Rafa Benitez has conceded that Liverpool must win at Manchester United to claim the Premier League title.
Liverpool’s faltering title challenge suffered another set-back on Sunday when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Manchester City at Anfield.
They now lie seven points adrift of Sir Alex Ferguson’s champions, but they still have to play at Old Trafford.
And Benitez admits that only a victory over the reigning champions will suffice.
“I think we will have to beat Manchester United now,” said Benitez. “Clearly it is more difficult now. It is a bad result. We have to beat Middlesbrough and Sunderland and start thinking about if we can win at Old Trafford.
“You never know what can happen but clearly they can win games and win games without playing well.
“I have confidence that we can beat Middlesbrough and Sunderland and then it will be a different situation. There are still 12 games to go, you can’t say anything is finished.”
Benitez refused to be drawn on his contract negotiations, which again overshadowed Sunday’s game and would only say: ”I have not said anything about this in a press conference, and we must now concentrate on football.”
Manchester City boss Mark Hughes admitted that it would now be difficult for Liverpool to reudce the arrears, saying: ”Manchester United will have to slip up now, and they do not do that very often.
”There are still a lot of games to go, but it is very much in their hands and they will have to lose three games now. You cannot see them doing that.”