Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has defended the controversial comments he made about Everton at the weekend by insisting his 'small team' jibe was made in defence of his own side.
Benitez's comments caused a storm on Merseyside following Saturday's goalless derby draw at Anfield.
After the stalemate which saw the Reds lose pace with Manchester United and Chelsea at the top of the table, he said: "Playing against a small team it is not always easy when they have nine men behind the ball."
However, the Spaniard claims that, although the comments were made out of frustration, they were not meant to upset the Reds' cross-city rivals, who have since released a statement condemning Benitez's reaction.
"It's easy for me to explain what I've said," he told the Liverpool Echo.
"I've read lots of comments from Bill Shankly over the years where he's made comments which compared Liverpool as a club to other teams. I've done it on this occasion.
"I'm the manager of Liverpool and I was simply comparing our club to most other clubs who come to Anfield.
"We are in a position where we are trying to compete with Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, while for other teams and managers that's more difficult.
"The top four are considered the biggest clubs in the Premiership, and even managers from other teams accept it's different for them when they play against the bigger teams. That's what I was saying.
"We have been on a good run and it's always a pity when you don't win at home, particularly against your local rivals."