Rafael Benitez is to demand “some answers” from the Liverpool board over their pre-Christmas plans to appoint Jurgen Klinsmann as his replacement.
The Anfield chief’s future at the club appears far from secure – and speaking after today’s 3-1 Barclays Premier League win at home to Blackburn had cemented Liverpool in fourth place, Benitez openly addressed the issue.
Co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett held talks with Klinsmann, claiming soon afterwards they did so because they were unsure of Benitez’s “commitment to the club”.
Hicks’ remarks in today’s press have outlined his reasons for wanting Rick Parry’s resignation, and it has emerged that Parry was “instructed” to attend the talks with Klinsmann.
Benitez, however, seems unlikely to be appeased by that account of events, given his existing rift with Parry.
“Off the pitch, I am surprised at things I have read,” he said.
“I need some clarification about a meeting with a lot of people that I did not know about.
“I will talk with the board about this (the Klinsmann issue) – as soon as possible, today or tomorrow.
“I need to resolve questions and I want some answers. I want to clarify things.
“I am really calm – but I want answers.”
It is the allegation of Parry’s involvement in the Klinsmann talks that most concerns Benitez.
“I need to talk to the board to clarify things,” he stressed.
“I was surprised about a meeting with another manager. What concerned me was the people who were in the meeting.”
Benitez knows, nonetheless, he cannot afford to allow the intrigue to deflect his attention from the field of play at such an important stage of the season.
“We (players and manager) are professionals and we know we must be focused on football – and we will try to do this,” the Spaniard promised.
“I will try to clarify the situation with the board and the people that need to explain this situation.
“It is not affecting the players. They are winning and they know we must finish in the top four and progress in the Champions League. We must stay focused on football.”
Benitez knows there is no time to be squandered, with the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final against Chelsea only 10 days away.
He added: “I will ask some questions; I will talk about things with them.
“That means as soon as possible – days, maybe hours.
“(My own position) is the reason I want to clarify the situation – not just about the meeting but the people who were in that meeting.
“I wasn’t affected today, because (Fernando) Torres and (Steven) Gerrard were playing well – and we won.”
Blackburn boss Mark Hughes had some obvious concerns, too, after his team matched their hosts at 0-0 to the hour mark only for Gerrard, Torres and Andriy Voronin to score for Liverpool before Roque Santa Cruz replied late on for Rovers.
“We made our own problems – by conceding bad goals that could have been avoided, by over-playing in bad areas and losing possession,” said Hughes.
“If you make consecutive errors in the same period of play, you will concede goals.
“The goals we conceded were poor from our point of view. For the first hour, we were in the game; neither team created much, so we felt very much that there was something for us in the second half.”
That all changed quickly – and Hughes admitted to admiration for Liverpool, as well as regrets for Rovers.
“Gerrard’s goal put us on the back foot, and they were able to go away from us,” he recalled.
“I was impressed by Liverpool and their work rate and the amount of effort individuals put in for the team cause – that was the key to their performance.
“They restrict the space you are allowed to work in, and that forces errors.
“We did not quite have enough.
“Liverpool are a very good team and they are playing with a lot of confidence.”