Pressure mounting on “dejected” Benitez

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Monday’s Newspaper Review

Three disappointing draws in a row does is not winning Rafa any friends amongst the newspaper writers. After yesterday’s 1-1 draw in the FA Cup at Luton Town, this morning’s back pages are filled with headlines regarding mounting pressure on the Spaniard. Reports over the weekend suggested that former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho is interested in taking over from Benitez, should the Liverpool boss be shown the door by American tycoon owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks this summer. As Benitez reiterates his love for the club and ambition to stay longer than the two years remaining on his contract and bring back the Anfield glory days, there is unfortunately one commonly agreed theme running through the media ‘“ they all say his days are numbered’¦

We start with this morning’s Irish Examiner which depicts a ‘œdejected’ Benitez at full time at Kenilworth Road yesterday having seen his side put out a lacklustre performance against the League One strugglers.

Benitez, brow furrowed and hands thrust deep into his pockets, cut a dejected figure and understandably so after a day he will want to forget, and quickly.

The stories claiming Gillett and Hicks are ready to sack Rafa have been circulating almost on a daily basis for over a month now, and this morning’s The Times describes the increasing pressure he must be feeling.

Although it has been widely reported that defeat by Inter Milan in the Champions League next month would signal the end of his tenure at Anfield and clear the way for a possible move to Real Madrid next summer, BenÍtez stonewalled suggestions that he feels under increasing pressure.

‘œI love the club, I love the fans, I want to stay,’ BenÍtez said after his side had been held to a 1-1 draw by Luton Town, the Coca-Cola League One side, in yesterday’s FA Cup third-round tie at Kenilworth Road. ‘œI have two [and a half] more years of contract and if I can stay for more than two, I will be really happy.’ Had he spoken to the Americans recently? ‘œDo I need to ask every day? No. I will not talk about this all the time. We are working together trying to improve the squad, now and also for the future.’

On the game itself, The Independent’s Sam Wallace was less than impressed with the Reds’ performance.

Luton Town in administration; Liverpool seized by desperation. Fabio Capello came to watch English football’s most successful club yesterday but the England manager will have left admiring the tenacity of a League One side facing financial oblivion and playing as if their livelihoods depended upon it.

And finally, the FA Cup fourth round draw takes place at Soho Square at 1.30pm today and will be made by Alan Cork and John Aldridge.

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