Benitez 'manipulates' Liverpool fans claims Redknapp

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The Independent Football

Former Liverpool star Jamie Redknapp has questioned Rafael Benitez's management and claims that he manipulates the club's fans.

On the eve of Liverpool's crunch Champions League showdown in Hungary against Debrecen - where they could fail to reach the last 16 for the first time under Benitez - Redknapp offered a wide-ranging criticism of the Anfield boss.

Redknapp believes Benitez should abandon the controversial zonal marking system and questioned whether Fernando Torres will want to stay if Liverpool are only in the Europa League next season.

Redknapp, who played more than 300 games for the club between 1991 and 2002, said: "They have won one in 10 now and fans will be thinking.

"They are firmly behind him, though, he manipulates the fans, he gets them how he wants them.

"But there comes a time, if they go out of Europe this week and then lose at Everton, that the fans are swayed and will say that we have to look at him now.

"That team is not really going anywhere. The problem you will get is that will Fernando Torres want to play in the Europa League? I don't think so.

"If they don't get into the top four at the end of this season, it will be a major problem.

"You have huge problems going on behind the scenes with the owners, but it is too easy to blame that. On the pitch the players are not playing well enough, that's a fact."

On Liverpool's defensive problems, Redknapp was equally damning.

He added on Sky Sports: "A few years ago zonal marking was the best format because they were one of the best defenders from set pieces.

"But the reason for that was that they had Peter Crouch and Sami Hyypia, two guys who are 6ft 5in plus.

"It doesn't matter how you defend when the ball comes in, zonal or man to man, they will clear it. Now you have a situation where people are not taking responsibility.

"You might have to turn round and say that zonal isn't working, let's go man for man. At the moment he is giving players excuses, teams look at it and think they will score against Liverpool."