West Ham 1 Liverpool 0

RAFAEL BENITEZ is confident he will be given time to turn around Liverpool's season after the stoppage-time defeat to West Ham virtually ended their hopes of getting back in the title race.

Mark Noble converted from the penalty spot with seconds remaining at Upton Park to leave Liverpool in seventh place in the Barclays Premier League, 17 points off the pace.

Benitez, however, feels they can still qualify for the Champions League despite going without a league win since Boxing Day.

When asked if he believes he will be given the time to turn it around, the Spaniard said: Yes.

We will improve. Because we can improve.'' Luis Boa Morte wasted two glorious opportunities for the hosts either side of half-time and West Ham also hit the crossbar when Noble's free-kick was glanced on by Steve Finnan.

However, Benitez still felt defeat was harsh and he also wanted a penalty when the ball struck Lucas Neill in the second half.

Did we deserve to lose? I think we deserved to win,'' said the Spaniard.

If you analyse the game, you can talk about the game. If you analyse the result you can talk about the result.

I am a manager, so I have some experience. We must think about how to improve, how to take our chances and to win.'' Benitez insisted he was not thinking about where Liverpool stand in the title race, adding: I'm thinking just about the next game and I will try to win the next three points against Sunderland. Our next game is more realistic to think about.'' When asked if the American owners of Liverpool will be analysing the game, he said: I don't know if they have a TV.

Everything is behind (us) and we will start thinking about winning games.'' The main worry for Hammers boss Alan Curbishley was Noble's celebrations, as the midfielder is flirting with suspension on four bookings.

He also was concerned with fans jeering Boa Morte for his missed opportunities.