Benitez defiant after cup upset

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The Independent Football

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has vowed to battle on as manager to save the club's shattered season.

The Reds sank to a new low in a disastrous campaign when they lost their FA Cup third-round replay to Reading at Anfield on Wednesday night.

Again Benitez faced calls for him to go, but the Spaniard insists he has no intention of leaving and aims to put things right on the pitch.

He said: "A lot of people are talking about me, but I have to look forward and keep working hard.

"All I can do is to try to do my best every day, every match. That is all anyone can do.

"Right from the beginning of the season there have been problems, (privately) we feared it could be like that.

"But the only option is to carry on, to do your best to change things around.

"In any race you have to try to move forward as quickly as possible.

"I accept that the season has become bad, certainly not the best. There have been too many bad moments.

"We can only carry on and be ready for the next game. All we can say is that we must focus on the next challenge."

Benitez complained after the Reading defeat of "things that happened I did not like" but declined to criticise referee Phil Dowd, who gave Reading a debatable penalty in injury time which forced the match into extra-time.

But the Spaniard was believed to have been upset by the physical challenges aimed at his star players Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun.

Torres was flattened in the first few seconds by Matthew Mills, in what could have been an early booking but Dowd only warned the player. Mills was eventually booked for a 44th-minute foul on Benayoun, that it is felt resulted in the midfielder breaking a rib.

Torres never recovered from Mills' challenge and limped away after 29 minutes with a twisted ankle, while Gerrard was caught early on by a bad challenge from Gylfi Sigurdsson, eventually failing to come out for the second period with a hamstring strain.

Benitez said: "We cannot change the result, we must move forward. We have to think only about the future.

"We do not rely on Gerrard and Torres too much, they are very important for us, but we have other players who can perform, score goals and win matches for us.

"We know we can improve. Sometimes we just do not play to our level, but sometimes we do. We just have to keep working, keep trying to get things right."

He added: "The fans were giving the team everything, supporting them well, but we couldn't give them what they wanted.

"Was it our own failings or the things I didn't like that were going on? It was a lot of things all together that caused the defeat.

"We played with a strong team, but sometimes you do not play well and your opponents do play well.

"For three months everyone has been talking about me, it is nothing new. It does not matter whether I play a strong team or not, but in the end all you can do is move forward and try to do your job the best way possible."