Clock's Ticking for Benitez

Just 8 games into the season and we have a favourite in the big 4 manager sack race. Liverpool have had a bad start to the campaign if not the worst to say the least. If it wasn't for last year's performance in the league the fan expectations wouldn't have sky-rocketed this tenure.

However 14 points of 18 against the big 4 and just 2 defeats in the league last term has caused an uneven stir within the Anfield faithful after Liverpool dropped precious points against Tottenham, Aston Villa and Chelsea.

Liverpool co-owner George Gillett has launched a new attack on the Spaniard by saying that Benitez is responsible for the lack-lustre performances rather than the owners or excuses for lack of funds during the transfer season.

"We have invested more money than our competitors, in keeping with the history of the club," Gillett is quoted as telling a representative of the fans' group Spirit of Shankly prior to Liverpool's 6-1 win over Hull last week.

"In the last 18 months, we have invested £128m on top of what has come in. That means it should be getting better.

"Now if it's not getting better, it's not Gillett and Hicks, it's the manager, it's the scouting. You have to make sure you balance out your analysis.

"There was plenty of money, so if you have any complaints, take a look at the ins and outs."

Gillett also added that the £30million fee recouped from Xabi Alonso's move to Real Madrid "went straight back" into the club's transfer budget, which was already set at "£22-23m as part of our budgets".

Gillett added: "The club is in extraordinarily good financial condition. Far better than Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal.

"We have invested massively, we have put more money in than anyone other than Manchester City with the craziness they have got."

Benitez has arguably a month to save his Liverpool career - a month of hell. His first task would be gaining nothing less than 3 points at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland - a renewed team under Steve Bruce who have had a bright start to the season.

Next they have a Champions League tie against Lyon at Anfield - which if they fail to win will make the trip to France into a must win situation. The following weekend Liverpool face Champions Manchester United! And wait - the fixture pain doesn't end there - they face Arsenal at the Emirates in a League Cup tie at the end of October. Arsene Wenger will surely field his youth side to give them a run-out. However a defeat here and there and critics will be ready to pounce.

Another problem which clearly stands out is that Liverpool have missed Xabi Alonso - without a doubt! He was the one controlling midfield and setting up majority of the play - a feat which allowed Torres and especially Gerrard the freedom to roam upfront. Lucas - has performed quite well but the problem stands out that he can't fill in the void left by Alonso nor does he possess an ounce of creativity that is required to break tough defences. Long awaited debut of £20m summer signing Alberto Aquilani may be expected to make a appearance at the Stadium Of Light. He hasn't played football for over 6 months - so he will have to be cautiously used and will make the bench.

Benitez has 4 crucial games to save his Anfield career. The international break has come at the perfect time for Benitez and his men - so that he can calm down, regroup and start afresh at Sunderland.
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