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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

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Dec 15, 2009

Rafa Benitez guarantees top four finish for Reds

Manager Rafael Benitez will continue to shoulder the burden of criticism for his faltering Liverpool team and is prepared to ''guarantee'' that the club will finish in the top four this season as he believes only minor changes need to be made.

The Spaniard insists the critics will not force him to deviate from his beliefs.

''I think it is very important for any manager, but especially here in England, to be strong,'' he said. ''You have to show you have an idea, you have your own people that you can talk with and analyse things and say 'This is the way to do things' and we have to keep going.

''The main thing for me is to come here early in the morning, do my job, go home still working a little bit and try to be ready for the next day. That is the way to do things and that is an example for the players - and they are doing the same thing.

''For five years I think we were doing well so we have to keep going in the same way because the club is stronger now in everything: the squad, the value of the club is better than five years ago.

''Yes it is a bad moment but I still think we can improve. You cannot be negative. You have to think about the positives. The manager has to be positive and I am positive.''

Liverpool face Wigan at home on Wednesday knowing only a victory - they have won just three of the last 15 matches - will stop the pressure reaching unbearable levels.

''Every game for us is a game we have to win. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can't,'' said the Spaniard. ''Everything can be improved and if we make mistakes we keep going. There are still 22 games to play so we know we have to change our target.

''Now it is to get three points against Wigan and then start thinking about Portsmouth (at the weekend). I have to have confidence in my team and I am sure we can do it because I know we are better than the team you are seeing on the pitch. I can guarantee we will finish in the top four.''

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