Benitez rejects new Liverpool contract

Manager angrily demands complete control over transfer deals at Anfield

Liverpool face the prospect of Rafael Benitez's contract dispute seriously undermining their title push after he publicly rejected the deal being offered to him yesterday and demanded complete control of transfers.

Although the club's co-owner Tom Hicks (below) later attempted to defuse the issue with public words of support for Benitez, there is astonishment among some at the club that Benitez has aired his rejection so publicly – and just three days before a crucial Merseyside derby. Hicks and co-owner George Gillett are understood to have been united, during the contract talks to date, in their view that the corporate structure of every Premier League club, in which the manager answers to a chief executive, should apply in Liverpool's case.

Though Benitez's involvement in transfer negotiations is welcomed, his demands that he should have even greater control than that enjoyed at Manchester United by Sir Alex Ferguson – who puts his transfer requests to the chief executive, David Gill – do not fit with the Americans' idea of how a business should be run. Hicks, who has the better relationship with Benitez, suggested he was prepared to tolerate a period of discussion on the subject. "Rafa is going to be coach of Liverpool for the next five years, and we will work through all this," he said.

But Benitez does not appear to be ready for compromise and unless Hicks is prepared to rewrite the Liverpool business model, the prospect of him walking out on the club this summer appears to be a real one. The Real Madrid manager's seat may be in the back of his mind, if Juande Ramos falters as many believe he will.

Currently, Liverpool's chief executive, Rick Parry, has control over spending, his being the final call on the requests for players that Benitez gives him. But Benitez, whose deal runs out in 18 months, took issue with that. "The owners feel the manager's decisions need to be subject to the chief executive," Benitez said. "But I know that I am subject to results and to our fans and they are the best judges I will ever have." But when Benitez was urging Hicks and Gillett to pay £18m for Gareth Barry last summer, the fans told him precisely what the owners were at the time: that he was not worth the price Aston Villa were asking.

The owners refused to grant Benitez the money to buy Barry because his original estimate of the player's value had been £10m to £12m and they felt they were being asked to pay over the odds. The Barry saga continues to be a cloud over Benitez's credibility with the Americans – one of several pieces of evidence to their mind that the current corporate structure is correct. The Aston Villa manager, Martin O'Neill, was unhappy with the way Benitez was seen to be unsettling his captain and his club's American owner, Randy Lerner, is a friend of Gillett.

Gillett held lengthy talks with the Spaniard on two visits to England late last year. But another concern within the Anfield hierarchy is the large turnover of players since Benitez's arrival in 2004. The other contractual sticking point is Benitez's desire for control over Liverpool's academy, though this is a side issue. The owners are of the view that, while the incumbent first-team manager's coaching philosophy should inform the academy's, continuity, as managers come and go, dictates that Benitez should not control it.

Benitez is hardly a frequent visitor to the academy. The number of overseas players in the academy, an issue the vice-captain Jamie Carragher said in his biography troubles him, is also something of which the owners are aware.

Hicks' decision to make a public response, as much out of keeping with the so-called Liverpool Way as Benitez's statement, is puzzling, to judge by the fact he and Gillett have shared the same stance during negotiations.

It is seen by some as part of the American's continuing attempts to curry favour with fans. If Benitez's time at Valencia is anything to go by, then this dispute may see him leave. In 2004, after taking the club to two league titles, he resigned after falling out with the club's director of sport over the failure to buy the players he had singled out.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London