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Benitez expects Anfield exit January 06 2008

Benitez expects Anfield exit January 06 2008

Rafa Benitez reportedly believes he will be sacked by Liverpool at the end of the season - and Jose Mourinho is poised to replace him at Anfield.

While previous reports of Benitez's imminent demise have proved premature, the Sunday papers are united in their belief that the Spaniard is preparing to leave England after his spat with Liverpool's American owners proved terminal.

According to The Sunday People, 'Benitez will finally join Real Madrid in the summer - at the third time of asking. Benitez believes he is a dead man walking at Anfield following his war with the Kop's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.'

And a 'close friend' of Benitez is quoted as saying in the News of the World: "Rafa wants to stay but now he believes he will be sacked because the owners have not shown they will back him."

Should he depart, Benitez will not be short of alternative employment. Real Madrid are said to be keen on recruiting him, while the People claims that 'Top Italian sides Inter and AC Milan are hot on the Spaniard's heels, with Bayern Munich also massively impressed by the former Valencia chief'.

Martin O'Neill and Jurgen Klinsmann would most probably be installed as the favourites to move into the Anfield hot seat but, in an intriguing twist, The Observer leads with the claim that 'Jose Mourinho is growing increasingly restless in his search for a return to management and is monitoring the position of Rafa Benitez at Liverpool.'

Out of work since his dismissal by Chelsea in September, Mourinho has apparently become disenchanted with his prospects of returning to management with either Barcelona, Real Madrid or AC Milan.

According to The Observer, 'There has been no approach to Mourinho by the Americans, but Hicks and Gillett are understood to be actively considering replacement managers and are well aware of the abilities of the Portuguese, who discussed becoming Liverpool manager before joining Chelsea in 2004. Asked last night to comment on the pair's interest in employing Mourinho, Hicks declined.

'Mourinho's family were keen to live in London again when he was considering becoming England coach, although they do not hold the same enthusiasm about the wetter, colder and (in their view) less cosmopolitan North-West. 'Liverpool is not the same as London,' said a friend. 'But Liverpool is a big club and Jose loves English football. For now we have to wait.''

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