Benitez backs Sissoko
Benitez backs Sissoko as Ayestaran leaves Anfield
By Peter O'Rourke. Last Updated: October 14, 2007 3:31pm
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has backed Mohamed Sissko to regain his best form soon.
Sissoko has come under fire in recent weeks for some below-par performances as The Reds have struggled to reproduce their early season displays.
Benitez admits the Mali international is short of confidence, but the former Valencia chief is confident the all-action midfielder will bounce back.
"I see he is giving everything to play well," Benitez told the club's official website.
"For our supporters that is the first thing any player must do.
"Momo was a key player when we won 82 points in the Premier League. Now we need to give him time to allow him to regain his confidence.
"I spoke to him after the Marseille game and said 'keep going.' He knows how I work because I managed him when he was 18 at Valencia, where he won the league and Uefa Cup with me.
"He knows I have a lot of confidence in him. I will push him and I will try to improve him."
Meanwhile, Liverpool have confirmed the departure of Pako Ayestaran as Benitez's assistant manager.
Benitez revealed last month Ayestaran was leaving Anfield after a reported bust-up between the pair.
A number of Spanish clubs and English sides were thought to be waiting in the wings to offer Ayestaran a job, but Liverpool have blocked any move for the highly-rated coach as he remains contracted to the club until the summer of 2008 as a result of the severance package.
"Following discussions between Rafael Benitez and Pako Ayestaran, it has been agreed that it would be in the best interests of all parties if Pako leaves his post as assistant manager," Reds chief executive Rick Parry told the club's official website.
"Pako, however, will remain under contract to us until next summer.
"The club want to thank Pako for his hard work and contribution to our success over the past three years."