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Wrangling over Benitez's golden handshake may be all that stops a wave goodbye


With Juventus set to announce his arrival, the Liverpool manager's farewell to Anfield could deliver arch-rivals United a 19th title

There is a chance that all of the endgames – for Chelsea, Manchester United and Rafael Benitez – may arrive at once at Anfield tomorrow afternoon and if the match against Carlo Ancelotti's side happens to conclude with Liverpool taking the three points and Benitez running to the Kop, removing that tight-fitting shirt of his and bidding a valedictory farewell to the fans, then football will have been served with one of its supreme ironies.

The last meaningful act of the Spaniard's theatrical life in British football might have been to allow his nemesis, United, to deal him the last and cruellest cut of all and take the 19th League title – one more than Liverpool – they always vowed would be theirs. Football can be a desperately spiteful game at times.

With Liverpool's last hope of silverware having disappeared in the ashes of Thursday night's bitter Europa League semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid, and Juventus adamant yesterday that he is about to become their manager, Benitez drove another nail into his relationship with the club yesterday, declaring that he has only resisted alternative job offers put his way over the past year because of the supporters. "I'm here... because of those fans," Benitez said. "I have had massive offers over the last year and I decided to stay because of the fans. If I am here it is because of them." The fans alone? he was asked. "Yes. I am here despite massive offers, but I said I will stay. I gave them my word."