Benitez admits Liverpool's top-four challenge is over
Published 23:00 11/04/10 By David Maddock
Rafa Benitez has conceded any hope of fourth place after another desperately disappointing display.
The Liverpool manager threw in the towel at Anfield yesterday following a dull goalless draw that again highlighted the shocking inconsistency of the Reds.
The Reds now lie six points behind Manchester City, who have played a game less, and the Spanish coach accepts the prospects of overhauling them are remote.
A clearly dejected Benitez even declared that the Europa League is now Liverpool’s priority, after another failure.
“I think we have to be realistic, it will be very difficult now to get fourth,” he said. “Yes, the Europa League is the priority, we will try to win all our games and aim for the top four, but clearly that will be very hard now, and we have to prepare properly for the semi-final instead.
“A six-point gap is maybe too much, especially with their (Man City’s) game in hand, and it will be very difficult. We know it now.
“We will keep going, keep trying to the end, but we know it is out of our hands and it will be very hard.”
Liverpool created disappointingly little against an impressively organised Fulham side, and without the injured Fernando Torres they simply carried no threat.
The striker suffered a knee injury early in the Europa League game against Benfica, and while it is not thought to be too serious, Benitez decided not to risk him yesterday.
The Reds boss felt that the game turned on a decision by ref Andre Marriner not to book Jonathan Greening a second time, after the winger cynically hauled back Glen Johnson.
“It was quite clear that Greening should have gone off, but I prefer not to talk too much about this,” he said.