'Relaxed' Rafa ready for United clash

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Rafael Benitez has shrugged off the growing pressure on his position at Liverpool and revealed the depths of the soul searching that has dominated his troubled squad.

With a crunch home clash with champions Manchester United to contend with on Sunday, it is not ideal for Liverpool to find themselves in such desperate circumstances. But Benitez and his injury-ravaged side know they must produce something to lift the gathering gloom at Anfield.

"I am relaxed in terms of my position," the Spaniard insisted. "I have been working on how to change things, how to improve. Everyone talks about pressure, pressure, pressure but we have confidence in ourselves."


Rafa talks Gerrard, Torres and Johnson pre-game 

Benitez will give Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson - all groin injury victims - until the last moment to prove their fitness.

But the match will be overshadowed by fans' unrest over the continued ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

A protest march is being planned and Hicks and Gillett will be the subject of increased security. It is not the atmosphere Benitez would want as he tries to end a run of four straight defeats, their worst spell for 22 years.

Benitez added: "I know how we are working every day, the players know too. In the past we have been very good and the situation and players has not changed too much.

"It is about confidence and winning that first game. If we want to change things we must focus on football and not what is going on off the pitch here."

But it has clearly been a tough time at the Melwood training ground this week.

Benitez added: "We have done extra training sessions, the attitude of the players has been good and you could see how focused and positive they are. They know the situation. They know what they must do and they will try to do everything we are asking of them."

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Glen Johnson
Premier League
Fernando Torres
Manchester United
Steven Gerrard

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