Rafa - I'm here to stay

Rafa Benitez is confident he will remain as Liverpool manager for a 'long time' as reports suggest he is on the verge of being offered a new deal at Anfield.

The Reds boss' future has been questioned this season as Liverpool sit in sixth position in the Premier League and 18 points behind leaders Arsenal.

Benitez, who joined Liverpool in 2004, also suffered a much-publicised bust-up with the club's American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks earlier in the campaign following a disagreement over transfer policy.

However, speculation is mounting that Benitez is set to be offered a new contract to extend his stay on Merseyside beyond the year-and-a-half the Spaniard has to run on his present deal.


And Benitez, who takes his side to Bolton on Sunday, is sure his long-term future lies with the Reds.

"I have confidence I will be here for a long time - not just for two years," Benitez told Liverpool's official website.

"I have 18 months left on my contract but I have a lot of confidence that it will be easier next season and I am sure the situation will change in the future.

"I have confidence that we are progressing in the right direction. At this moment the only thing I have in my mind is to progress with Liverpool and try to win titles.

Title drought

"I am not looking anywhere else. I am really pleased here now and I think we will improve the situation in the future and that's why I want to stay for longer.

"People ask me why I want to stay here. It's because I know we can improve, I know it's a massive club, it's a top side and we can progress. So I want to do my best and I think we can improve things."

Benitez accepts that his side's only real aim is to succeed in the UEFA Champions League this season, but he is positive Liverpool can soon put an end to their 18-year top-flight title drought.

"This year we can only work to win the Champions League and be in the top four," Benitez said in the Sunday Mirror. "But I am confident we can win the Premier League in the future.

"We are disappointed to be so far behind this season and maybe it will take more time to close the gap."