Defiant Benitez doesn't fear Liverpool axe

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes his job is secure as he prepares for a do or die clash against Manchester United on Sunday.

The Reds are on their worst run for 22 years after losing their last four matches and defeat to United at Anfield would leave them 10 points behind the Premier League leaders.

Some sections of the Anfield crowd jeered Benitez during Liverpool's 2-1 loss to Lyon in the Champions League on Tuesday and the Spaniard is under more pressure than at any time during his five-year reign.

But the former Valencia coach, who could be without injured stars Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson against United, has no fears that Liverpool owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks will sack him.

Hicks and Gillett are far more unpopular with the fans than Benitez and a protest march against the Americans is planned for before the United clash.

"I am relaxed in terms of my position," Benitez said on Friday.

"I know how we are working every day, the players know too. In the past we have been very good and the situation and players has not changed too much.

"It is about confidence and winning that first game. If we want to change things we must focus on football and not what is going on off the pitch here."

If Liverpool, currently eighth in the table, lose on Sunday it will be their worst run since the club was relegated from the old First Division in 1953.

But Benitez admits he has been working overtime at the club's Melwood training ground to get his team back on track and he expects a positive response against United.

"We have done extra training sessions, the attitude of the players has been good and you could see how focused and positive they are," he said.

"They know the situation. They know what they must do and they will try to do everything we are asking of them.

"I have had great support from Steven (Gerrard). He is a leader, he wanted to prove something in the week against Lyon, he wanted to play despite the injury problem. That shows the right mentality and what we expect from any player at Liverpool.

"The team is not as bad as people think. We have beaten United without Gerrard and Torres and we know that we can beat anyone. We have total confidence in that.

"I have been working on how to change things, how to improve. Everyone talks about pressure, pressure, pressure but we have confidence in ourselves.

"You do not see players happy when they are not winning games but you must see the responsibility in their faces.

"I have talked with them, the most important players, and I have been impressed with their positive attitude.

"When you are not winning, you cannot be too negative with players. When I push the players it is when I know that we can improve and they are already doing well. When we are not doing well we have to analyse carefully and not to push too hard."