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Deadly Defoe saves Sunderland

Sunderland
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By ESPN Staff

Aldo: Rafa is missing former assistant Paco

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge claims the famous Anfield club has 'imploded' recently and believes the departure of Rafael Benitez's assistant this season is a major factor in the team's plight. Benitez's side crashed out of the FA Cup courtesy of Barnsley's injury-time winner at Anfield yesterday. With their Barclays Premier League campaign now confined to a race for fourth place, that leaves them with just the Champions League to contest, with the first leg of their last-16 tie with Inter Milan taking place this week. And highly-decorated former striker Aldridge admits ongoing confusion off the field is adding to problems on the pitch. 'It's not going too well on and off the field at the moment,' he told Setanta Sports News. 'The club's imploded over the past couple of months and it can only get better. 'A lot of people are getting the wrong idea of what's happening. You can look back to when Paco Ayesteran went a couple of months ago, Rafa's right-hand man, I think that's got a massive bearing on it. 'He's holding the fort on his own without a right-hand man. He's working very hard on his own and under very difficult circumstances and I think he needs a bit of help right now.' As for matters upstairs, Aldridge added: 'There's so much speculation going on off the park regarding the American owners (George Gillett and Tom Hicks) that we don't know who's going to be the chairman next month. 'If anyone did want Rafa to go then who could sack him at the moment? He's between parties, the old chairman David Moores hasn't got a say in the matter. There's no board at the moment, no-one knows where the club's going at the present time.'