief that Premier League managers have no free time, while increasing the suspicion they all have a touch of vanity. “It is a comedian imitating [Jose] Mourinho and Benítez. They are asked about a recipe and a result and I say, ‘We scored two goals, they scored one, so we won. They scored two goals, we scored one, so we lost. We both scored three goals, so it is a draw’. I could recognise Mourinho but I couldn’t recognise myself, maybe Mourinho recognises me but not himself! But it was funny.”

Here’s the video in question:

This week not only do the Reds have two key fixtures on the pitch with the trip to Marseille and then the Sunday showdown with Man United, but it also sees an important meeting off the pitch, with George Gillett and Tom Hicks arriving in the country. Benitez said on Friday:

“Me and Foster (Gillett, George’s son) have talked. We have spoken about everything, about how we know that we have a different idea than we had before, how the team is now playing well, all of those things. We know there was a misunderstanding but now we need to wait until December 16 and talk with Tom Hicks and George Gillett.”

Worryingly, Oliver Kay in The Times says despite recent impressive results the doubts remain over Benitez’s future, he writes:

That BenÍtez can raise a laugh is encouraging at a time when he knows that others, notably Liverpool’s American owners, have been forming a less than favourable impression of him. His position at Anfield remains parlous in the long term after a series of disagreements with Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr and he is well aware that his future could hinge not only on results over the next eight days – away to Reading this evening and Marseilles in the Champions League on Tuesday and at home to Manchester United a week tomorrow ‘“ but also on his long-overdue peace summit with Hicks and Gillett when they arrive on Merseyside next weekend.

The word from within Anfield is that victories in Liverpool’s past five matches have had little effect on BenÍtez’s job prospects, which are more likely to be determined by relations at boardroom level than out on the pitch. He must find harmony with the owners if he is to have any hope of staying in charge of the club next season and, to that end, he has tried this week to build up an understanding with Gillett’s son, Foster, the unofficial ‘œgo-between’, whose absence from his Merseyside office for much of last month was a significant factor in the breakdown in communications.

Meanwhile, Rafa has requested the players not to watch Ricky Hatton’s fight with Floyd Mayweather in the early hours of the morning. Benitez said on Thursday:

“I have told them it is really important to rest, especially where we are playing late away and then away again soon after.”

“I hope the players will not be staying up to watch the fight, because we need rest when we play games close together. They have DVD’s to tape it and watch later. It is important the players rest properly.”

Gerrard and Riise sent the Hitman their best wishes via the press. Gerrard says he’ll be following the bosses orders and not watching the fight:

“Best of luck mate. I hope you get what you want out of the fight. Everyone at Liverpool it rooting for you.

“Unfortunately we have a massive game on Tuesday so I won’t be able to watch it live – I will be recording it though.”

Riise added:

“All the best Ricky. I’ve been watching the build-up and it’s been really annoying me, so you really have to take him down. I know you’re a Man City fan but you’ve got our support.”