Benitez refuses to give a straight answer after letting 'speculation' run

Rafael Benitez would give Liverpool fans no assurances last night that he would still be at the club next season as the saga over the manager's future descended into farce at Anfield yesterday.

Benitez walked out of an interview with Sky Sports and then refused to confirm that he would be at Liverpool next season despite being asked Jeremy Paxman-style on six different occasions to end the uncertainty over his future in his post-match press conference.

Benitez kept referring to the reports that he will join Juventus this summer as "speculation" despite the fact that it was him who keeps making public his rift with the club's hierarchy. The Liverpool manager did at least confirm that he will speak to the club's new chairman Martin Broughton this week for the first time.

Benitez said: "I have four years left on my contract and I still have to talk with the new chairman. Nothing is clear cut, we have to wait. It is not just for me to ask one or two questions. If we have a conversation we will try to keep it private. It is just to talk about the future. You are asking about my future, but the future of the club is more important."

The 2-0 defeat to Chelsea was Liverpool's 11th defeat in the Premier League and set the scene for a miserable post-match lap round the pitch by players, staff and some of their children. For the absentee American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks there was nothing but scorn; for Benitez there was neither overwhelming support or condemnation.

Later Benitez acknowledged that Liverpool, now seventh and out the running for the Champions League places, had failed to fulfill expectations after their second-place finish last season.

He said: "It's clear it hasn't been the best season. Everyone was expecting us to be at the top, but we've had too many problems. We were in the semi-final of the Europa League on Thursday, and then played [yesterday] in a difficult game. Always the manager has taken responsibility for everything in the last three years. [The game against Chelsea] was similar to lots of game when we have had problems."

If the £16m, four-year deal from Juventus's new president Andrea Agnelli is to materialise then Benitez will have to weigh up the options of managing a side who, like Liverpool, will not be competing in the Champions League next season. Juventus' draw with Catania yesterday means that they cannot catch Sampdoria in fourth place in Serie A.

Having lit the fuse last week by admitting that the Liverpool hierarchy had made no effort to speak to him about his future – principally because they would not stand in his way if he went to Juventus – Benitez yesterday employed his familiar tactic of professing surprise at the ensuing storm he has caused.

He said: "I've heard all the speculation over the last two or three weeks and read a lot of news about a lot of things, but at the moment we have another game to play. I have four more years on my contract so I will not talk too much at the moment.

"We have to be disappointed that we haven't won because we cannot be as close as we want to be to the top four. I will prepare for the next game [against Hull on Sunday] and then start thinking of things for the future. I have read a lot of things in the past."

In accepting that it was the manager's responsibility "for everything in the last three years" there was the suggestion that Benitez was being ironic and referring to the damage that Hicks and Gillett's years in charge have caused. His meeting with Broughton will be crucial to how quickly events move, but it is evident that a decision will have to be made on Benitez's future soon.

Who might replace Rafa?

Martin O'Neill

Said the Liverpool position would probably appeal. But the Aston Villa manager's defensive outlook will raise questions.

Roy Hodgson

With rumours that Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard favour an English manager, Hodgson's achievements at Fulham make him another contender.

Mark Hughes

The Manchester United connection may prove to be a deal-breaker but the prospect might intrigue Hughes.

Jose Mourinho

Has asked his representatives to canvas offers and Real Madrid seems the strongest possibility. A financially uncertain Liverpool look like a poorer option.

Kenny Dalglish

Is very close to the club's managing director Christian Purslow. But it is 12 years since he was sacked by Newcastle.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave 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
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
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.

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