Defiant Benitez vows to continue despite Cup shock

Rafael Benitez on Thursday shrugged off the increasing pressure surrounding his position as Liverpool manager in the wake of the club’s embarrassing exit from the FA Cup.

Benitez, in charge at Anfield since 2004, was booed along with his players as they were knocked out of the competition after suffering a 2-1 extra-time home defeat at the hands of Championship strugglers Reading on Wednesday.

The result is a serious blow to Benitez’s hopes of ending Liverpool’s four-year wait for a trophy and means the Spaniard must win the second tier European club competition Europa League if he is to secure the club’s first piece of major silverware since the 2006 FA Cup triumph against West Ham United.

“It is really bad. Everyone wanted to progress but we can’t so we are disappointed,” said 49-year-old Benitez after the third round replay defeat.

“Reading worked very hard, but there were a lot of things I did not like. We had chances, they had chances. They were doing well but we might have won too. The chances they created worried me but we had some too.

“In the second half we had more control but after we made a lot of mistakes.

“We know the FA Cup is a massive competition and we wanted to progress. At this moment we are really disappointed, for the fans who came to support the team. We tried to win from the beginning.”

Benitez was already under pressure before this game after the team’s Champions League exit and their faltering Premier League campaign which sees them 12 points behind leaders Chelsea in the title race.

But losing to Reading has again put his position back in the spotlight ahead of Saturday’s tricky away game at Stoke City.

However, Benitez insists he can handle the criticism.

“For three months everyone was talking about me. At the end, as a manager you have to be disappointed but then move forward and think about Stoke on Saturday,” he added.

“We are frustrated but you have to carry on. Everyone is disappointed. We have to prepare for Saturday’s game because it will be difficult.”

As if Benitez did not have enough problems, his two best players Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are both major doubts for the weekend.

Torres limped off in the first half with a twisted knee while Gerrard has a hamstring problem. Both will undergo scans on Thursday.

“We’ll see what the doctors say,” said Benitez, who completed the signing of Argentine winger Maxi Rodriguez from Atletico Madrid earlier Wednesday.

Reading caretaker manager Brian McDermott insisted his side deserved the victory.

“We played some really good stuff,” he said. “We did the right thing, played in the right way.

“Liverpool’s goal could have hurt us but we responded well. I’m chuffed for everybody. To come here and win is terrific.”

On Wednesday, Liverpool were ahead after an own goal by Ryan Bertrand but were stunned by a stoppage time penalty leveller by Gylfi Sigurdsson which sent the tie into extra time.

Substitute Shane Long then headed a 100th minute winner for Reading. — AFP

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Art imitates life at the National Arts Festival

This year’s National Arts Festival in Makhanda - the first live one since the pandemic - tackles unemployment, the Marikana Massacre and the manner in which black women in society are written about

Pride is a heavy price to pay

While constitutionally protected, the LGBTQIA+ community is being failed by the state

Africa’s Covid neglect poses global danger

Low vaccination levels and high number of health-compromised populations make the continent a ‘breeding ground for variants’ that pose a global risk

Kenya opposition leader selects woman as running mate

For the first time a woman is running on a major presidential ticket – a big marker in Kenya’s history. But for marginalised voters, the politics of representation comes with many contradictions
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×