I'm not being sacked by Inter, insists bullish Benitez

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The Independent Football

Rafael Benitez has denied reports in the Italian press that he is soon to be sacked from his role as Internazionale manager. Yesterday's Gazzetta dello Sport said that he was soon to be dismissed by the president Massimo Moratti although Benitez rejected these suggestions in an interview with Spanish radio.

The front page headline of Gazzetta yesterday declared "Benitez is Out", despite the Spaniard leading Inter to the Club World Cup title last Saturday with a 3-0 win over Congolese side TP Mazembe. But Benitez said in an interview with Spanish radio yesterday that he had heard nothing of his dismissal.

"No, I have not been fired," he told Onda Cero while on a holiday in Liverpool. "I am surprised because I have seen a lot of headlines of newspapers and I have been phoned by a lot of people asking me if I have been fired, and that is not true at all. These are rumours that have been around for some time, but the only thing that I can say is that I am on holiday, and I want to rest so I can come back soon."

The manager went on to deny that there had been any falling out with Moratti. "We have a good relationship. We have never had a problem," Benitez said. "When we spoke on the phone, we spoke about the team, he told me that the players and former players told him that it was the best football that Inter had played in the last 15 to 20 years, that we were the Barcelona of Italy."

The speculation regarding Benitez's dismissal was further undermined by Moratti himself, who told reporters to "stay relaxed". The man who appointed Benitez in June said: "I'm not going to speak today, I don't want to create arguments with anyone."

Benitez's hold on his job had been threatened by a poor start to Inter's Serie A season. Inter had won the last five consecutive Scudetti, and last year, under the management of Jose Mourinho, they won the treble, including their first European Cup since the consecutive triumphs of Helenio Herrera's side in 1964 and 1965. As such, the Nerazzurri's form so far this term, leaving them seventh in Serie A and 13 points behind leaders and rivals Milan, has undermined Benitez's position.

Benitez's decision to demand more "respect" and more transfer spending from Moratti was unpopular with the club president. The Spaniard said in the aftermath of the victory in the Club World Cup: "If Inter want me as their coach, then they must allow me to control everything that happens within the squad.

"Support has to be from start to finish, 100 per cent. Otherwise, you don't win. With support, I mean above all intervention in the transfer market."

He went on to suggest that the board had reneged on promises. "I deserve respect. I am shouldering all the blame and all the responsibility, but the club promised me in August three players. None arrived."