Benitez vows to fight on
Liverpool - Under-pressure Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez insisted he will see out the five-year contract he signed earlier this year and welcomed the backing he has received from key players and the club's hierarchy.
Benitez's position has been placed in the spotlight as a result of Liverpool's group-stage exit from the Champions League and poor domestic form, which means they head into Sunday's Merseyside derby at Everton lying seventh in the Premier League table.
But the likes of Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Jose Reina have all voiced confidence in Benitez's ability to engineer a turnaround while the club's managing director, Christian Purslow, has played down the financial implications of Liverpool dropping to the Europa League.
The anticipated return of Torres at Goodison Park should help lift morale and Benitez was at pains to stress his personal commitment to the club, reminding his critics that he had stayed loyal to Liverpool when there was a chance of him taking the manager's job at Real Madrid, where he played and started his coaching career.
"When I signed my new contract I had offers from other clubs for more money, and a lot more money to spend in the transfer market," Benitez said. "But I decided to stay because I felt we had a very good team.
"We will prove this during the rest of the season. It is a long race and we know we are not playing at the level we can, but we will improve, we will be back in Europe."
Benitez added: "When I decided to stay here, I knew that we could be facing a difficult season. I was aware that a lot of things could happen and the competition would be stronger. But I decided to stay because I wanted to."
Making it clear that he was referring to Real, the Spaniard continued: "Look, I was a Real Madrid fan. I knew off by heart the names of the Real Madrid team that played Liverpool in the European Cup final of 1981.
"I was a fan, and also a Madrid player at that time. Now, considering that, I decided to stay in Liverpool because I liked the city, I liked the fans, I liked the life here and the passion in the Premier League.
"Why am I telling you this? Because when I decided to stay here, I wanted to fight for this club.
"I had signed a new five-year contract because I wanted to fight for Liverpool.
"Sometimes it is good, sometimes there are bad moments. But still I will fight."