FOOTBALL : Liverpool tried desperately to put a brave face on their first Champions League exit at the group stages for six years.
Liverpool tried desperately to put a brave face on their first Champions League exit at the group stages for six years.
Chief executive Christian Purslow insisted manager Rafael Benitez’s position “is under no threat” and skipper Steven Gerrard vowed that Liverpool would win the Europa League.
Purslow made a point of doing media briefings after the game, and said: “You can never predict last-minute goals, which have cost us dear in the Champions League. That’s no basis to make managerial decisions. He is under no threat.”
He added: “We don’t run our business in that respect. I’m on the record as saying Rafa’s signed a new five-year contract, he’s four months into that contract so to discuss that is not appropriate.”
Benitez, meanwhile, claimed he was “more disappointed for the players, the staff and the fans” than for himself, but in the cold light of day they will no doubt review the 1-0 win over a poor Debrecen side – with Fiorentina securing qualification by beating Lyon by the same scoreline – as a bitter pill to swallow.
Referring to the financial damage of missing out on qualification from the group phase, Purslow added: “It’s limited actually. Assuming we have a reasonable run in the Europa League then we are financially neutral for this year.”
And after David Ngog’s early strike had secured Liverpool their win in the Ferenc Puskas stadium, Gerrard said: “Of course it’s disappointing, we played fantastically well and despite getting three points we don’t progress.
“Now we’ll be in the Europa League so we’ll try to win that. The main prize has gone and to be playing in the Europa League is disappointing but we have to accept that, move on and try to win that competition.
“The only consolation for us now is if we go on and win the secondary one.”