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Wasteful United frustrate LVG

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Christian Purslow attempts to quell talk of Anfield crisis

With pundits predicting impending doom for Rafael Benitez and Liverpool should they lose a fifth consecutive game on Sunday against Manchester United, chief executive Christian Purslow has voiced his support for the under-fire manager and dismissed suggestions of a possible exodus at Anfield.

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A shocking run of four consecutive defeats in all competitions has ensured that the focus is very much on Benitez ahead of the visit of Liverpool's great rivals to Anfield. A fifth defeat in ten league games would surely spell the end of their title challenge and leave the path clear for United to become the first side to collect 19 league trophies.

Murmurings of supporter discontent have been detected and Benitez's record as Liverpool manager has been heavily scrutinised in the national press in the wake of the defeat to Lyon in midweek. Some have even speculated that Benitez could be heading for the exit door should he suffer a fifth defeat in a row but Purslow is adamant he is fully supportive of the manager.

"The most important aspect of the football club I was involved in in my first week in the job was securing Rafa for another five years. You only have to look at the Premiership era and our two major competitors in the last 10 to 12 years to see the benefits of longevity," Purslow told Five Live.

"Liverpool Football Club is on a long-term journey and that journey is to be the most successful club, firstly in our country and secondly in the world and you don't do that by worrying about short-term results. You do that by having long-term plans centring on the people and the strategy. Rafa Benitez is absolutely central to that plan.

"The core of the team which won 86 points last season remains intact with some excellent additions so I have every reason to believe we can perform at that level this season over the season.''

When asked the direct question of whether he would guarantee Benitez's position was safe even if the club did not win the league, Purslow responded: "Yes I would.''

Quite aside from their failing title challenge, there are fears that Liverpool's struggles will see them cede a Champions League place to upwardly-mobile Manchester City, denying them extensive funds at a time when the financial health of the club has been under the spotlight.

Purslow is adamant that key players such as Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano will not be leaving the club if the Anfield malaise continues though, despite some reports to the contrary in recent days.

"Fernando signed an extension to his contract this summer," Purslow said. "He has a five-year contract. He is a crucial leader in our team. He loves Liverpool Football Club. He has been fantastic around the place. Fernando Torres and Liverpool Football Club go together and I believe they will go together for the length of his career.

"He [Mascherano] is the leading central holding player in world football. It is inevitable that big clubs will covet players of that quality. We also had another central midfielder [Xabi Alonso[ coveted by a world team in the summer who left us.

"We sat down with Javier at the time and he reasserted his total commitment to Liverpool. He has had a lot going on with the Argentina [World Cup] qualification situation which is now behind him. He is a hugely important player for us. He is a leader and this week in the aftermath of Lyon he has been a powerful figure."

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