Benitez says he’ll walk if Gerrard and Torres are sold

RAFAEL BENITEZ will meet Liverpool’s owners next week when he will make it clear his position will become untenable should the club decide to cash in on Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

There has been a suggestion the club would be forced to sell their prize assets due to spiralling debts of £237 million (€275m), but Benitez will not agree to this under any circumstances and is adamant this must not happen.

Speaking after his club’s woeful season ended in more disappointment with a goalless draw at relegated Hull City, Benitez said: “You could see we were trying to win. We had chances and came close right at the end.

“We had three or four chances but couldn’t take them. We have not scored as many goals as last season and that has been the difference.

“We have to prepare things for next season and be organised. We have to analyse the problems and try and move forward.’’

He added: “If I stay I am not thinking about selling Gerrard and Torres, whatever you might hear from senior sources at the club! For the stability of the club it’s important.

“We will have another meeting and hopefully it can all get sorted. I would like to stay. I don’t want to sell those two players.

“I don’t think Liverpool will have the same problems next season. This is a massive club and will always attract some of the best players. This season has been a bad one but you can’t win all the time.

“But I don’t want to sell those two. I am clear on that. The chairman was clear, he doesn’t want to sell them either. The talks were positive. I gave the chairman my impressions and ideas and we need to move forward.’’

The visitors looked lethargic from start to finish and struggled to create any clear-cut chances, although Daniel Aggar blazed over the top with the home goal at his mercy and Alberto Aquilani struck the crossbar on the stroke of half-time.

This always promised to have a hollow feeling to it considering Hull had already been relegated and Liverpool had failed in their quest to finish in the top four.

There was still a great deal of pride at stake, however, especially for the visitors. The last thing Benitez needed to suffer was the ignominy of finishing the season on a losing note to a side destined for the Championship.

Interim Hull boss Iain Dowie is keen to get the job on a permanent basis and knew a home win would boost his chances.

Yet it was Liverpool who made the early running without appearing to get out of first gear.

Tom Cairney almost scored a bizarre own goal from 20 yards in the fifth minute but was relieved to see his interception slice inches wide of Matt Duke’s goal.

Nabil El Zhar demanded a smart, fingertip save from Duke with a powerful drive on 19 minutes and moments later George Boateng was in the right place at the right time to clear Dirk Kuyt’s backward header from underneath his own crossbar as Benitez’s men went in search of that early breakthrough.

The home side were living off scraps and struggling to create genuine chances, which seemed to reflect the story of their entire season. It took Dowie’s men half-an-hour to muster an effort on goal and even then Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink headed straight at Pepe Reina.

Better chances soon followed when Cairney’s shot deflected into the path of Mark Cullen but he was unable to get the ball out from underneath his feet at the crucial moment and seconds later the youngster, who scored his first Premier League goal at Wigan last weekend, headed wide from point-blank range to waste a wonderful cross from Atkinson.

Cullen’s woeful miss was emulated at the opposite end on the stroke of half-time when Aggar made a fool of himself.

Aquilani’s initial shot came back off the crossbar but fell invitingly to the defender, who managed to blaze his volley over the top despite having the Hull goal at his mercy.

Aquilani shot wide on 56 minutes as Hull continued to hold firm and Liverpool’s afternoon was summed up in the final minute of normal time when Gerrard dragged a shot agonisingly wide to leave Benitez shaking his head in despair on the sidelines.

MATCH RATING: ** – Started poorly and struggled to improve. Granted, Hull did their best to frustrate and stifle Liverpool whenever possible in the hope of hitting them on the break and the problem for those watching was that it worked.

REFEREE: Andre Marriner (W Midlands) 8 – Tried to let the game flow whenever possible and got most of his decisions right. An assured display.

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