Liverpool chief stands by Benitez

Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow insists Rafael Benitez's job is safe even if the Reds do not win the Premier League this season.

He also says Anfield stars Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are not for sale at any price.

Purslow launched his support of Benitez as Liverpool attempted to arrest a run of four successive defeats against Manchester United this afternoon.

He said: "The most important aspect of the football club I was involved in in my first week in the job was securing Rafa for another five years. You only have to look at the Premiership era and our two major competitors in the last 10 to 12 years to see the benefits of longevity.

"Liverpool Football Club is on a long-term journey and that journey is to be the most successful club, firstly in our country and secondly in the world and you don't do that by worrying about short-term results. You do that by having long-term plans centring on the people and the strategy. Rafa Benitez is absolutely central to that plan.

"The core of the team which won 86 points last season remains intact with some excellent additions so I have every reason to believe we can perform at that level this season over the season."

To the direct question of whether he would guarantee Benitez's position was safe even if the club did not win the league he said: "Yes I would."

Purslow, who was speaking on BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme, also insisted Spanish striker Torres had no clauses in his contract which allowed him to leave Anfield if they did not qualify for the Champions League.

He said: "Fernando signed an extension to his contract this summer. He has a five-year contract. He is a crucial leader in our team. He loves Liverpool Football Club. He has been fantastic around the place. Fernando Torres and Liverpool Football Club go together and I believe they will go together for the length of his career."

To the question that he was not for sale at any price, Purslow replied: "Correct."

The same, he insisted, went for Gerrard, while he said Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano, whose future has been the subject of speculation, was also happy at the club.

Purslow said: "He is the leading central holding player in world football. It is inevitable that big clubs will covet players of that quality.

"We also had another central midfielder (Xabi Alonso) coveted by a world team in the summer who left us.

"We sat down with Javier at the time and he reasserted his total commitment to Liverpool. He has had a lot going on with the Argentina (World Cup) qualification situation which is now behind him. He is a hugely important player for us. He is a leader and this week in the aftermath of Lyon he has been a powerful figure."

Purslow also revealed Liverpool were four weeks into a process of raising new equity in the club which could take six months.

He insisted, however, that it did not mean controversial American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were prepared to sell.

Purslow said: "There has been a huge amount of interest in the club from some extremely wealthy and expert investors but it will take three to six months to pull that together.

"It means there will be new investment into the football club. Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett have no plans to sell their shares. We will be issuing new equity to new investors, broadening our ownership."

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