Benitez happy with 'Juve' link


LIVERPOOL, January 30 – Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez said on Friday that he was proud of Juventus's reported interest in him, in comments that will be seen as keeping the door open to a possible move to Serie A.
Juventus on Friday sacked Ciro Ferrara and installed Alberto Zaccheroni as their new head coach.

The Italian giants did not confirm the length of Zaccheroni’s contract but local media reported that he had only been guaranteed the role until the end of the season.

That may be a sign that Juve’s directors, who reportedly sent a delegation to Liverpool to see Benitez earlier this week, still harbour hope of persuading the Spaniard to quit Anfield.

Benitez insisted on Friday that he did not want to talk about the subject but, perhaps significantly, confirmed he had been made aware of Juventus’s interest.

"I am not here to talk about speculation because people talk too much," he told reporters.

"I am focused on preparing my team for the game against Bolton. I know they (Juventus) were interested, that is part of the game now in football, but I am not ready to talk too much because I don’t want to lose my focus.

"When you are a manager and you have clubs asking (for you), you have to be proud because they are a top side in Europe, but I am really happy here and want to do my job as best I can."

Benitez remains a highly respected coach around Europe, despite Liverpool’s problems this season. The club have been knocked out of both the Champions League and the FA Cup and face a battle to secure a return to Europe’s elite competition next season by clinching a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Benitez, who is under contract at Anfield until 2013, has vowed to ensure that goal is achieved and Liverpool’s recent form — three wins and two draws in their last five league matches — has been encouraging.

But a section of the Liverpool support has already lost patience with the manager and, if the top-four place is not delivered, the club’s American owners will come under increased pressure to sack him at the end of the season.