COMMENT: Rafa Benitez facing meltdown as mist descends on Liverpool FC
RAFA BENITEZ is no fan of international breaks but this one may have come at just the right time. The next 11 days provide an opportunity for the Liverpool boss to take stock away from the spotlight and plot his side's route out of an alarming slump. A campaign already in serious danger of meltdown took another turn for the worse against Birmingham City. The mist descended at Anfield last night but there was no hiding his side's deficiencies. Benitez has ridden out many storms during his Anfield tenure but this is without doubt the fiercest. The Spaniard needs to find solutions to a seemingly ever-growing list of problems. Some of those weaknesses can be corrected by hard work on the training ground - like his side's inability to make their dominance in games count and their glaring defensive frailties. For others, Benitez will look to the Melwood medical team to weave some magic as he battles with the worst injury crisis of his managerial career. Yossi Benayoun and Albert Riera were the latest victims to head for the treatment table after pulling up lame with hamstring problems last night. News that Daniel Agger aggravated a back problem and Fernando Torres was nowhere near fit enough to face Birmingham, dampened the sombre mood still further. Viruses, injuries, beach balls and dodgy red cards - Benitez must truly feel the fates have conspired against him in recent months. The result is a miserable sequence of just one win in nine games. Liverpool not only need a miracle to progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League, but they now face a battle to play any part at all in next season's competition. Forget the title. With Chelsea now 11 points clear of the Reds, Carlo Ancelotti's side have disappeared over the horizon.
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