Benitez applauds comittment of both fans and players

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has told the club's fans "I will be fighting until the end" after a 1-1 draw at Stoke on Saturday which means he remains under pressure.

Benitez had to dismiss claims that captain Steven Gerrard had been involved in a dressing-room row with his assistant Mauricio Pellegrino at half-time during last Wednesday's FA Cup humiliation at the hands of Reading. He said: "There was nothing there, nothing."

But he is still being confronted with claims that Gerrard wants to leave, that Fernando Torres will follow, and that he is only in a job because joint owners Tom Hicks – his main supporter – and George Gillett cannot agree on the way forward.

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Benitez privately believes he is safe this season and is planning for a summer transfer spree. By then new money should be in the club.

All the Liverpool manager can do until then is hope his players continue to fight and the majority of fans still give him their backing – and he had those crumbs of comfort at Stoke.

Benitez saw another last-gasp goal – this time from Robert Huth – rob him of a victory which Sotirios Kyrgiakos's first goal for the club appeared to have given Liverpool in a grimly fought, turgid match.

He said: "We were very good in terms of character, and effort. That is what I wanted to see from them.

"I am also pleased for the fans because we had to give them something.

"I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. I was pleased to see the players showing the reaction you expect from them.

"We are missing five top players, so I was really pleased with the way the other players reacted on the pitch."

He added: "It was special for me to hear the fans singing my name in such circumstances. I decide to stay here (last season) because of the fans; they know I will be fighting until the end.

"The players worked very hard, and they showed their disappointment after the game after having two penalties denied them. I have to be pleased with their response."

Stoke had selection and injury issues that upset their game plan. Manager Tony Pulis lost striker James Beattie just before the match, and then had Rory Delap and Abdoulaye Faye injured early on.

He said: "Beattie pulled out before the game with an injury. He felt a calf problem before the match, it stiffened up and we couldn't take a chance with him.

"We then lost two players to injury early on, and Matty Etherington had to play with an ankle injury for some while.

"We are not over-generous to teams who come to Stoke, we don't give much away. We are successful through commitment and honesty, and we get results, so a point against a major club like Liverpool is an achievement.

"The fans went home happy with what they saw from us and we held one of the country's top clubs."