Benitez demands a farewell to arms

Rafael Benitez has urged Liverpool’s warring factions to “work together” for the benefit of the club.

Rafael Benitez has urged Liverpool’s warring factions to “work together” for the benefit of the club.

The Reds boss, aware he is in a position of great strength while the current ownership battle rages on, warned his paymasters of the dangers of missing out on their summer transfer targets.

In what was an important meeting with co-owner Tom Hicks and his director son Tom Jnr at the club’s Melwood training complex yesterday, Benitez wasted no time in outlining what is needed if the club is to progress on the field.

Hicks’ fellow owner, George Gillett, has also been made fully aware of the manager’s position.

Benitez knows that in the current climate, neither Hicks nor Gillett will dare risk losing his support.

And with Dubai International Capital, who are still trying to buy their way into the club, having also made it clear that Benitez is untouchable, Liverpool’s manager feels able to explain the facts of life as the summer transfer market approaches.

Benitez has drawn up a wish list, which reportedly includes Aston Villa skipper Gareth Barry and Blackburn’s David Bentley.

He said: “We have two owners and a chief executive. I need to progress, I have a responsibility as manager to prepare the squad for the future, to improve the squad.

“I had to talk to them (the owners). It was a good, positive meeting. We have talked about targets in the transfer market and how this club must progress.

“I have not spoken to them about the ongoing situation, only how to improve and how to progress.

“It is important to sign the right players for the future, that was what I wanted to talk about.

“Now we have started to progress with some of our targets. It is okay, last week and this week it is the same. We are progressing so I believe we will be stronger next season.

“You need to keep going if you want to improve, that is what is really important.”

Benitez was made uncomfortable recently when Hicks attempted to use him as an ally against Gillett and chief executive Rick Parry.

But the Spaniard has tried hard to limit his contact with Hicks, predominantly, to discussions on transfer.

It is inconceivable Benitez could end the season still without clear knowledge of his budget and with targets not outlined.

Any deviation from a clear path forward would open the way for Benitez to consider his future, with no shortage of clubs monitoring developments.

Benitez added: “We have had a very positive meeting. We talked of how to progress in the future.

“We need to work together, and he (Hicks) agreed with me that we must talk together. If we want to go forward and sign players, we have to all work together.

“Everything is positive. We have talked about targets to sign, that is my aim.

“I do not doubt we will achieve those targets. I have a scouting department that is working and progressing. Now I have told the owners how we need to progress.

“Rick Parry will be working too, and if everyone works hard and we work together, it will be easier.

“Clearly I expect agreement on recruiting players for the summer. We are ready now for going forward.

“Now we have had a meeting, we are in a better position. We need to think about Birmingham and Chelsea, but we must also think about improving the squad.

“George knows about what was said, everybody knows. Everyone has the same information.”

Gillett is expected to watch Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg at Chelsea, and the DIC contingent of Amanda Staveley and Samir Al Ansari will again be in attendance, having been Gillett’s invited guests on Tuesday at Anfield.

There is also a strong suggestion DIC could buy Gillett’s 50% stake in the next “three or four weeks” in the belief Hicks’ veto will soon expire.

And in recent days there has been a move to underline the day-to-day involvement of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in the move to buy the club, rather than a continued reference to DIC – which is in effect the royal family’s investment company.

Previously the Dubai ruler has not been directly involved, but now the situation is significantly changing, and an offer could also soon be made to Hicks as well.

But Benitez cannot allow himself to become too entangled in the ongoing politics.

He believes he has a squad to build and needs backing, a budget and authority to buy and sell players.

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