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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Jose Reina rues Rafa Benitez exit

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina says he "never would have expected" to see Rafael Benitez leave the club.

Rafa Benitez leaves Liverpool

Forum: Will you miss Rafa?
McLeish relaxed about speculation
• Benitez leaves Liverpool
• Jolly: An inevitable departure
• Manager profile: Rafael Benitez

Liverpool announced on Thursday afternoon that Benitez's six-year spell in charge of the club has come to an end and the Spaniard, who has been linked with the Inter Milan job, leaves with a reported £6 million pay-off.

Benitez won both the Champions League and FA Cup at Anfield but last season failed to secure Champions League football as the club struggled for form and only finished seventh in the table.

Reina, who was brought to the club by Benitez in the summer of 2005 and made 182 Premier League appearances under his compatriot, was clearly taken aback by Thursday's developments.

"It's a sad moment for Liverpool, for Rafa Benitez and for the players who have been with him," Reina said. "He was a very important person for the club for six years. Liverpool grew with him and Rafa also grew thanks to Liverpool.

"I hope that this crisis passes. That a person so important for the club as Rafa Benitez has left is news that you never would have expected and that you never would have believed.

"The only thing left for me is to thank him for his confidence during all this time. I wish him the best of luck."

Reina confirmed, however, that he has no intention of leaving the club having signed a long-term extension to his deal last season.

"This changes nothing," he said. "I still have a six-year contract with Liverpool."

It is believed Kenny Dalglish will lead the search for a new manager, with assistant manager Sammy Lee set to act as caretaker until a permanent appointment is made.

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