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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 20, 2009

Liverpool assistant Lee: Benitez is not arrogant

Liverpool assistant manager Sammy Lee denies there is an arrogance surrounding Rafael Benitez or the club, after the Spaniard came under fire from Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce and Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who accused him of being disrespectful and full of contempt.

The comments were sparked by a gesture made by Benitez when his side scored the second of their four goals against Rovers at Anfield the previous Saturday.

Allardyce said it was a humiliating gesture that ''typifies the man'', while Ferguson waded into the row by describing the signal as an unforgivable show of contempt.

Benitez was not present to defend himself at the club's press conference ahead of Tuesday's Premier League clash at home to Arsenal but Lee give his boss his full backing.

''One thing I will say is Rafa is certainly not arrogant,'' said the former Reds midfielder. ''I think it is quite sad really. We only get on with the job we have to do, we try not to consider what other people are thinking or saying about us.

''We are a humble football club, we have a healthy respect for everyone and the job in hand and, having that respect, win, lose or draw we have humility about ourselves.

''When we get out on that park we only try to affect what we can, which is our team. Any gestures made pitchside are made to our players, not to anyone else. If anyone sees anything in any gestures they are mistaken.

"It [the incident] was a reaction to what we thought we should have been doing (from the free-kick), but something else was done and it resulted in a goal. We only consider what we want our players to do. We don't make any gesture to anyone else at all."

Lee, who was Allardyce's assistant manager for a spell at the Reebok, felt the current Blackburn boss should have voiced his concerns at the time if he felt there was an issue.

''I'm surprised Sam, if he felt that strongly about it, didn't mention it to me when we were sat having a drink after the game,'' he added. ''We have a close relationship but I can't speak for what other people read into things. Whatever other people do is entirely up to them.

''We know what we want out of football and it is not for us to talk about other football clubs. This is Liverpool Football Club and when people are successful others will always want to knock you down.''

Lee dismissed the effect Ferguson's mind games would have on a Liverpool side who will go top of the Premier League with a point against Arsenal.

''It goes over my head to be honest. I think football is quite a simple game, people seem to be trying to complicate things and put their little slant on it,'' he said. ''Thankfully it does go over my head because there is enough to worry about in football without all this.''

Liverpool realistically have to win against Arsenal to keep their title hopes on track as United currently lead by a point with a match in hand.

Arsenal were losing FA Cup semi-finalists on Saturday and are in the last four of the Champions League, so Lee said Liverpool could not underestimate them.

''We have a healthy respect for Arsenal and we know it is going to be a very difficult game,'' he added. ''For me each and every game has its own degree of difficulty. It is always nice when you know what you have got to do but we go out and prepare to win every game.

''If that sounds like arrogance I want that to stop that there. We don't prepare for failure, we know what we have to get out of each game - none more so than in these last six games.

''We can't look at what anyone else is doing or for anyone to do us favours, we have to do our own job.''

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