x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Rush: Hour to back the manager

Former Liverpool great points out that the team did well last year and the club is all about getting behind their managers; in this case it is Rafael Benitez

DUBAI // Ian Rush, the former Liverpool goalscoring great, has implored Rafa Benitez's critics to stop sniping at the manager and back him in his bid to halt the club's downward spiral. The harrowed Spaniard's position in charge has become increasingly precarious as he has struggled to arrest a decline that has seen Liverpool exit the FA Cup, Carling Cup and Champions League. After the Reds leaked a late equaliser to Stoke at the weekend, he was also forced to quash rumours of dressing room unrest. Ronnie Whelan and Graeme Souness, two players who were integral to Liverpool's glory years in the 1980s, have both called for Benitez to be removed in the past week. Souness, who has been constant in his criticism of the manager, said: "Rafa simply hasn't provided value for money for the considerable amount of money that's been spent during his watch." However, Rush believes his former club still have much to play for, and thinks Benitez should be given the chance to redeem himself.

"He still should be the manager of the club because, first of all, who is going to take his place?" asked Rush, who is in Dubai to launch the Emirates Dubai Football Sevens. "I think he should keep his job and everyone should get round him. They could still finish fourth in the league - it is important they do that - and they can still win the Uefa Cup. "They have had a dip in form, but everyone has to get behind them. It is easy to criticise the manager now, but it is about getting behind him and that is what Liverpool Football Club is about. "Look at the end of last year - they had a fantastic finish and then you think we are going to win the league this year. "You don't become a bad team overnight and we have to try and get behind the manager and the players to get that confidence back." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae