Benitez Clears Desk Following Message Of Support

LIVERPOOL manager Rafael Benitez was last night clearing the family photographs from his desk after the club's owners gave him their full support.

Aquilani is still being assembled by the legendary Anfield 'boot room'

The statement, printed on the back of a jobseekers allowance application, stressed that while the board felt they had the right manager, they also acknowledged the fans' view that he was about as much use as an air freshener that smelled of cat faeces.

Co-owner George Gillett said: "We don't blame Liverpool's terrible start to the season on the man whose job it is to make sure that doesn't happen. Nevertheless, it is hardly my place to overturn centuries of traditional Merseyside effigy-burning."

Benitez has been criticised over his decision to sell Xabi Alonso within months of de-friending him on Facebook. Meanwhile he has also been under fire for spending £20m on flat-pack midfielder Alberto Aquilani, who arrived at Anfield in a large cardboard box with all the instructions in Italian.

Gillett added: "It's business as usual. This Saturday we'll be flicking bits of meat pie at him from the directors' box before disconnecting his Blackberry and cancelling his petrol card. All with our full support."

Liverpool fan Tom Logan said: "I'm not fickle. Rafa brought European success, a genuine title challenge and the best striker in the world. But losing to Fiorentina does now mean that I want to fire him out of a cannon. Into a volcano."

But the Liverpool manager insisted that whatever the club's current faults the squad did now contain 100% less Harry Kewell than when he arrived.

Benitez added: "What's in the cardboard box? Oh, it's just some coffee mugs, a few photos, a mini desk fan and loads and loads of pens."