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Athens woe prompted Benitez outburst May 29 2007 by Mark Lawrenson, Liverpool Daily Post RAFAEL BENITEZ’S reaction to the Champions League final defeat might have set alarm bells ringing among fans and boardroom members. But I for one won’t be worrying about the future of the manager despite the fact that he sounded pretty fed up with things in the aftermath of the defeat to AC Milan. When you break it down, what he actually said wasn’t anything we didn’t already know. We know Liverpool need better players and have to rebuild the squad again. We know the new owners have to splash the cash to make them more competitive with Manchester United and Chelsea. We know that signings are better made sooner rather than later because bringing in players later on in the summer doesn’t help, as proven by the transfer activity at Anfield last year. I think what Rafa was most upset about on Thursday morning was the fact that he knows he will probably never get a better chance to win a second European Cup. He just transferred this disappointment into his press conference and, because it was his final and arguably most important one of the season it generated the most sensational stories. But I have no doubt it was the result in Athens, rather than concerns over his long-term future with Liverpool, that was really bugging Benitez. That Milan team won’t go down as one of the better teams to have won the European Cup and for long periods in the game Liverpool did manage to subdue them. But when you’re playing well you have to score at those times and that’s what cost Liverpool. If they had done it and won a sixth European Cup there wouldn’t have been the same negative spin on the questioning to Rafa so he might not have made those bold statements and the headlines that appeared towards the end of the week would never have surfaced. But that wouldn’t have done anything to alter the fact that things do need to change at Liverpool. By publicly demanding money from the owners – which they have now agreed to come up with – I don’t think Benitez has put himself under any more pressure than he normally does anyway. He’s been around long enough to know the law of the jungle. Once you establish yourself as a top four club you have to win something and you have to come up with the goods on a consistent basis. This coming season, Benitez’s fourth, was always going to be the one when he really had to produce so what he said last week doesn’t make any difference to that. He can cope with the pressure and the expectation and, when you strip away the disappointment of Athens, he has arguably never been in a better position. They’ve just had a European Cup final they could have won and the new owners have belief in him and will let him do what he wants to do. If that can start now with some new players early in the close season, Benitez will pull himself out of that pit of despair back into Utopia.

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