Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: We'll Ignore All the Fuss, Says Steven; Reds Alert to Euro Danger

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: We'll Ignore All the Fuss, Says Steven; Reds Alert to Euro Danger

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Walker

LIVERPOOL'S players have vowed not to allow the crisis over manager Rafael Benitez's future to distract them from trying to stay in the Champions League.

The row between Benitez and the club's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett over future transfers has cast a cloud of uncertainty over tonight's clash against Porto at Anfield.

Liverpool must win their final two group matches against Porto and Marseille to be certain of qualifying for the last 16.

Captain Steven Gerrard said: "It is important we keep our focus. We realise there is stuff going on behind the scenes but as players you have to blank that out. We are judged on results.

"It is vital we do not get distracted by what is going on off the pitch, we must keep on winning. The Porto match is crucial so we must take our current good form into it and make sure we perform on the night."

Gerrard has no problem if Benitez wears a tracksuit in the dug-out, the Spaniard having pointedly worn one at Newcastle on Saturday after being told by the American owners to "concentrate on coaching and training the team."

Gerrard added: "The manager is usually in a suit, it's not like him, but he can keep wearing the tracksuit at away games if we keep getting the results like we did at Newcastle."

Goalkeeper Jose Reina also wants to concentrate on football and not the on-going crisis. He said: "We have not been affected at all by what has been going on, it is not easy and not nice but all we can do is play football and show how good or bad we are on the pitch."

Benitez refused to discuss his war with Liverpool's American owners as he concentrated on making sure the Anfield club stay in the Champions League. He said: "As manager of Liverpool I know that the match against Porto is the most important thing, so I do not want to talk about anything else.

"I am sure we will win and play well, then I will be thinking about the tell. There are even suggestions that the pair's own relationship is not good, but that they are united in a desire to eventually end Benitez's reign at the club. …

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