Yesterday, Rafa Benitez ducked the issue of whether he is under more pressure because of Liverpool owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks' multi-million pound investment.

But he conceded: "As a manager I can only think about the football. You think about the bigger picture afterwards.

"When I arrived they said it was difficult to finish in the top four and qualify for the group stages (of the Champions League) every year.

"But in the last three years we have. Now people think we must do it always. When the draw was made people said we were in an easy group and I said we weren't.

"But it's important for us to be in the last 16. It's important for the confidence and experience of our players."