Rafael Benitez last night declared himself "happy" at Liverpool after his side's victory over Internazionale in the Champions League led to further speculation that he will be offered the job vacated by Roberto Mancini. The former Italian international announced immediately after the game that he would quit at the end of the season.
Mancini, 43, angrily told Italian reporters that he would leave in May but would bow out "delivering the league and the cup" – but it is the Champions League that the Inter fans want more than anything else. "I have told the boys and it's right to tell everyone," Mancini said. "It is a decision I have taken and it does not depend on the defeat tonight."
Benitez, however, deflected questions that he would be lined up as a successor. "I am happy here," said Benitez when asked by Italian reporters whether he wanted the job. "I'm pleased with the result. I don't have any idea who I want in the next round, I will be pleased to reach the final."
It was a typically understated reaction from the Liverpool manager after Mancini, who took over at Inter in July 2004, made the unprompted announcement. He won the Serie A title last season – and was given the 2006 title after the Calciopoli scandal involving Juventus – but the scale of defeat last night showed just how far behind Liverpool the Inter hierarchy must regard their club as being.
"I do not have any preference now who we play next, but I would be more than happy to face an English side in the final," Benitez said "This victory shows the power and strength of the Premier League. We have fine clubs who are amongst the best in Europe, a league that is the same and players of quality who are some of the best in Europe.
"We have a better squad than before but you never know in football. The first year  nobody thought we could win the Champions League. For me the most important thing is that the team are in the Champions League every year and perform well. As for the final, I would be pleased to play anybody.
"The two goals we scored in the first leg were crucial, and then when they had a man sent off it is always easier to play against 10 men than 11. The key for us was to be compact in the first half when they were attacking and to be sure that we hit them on the counter-attack."
Jamie Carragher said that Liverpool had once again "proved themselves". "We proved it in the last three years that we are as good as anyone in Europe," he said. Steven Gerrard said: "I don't think anyone will want to get us in the last eight."Reuse content