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By ESPN Staff

Lawrenson: Benitez in 'precarious position'

Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson believes current manager Rafael Benitez is in a 'precarious position' at Anfield.

The Spaniard has become embroiled in a face-off with club owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett over their unwillingness to sanction transfer activity before they arrive on Merseyside for the clash with bitter rivals Manchester United on December 16.

After hinting at the row in his pre-match press conferences last week, Benitez confirmed that he was upset at the situation after Saturday's win at Newcastle when he claimed the Americans 'don't understand' the need for quick action to avoid disappointment in the January transfer window.

In response, Hicks and Gillett issued a statement last night when they reiterated their determination to stand firm.

While Lawrenson - who played more than 250 games for the Reds in the 1980s - understands both sides of the debate, he believes Benitez's position could come under threat if results over the next few weeks do not go his way.

With qualification for the lucrative knockout stages of the Champions League in jeopardy ahead of Wednesday's clash with Porto, and Liverpool only fifth in the Barclays Premier League, Lawrenson believes the owners could be swayed by what happens on the pitch.

'If they did lose to Porto, and then Manchester United come and win at Anfield like they did last season, then all of a sudden they would look at the Premier League and think with all the money they spent in the summer they're not getting a return,' he told BBC Radio Five Live.

'It's a very precarious position at the moment.'

Lawrenson does not, however, think Benitez's job is under immediate threat.

'I don't think there's a great problem, he's trying to say `look guys, you don't really understand the situation here', which is a difficult thing to say to the two owners,' he said.

'I think if they win on Wednesday it will all be well, but he's saying you're not here until the 16th of December, the Manchester United game, and he's saying it's too late, they need to get something in place. You can understand both sides of the situation.

'They've bought a club in England and they have to operate in such a way that they can get the best players.'