Hicks confident Benitez will stay

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The Independent Online

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks predicts Rafael Benitez will remain manager for the next five years - and insists he has no concerns at all about the Spaniard's decision to reject the terms of a new contract.

Benitez today chose to decline the deal because of an apparent disagreement with Hicks and his fellow owner George Gillett over his level of control.

Benitez explained: "The owners feel that the manager's decisions need to be subject to the chief executive."

But Hicks has subsequently told Sky Sports News he has no worries about the situation, and sent a message to Liverpool fans that he expects Benitez to remain at Anfield for years to come.

"I will be working with Rafa to get this resolved - and I am just not worried about it at all," he said.

"Rafa is going to be coach of Liverpool for the next five years, and we will work through all this."

Hicks concedes Benitez has had qualms about the details of his position - but the American is confident there is no reason to fear an impasse.

"Rafa has been frustrated for a long time at the length of time it has taken certain things to happen," he said.

"We understand that and are committed to working with him.

"I think he's just trying to position himself to do his job better. We will work through it.

"We can fix it - and we will. Rafa wants to be the manager and will be the manager."

Hicks expects to meet Benitez at the end of this month to discuss any outstanding issues but has made it clear too that the lines of communication have been open and cordial in recent times.

He is also delighted with Liverpool's success on the pitch this season.

"You can't complain being in first place (in the Barclays Premier League)," Hicks notes.

"I have had a great relationship with Rafa over this past year. We talk often and email even more often - and I have had a lot of fun watching him do a great job this year.

"There are certainly no issues between Rafa and the owners."

While Hicks is urging Liverpool and their supporters to concentrate not on matters off the pitch but on the points to be won in Monday's derby at home to Everton, Benitez has left little room for doubt that he is far from happy.

With less than 18 months remaining on his contract, Benitez's claims that he is being asked to defer to chief executive Rick Parry on transfer issues appear to be the sticking point.

The 48-year-old told the Liverpool Echo: "This is solely about being allowed to manage Liverpool Football Club to the best of my abilities as I see them.

"I believe that this club has the potential to improve - and I just want to be able to help this to happen.

"I will continue to do my job as manager and concentrate on the thing that our fans want me to focus on - winning trophies for them.

"From the first day I came to the club, I have only ever given 100% - and I will continue to do this.

"I know that I am subject to results and to our fans - and they are the best judges I will ever have."

Hicks and Gillett insisted via the club's website they would find a solution.

A spokesperson for the owners said on www.liverpoolfc.net: "As Rafa says, he enjoys a strong working relationship with Tom and George and they are united behind the team.

"They understand Rafa's frustrations and are committed to working with him and his advisers to find a solution. They will keep talking, and in the meantime all focus is on the pitch and the next game."

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