Benitez battles on Liverpool brink

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A defiant Rafael Benitez vowed to fight on as Liverpool manager despite the club's season hitting a new low this week.

His team crashed out of the FA Cup in a third-round replay at home to Coca-Cola Championship side Reading on Wednesday to increase even more pressure on the Spaniard ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash at Stoke.

"If I am worried about my position or the future of the club at this moment I will lose my focus." said Benitez. "Stoke is the most important game now and we have to prepare properly. I cannot be worried about the other things. My future is Stoke now."

Liverpool's faltering season has already seen them exit the Champions League at the group stage - the first time that has happened since Benitez took over, drop out of the Premier League title fall behind in the race and fall behind in the running for a top-four place.

Co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are not minded to make a change of manager midway through the season and in the wake of the Reading defeat club sources have stressed Benitez's job is safe.

"We are not playing well and everyone here feels sorry for our fans," added Benitez. "This is a bad moment, we are not doing well during the season and we know have to improve and we have the belief we can do it.

"How can we improve? Winning on the pitch. How can we be sure we win on the pitch? By training well.

Benitez last season signed a new long-term deal worth anything between £3million and £4million a year and he is determined to get through Liverpool's recent difficulties.

"It is true I like to do my best every time. If I decided to stay here and signed a five-year contract it is because I wanted to fight," he added.

"Things are not going well, we know, but if I waste my time talking about all these things (speculation about his future) all the time I will lose my focus and it will be worse and worse."

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