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Rafa with fans as Hicks sleeps

On several occasions this season it has been suggested that Liverpool's performances have been sleep inducing, but never before has anyone nodded off while watching them. Not until Saturday anyway.

That it was Tom Hicks, their unpopular owner, who had to be roused from his slumber with a polite nudge as Liverpool recorded a routine victory over Bolton Wanderers probably says more about him than his team. Nevertheless, the point stands that Liverpool are not an easy watch.

At least Hicks had livened up enough after the final whistle to pop his head out of an executive lounge window to look down on the protesters who had gathered below in their latest attempt to put pressure on the Texan and George Gillett Jr, his co-owner, to call time on their tenure.

It was not just outside the ground that pressure was being brought to bear. Emboldened by hard interest from Juventus, Rafael Benitez is now using his role as Liverpool manager to make his own demands of the club's American owners, while aligning himself with the fans.

"I am talking about things they (the fans) want when I talk about investment and the stadium so we are together in these aims," Benitez said in a move to reject suggestions that he could lose the support of fans by admitting his pride at being pursued by Juventus. "If a top side is watching you, you have to be proud. I said also I am really proud to be here."

Benitez would only have been able to relax once Emiliano Insua's shot deflected off Kevin Davies to put Liverpool two goals clear.

Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, could only reflect on what might have been, given that his side had a shot cleared off the line and a decent penalty shout waved away before Dirk Kuyt's scrambled opener.

"It's fair to say that a bit of bad luck went against us today," Coyle said. "But we'll pick ourselves up and be ready to go again."


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