Aston Villa's O'Neill favourite to replace Benitez

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London, Nov 8(ANI): Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has emerged as the man to succeed Rafa Benitez if the Reds fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Liverpool chiefs Tom Hicks, George Gillett and managing director Christian Purslow have been standing by beleaguered Benitez, but the staunch support has shifted following club's chaotic season, with six defeats, one draw and just one win in their last eight games.

Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Lyon leaves Liverpool's Champions League campaign in a precarious position and with five Premier League defeats this season means their first title since 1990 is a pipedream.

Failing to qualify for the Champions League next season would have a huge effect on Liverpool's already shaky financial position, as the club's budget is based largely on Champions League qualification. An absence from the top four would badly damage any chances of Hicks and Gillett refinancing the club's debt.

The club's hierarchy is now discussing Benitez's position and they have come to the conclusion that O'Neill is the best suited and best placed to take the club forward.

O'Neill has done a fine job at re-establishing Villa as one of the country's top eight clubs. His ability to manage has impressed Hicks and Gillett, who have become increasingly wary of how quickly Benitez blames his inability to push Liverpool to the next level on a lack of transfer funds.

Gillett and Hicks also admire how well O'Neill has worked within budgets and in tandem with Villa owner Lerner's requirements. (ANI)

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