Football - Liverpool FC: RAFAEL BENITEZ has reaffirmed his intention to stay – and has seen “no evidence” that Fernando Torres is seeking to leave the club in the summer.
Benitez’s future has been the source of constant speculation with the Spaniard poised for a further meeting with Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton over the future direction of the club.
While interest from Juventus has waned with the Serie A side yesterday appointing Luigi Del Neri as new coach, both Inter Milan and AC Milan are believed to be monitoring the situation at Anfield.
But Benitez yesterday once again declared his Liverpool commitment while defending his six-year tenure.
“My future is Liverpool,” said the Spaniard. “I have four more years of contract and I want to complete them. I have received no offers. I hope to make this team competitive again.
“My critics in London say that I am not a good manager and the experts with English accents here (in Spain) say the same thing, but they forget many things.
“Liverpool have had an average of 69 points over the last 12 seasons.”
Those 12 seasons are split equally between Benitez and Gerard Houllier. Benitez has averaged 72 league points in six years, peaking at 86 when they finished Premier League runners-up 12 months ago, while Houllier averaged 66, with a best of 80.
But Benitez admits the encouraging start to his Anfield reign – winning the Champions League, European Super Cup, FA Cup and Community Shield inside the first 26 months – is now working against him as he seeks to end a championship drought that stretches back to 1990.
“I made a huge error, which was to start by winning four trophies,” he said. “After that, people demand more of you, when in reality it is assumed at the start that coaches need time to adapt to the Premier League. It took (Sir Alex) Ferguson seven years to win the league.”
Torres, currently striving to be fit for the World Cup after knee surgery last month, is attracting strong interest from Manchester City, Chelsea and Barcelona. But Benitez said: “I have no evidence he wants to go.
“At the moment he is concentrating on his recuperation, winning the World Cup and after that he will think about his future.
“He has boosted the image of Liverpool in Asia because he drives the women crazy over there.”
The Liverpool manager has also dismissed suggestions from Albert Riera that he does not talk to his players while reiterating the winger’s Anfield future is over.
Riera made the accusation in an interview with a Spanish radio station in March during which he labelled Benitez’s regime as a “sinking ship”.
And Benitez responded: “It is a lie that I do not speak with the players – on the contrary, they say that I am too heavy.
“The normal thing is that he will leave Liverpool. He made a mistake in an interview and I have witnesses and videos of something I am not going to talk about.”
Benitez was referring to a bust-up between Riera and a promising youngster for which the winger was suspended, fined and frozen out at Liverpool.
With a loan move to Spartak Moscow having collapsed, the lack of action cost Riera his place in Spain’s 2010 World Cup squad.
And the winger has pointed the finger at the Anfield board for failing to intervene in his supposed conflict with the club’s manager.
“I want to leave” he said.
“English clubs are run differently than Spanish clubs.
“In England you have a manager at the club, and the board of the club has done nothing for me. The club has not put up any fight for me.
“I do not want to quarrel with somebody, but if a club doesn’t fight for you, that means that they don’t want you.
“I do not want to be in a place where I am not wanted.”