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Liverpool declare Benitez's job safe

Steven Gerrard walks by Rafa Benitez after being substituted in their 1-0 win over Debrecen.
Steven Gerrard walks by Rafa Benitez after being substituted in their 1-0 win over Debrecen.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Liverpool chief executive Christian Purslow says Rafa Benitez's job is "under no threat"
  • Benitez says Champions League expectations have been unfairly raised for the Reds
  • Steven Gerrard says Liverpool must now guarantee qualification for next year
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(CNN) -- Liverpool chief executive Christian Purslow has declared Rafael Benitez's job as "under no threat" despite the club's European Champions League exit on Tuesday night.

The English Premier League side failed to progress to the competition's knock-out stage for the first time since 2002-03 season after Fiorentina's defeat of Lyon left the side unable to qualify from their group.

Purslow, speaking to the media after the game, insisted the nature of the five-time European champion's exit would not prompt a change in management.

"You can never predict last-minute goals, which have cost us dear in the Champions League. That's no basis to make managerial decisions," said Purslow.

"We don't run our business in that respect. I'm on the record as saying Rafa's signed a new five-year contract, he's four months into that contract so to discuss that is not appropriate."

Purslow said Liverpool's failure to progress past the group stage should have little baring on the club's finances if they can make the latter stages of the Europa League which would leave them "financially neutral for the year."

I'm on the record as saying Rafa's signed a new five-year contract, he's four months into that contract so to discuss that is not appropriate
--Liverpool chief executive Christian Purslow

However, with club debts estimated at $418 million and funds still needed for a planned new stadium, the loss of the potentially lucrative Champions League money could hit Liverpool hard, with the forced participation in the second-tier Europa League leading to a potential loss of $4 million.

Benitez remained philosophical after the setback and said previous success -- Liverpool have reached the Champions League final twice in recent years -- had unfairly raised expectations. How well is Benitez performing in the battle of the managerial mind games?

"We did our job here but we cannot change things, we had chances in all of the games - we could have won all of them," Benitez told the club's official Web site.

"We have been so good in the last few years that people think it's easy to progress. You can see every year we've qualified and everyone expects us to be in the final."

Liverpool now turn their attentions to their Premier League game with city-rivals Everton this Sunday, looking to get their disappointing league campaign back on track.

Benitez's side currently lie seventh in the division, 13 points behind leaders Chelsea, having won just one of their last six league fixtures, a run of form that has left their title ambitions faltering.

The Reds' need to recover their form despite an injury list that includes Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres and with disunity in the squad afterRyan Babel announced be planned to leave if he did not play more games.

Despite the end of this season's Champions League campaign, Gerrard said participation in the competition remains of the utmost importance for his team.

"It's important we finish in the top four, that goes without saying," said the Liverpool captain. "For financial reasons, but also from a personal point of view it is important for players to play in the Champions League because it's the best level."