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David Fairclough: Liverpool FC have to stick with Rafa Benitez
Liverpool are facing the prospect of their worst run of results since the Bill Shankly era started 50 years ago - but under-fire boss Rafael Benitez has received backing from an Anfield legend.
Benitez is battling to overcome a horror injury list ahead of the make-or-break Champions League showdown in Lyon on Wednesday.
A loss there would mean seven defeats in eight games after Saturday’s 3-1 setback at Fulham, when star striker Fernando Torres - himself struggling for fitness - was substituted at 1-1.
The Anfield club have never experienced such a run since Shankly was appointed, the 50-year anniversary of the charismatic Scot’s arrival in 1959 being December 1.
Former Anfield hero David Fairclough has supported Benitez, and said: “The club is moving in a certain direction, and this season it has been totally in Benitez’s hands.
“So to sack the manager, or even think of sacking the manager, is only going to throw Liverpool backwards.
“We are going to have to stick with him and hope that we turn things around.”
He added: “I know some fans who were disappointed when Rafa took off Torres at Fulham, but the lad clearly wasn’t fully fit.
“Liverpool have been hit by injuries and illness, and clearly had there been any more injuries or problems late on in the game, it would not have been helpful for the team plan for Wednesday night.
“But I can see Liverpool getting the result they need in Lyon. When you are talking about a dozen or more players not being available, I believe things will look a lot different come kick-off in Lyon.
“That situation will be turned around a bit, people will be fit by them, I’m sure.
“They go there knowing exactly what they have to do, and I believe Liverpool can win in Lyon. They have had situations like this before, and have produced the right results so they are more than capable of doing it again.”
Benitez is facing a nightmare injury list which, apart from Torres and Steven Gerrard (both groin), sees Glen Johnson, Fabio Aurelio (both calf), Daniel Agger (back), Martin Kelly (ankle), Albert Riera (hamstring) and Andrea Dossena (groin) all struggling.
Additionally, Philipp Degen - red-carded at Fulham - was not named in the club’s Champions League squad.
Liverpool also have four players - Alberto Aquilani, Martin Skrtel, David Ngog and Diego Cavalieri - suffering from a virus, although Benitez says: “It is not swine flu, we haven’t got that here.”
Benitez’s own tenure as manager is now under close scrutiny inside and outside the club.
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