Skrtel: It was time for Benitez to leave

Martin Skrtel has become the first Liverpool player to speak publicly about what he has called the "sacking" of Rafael Benitez as manager, declaring that the players had expected him to part company with the club after their disappointing Premier League season.

Skrtel, one of the few established names in the Slovakia side who were stunned by New Zealand's 93rd-minute equaliser in Rustenburg on Tuesday, revealed that Benitez texted each of his players individually, in Skrtel's case thanking him for his contribution and wishing him the best for the future. "I texted him back to say 'thank you boss and good luck for you'," said Skrtel. But he accepts that the Liverpool board wanted Benitez out and views the £6m compensation deal as a dismissal, rather than a compromise arrangement.

"The management needed to make some changes and they sacked Rafa, and what can we do?" the 25-year-old said. "Nothing. We are only players and we have to wait for the new management."

Skrtel is unsure whether Benitez's departure – with Roy Hodgson, who has been contacted by Liverpool, the favourite to replace him – will spark an exodus. "I don't know. Rafa brought me to the club and I'm glad about that and I thank him for that. Now we have to wait for the new management. We will try to do better than this season."

First, there is the issue of today's encounter with Paraguay, buoyed by the draw with Italy and aware that just a point against Vladimir Weiss's side could see them in striking distance of a last-16 game, possibly against Holland.

Weiss, who has described the draw against the Kiwis as a "national disaster", kept journalists behind barbed wire at their training base to avoid any distractions – in contrast to the animated conversations with the press he held before the New Zealand game.

Slovakia's contributions to mankind's development include the first operational parachute and the manager's son and namesake, one of the two stand-out players against the All Whites, will be instrumental as the team try to avoid dropping out at the first stage in their first finals.

"It's the worst thing that can happen to you: conceding in the last second of a game," said Weiss Jnr. "For all of us it's something very sad but we've got to keep our heads up.

"It's the first time in the finals and for a little country like Slovakia that's something special. I just hope we'll do better than just the group."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own