Liverpool great John Barnes believes Rafael Benitez remains the right man to lead the Anfield club forward.
The Spaniard had endured a difficult couple of months, with Liverpool surrendering a lead at the top of the Premier League, and his outspoken attack on United boss Sir Alex Ferguson in January was pinpointed by many as the start of the decline.
Benitez’s future is also uncertain, with a new contract still to be agreed despite protracted negotiations.
Barnes told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme: ‘I think he is as good as anybody else. I don’t think a new manager coming in would win the league for Liverpool necessarily.
”We all know United have a stronger squad – they are better placed than Liverpool are at the moment. So a new manager coming in isn’t necessarily going to improve that situation. I think Rafa’s the right person, definitely.’
Meanwhile, Benitez has pledged to carry on goading Alex Ferguson.
He told Manchester United’s boss: ‘Now we’re the best in Europe!’
The Liverpool chief was fired up after seeing his side humble the reigning Premier League and European champions 4-1 at Old Trafford to breathe new life into his own title ambitions.
Benitez added: ‘Liverpool has been the best team in Europe over the past five years. It is a fact.
‘And now we have more belief and more confidence. We have to win every game from now on and see what happens with them.’
Benitez is determined to keep getting under Ferguson’s skin and carry on ranting against the Red Devils’ chief.
He insisted he had no regrets about his mid-season outburst, which a baffled Ferguson labelled ‘disturbed’.
And the Kop boss went on the offensive again after Saturday’s stunning triumph.
Benitez declared: ‘I respect Alex Ferguson. He is a great manager. But I have to defend my club.
‘Sometimes my English is not good enough but I do not understand the Scottish accent.’
Ferguson claimed on Friday he needed to study philosopher Sigmund Freud to understand Benitez.
Benitez countered: ‘Yes, I read about Freud when I was in school and university.
‘I try to improve my English, so maybe he will understand me if I say something. But I try to protect my club.’
He still believes that Liverpool have the confidence to win their remaining league games and take the title from United.
The Spaniard said: ‘We are playing well, so we have to enjoy this situation and get three points until the end of the season.’
Yet he knows that if Liverpool are to challenge United on a consistent basis in the future, they need to spend big.
Benitez admitted: ‘The mentality of our club is to win, to win everything, and United have the same mentality.
‘In modern football, the money makes a massive difference. You could see that in their substitutes. You have to try to get the best from your players. But if you have these resources, sometimes it’s easier.
‘When you talk about consistency, you talk about nine months. The squad is very, very important. They have good players on the pitch, on the bench and we have good players too.
‘The difference is they have four or five players on their own who can change games and we have one or two.’