Benitez demands focus as Parry prepares to leave

Rafael Benitez will not let the pending departure of chief executive Rick Parry distract Liverpool from their attempts to win the Champions League and the Barclays Premier League.

Rafael Benitez will not let the pending departure of chief executive Rick Parry distract Liverpool from their attempts to win the Champions League and the Barclays Premier League.

The Liverpool manager was responding to the surprise decision of Parry – chief executive for 12 years – and the club’s American owners to part company today.

Parry, who has been locked in a power battle for months at Anfield, will leave at the end of the season.

But with Liverpool on the brink of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals after the outstanding first-leg win in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid this week, and with belief still that they are in the title race, Benitez wants off-field politics to take a back seat.

He said: “We have three months now of very, very important games so we must concentrate on that. We must be positive, work together and do what is best for the club.”

Parry’s departure, it has been claimed, is because his relationship with joint-owner Tom Hicks has become unworkable.

But it has also emerged today that with the owners desperate still to sell the club for the highest price possible, they have received advice that they will get a better price if Benitez stays at the club.

At least two Middle East groups remain interested in buying the club, but co-owner George Gillett has been told that Benitez’s continued reign as manager is imperative. Last year Gillett blocked Hicks’ demands to axe Parry.

Some will believe that Benitez has won the power battle at the club over crucial clauses in his yet-to-be agreed new contract.

He wanted to wrestle control of the transfer budget and contract negotiations from Parry as well as taking command of the youth academy.

But today Benitez insisted: “Our relationship has been good, professional.

“In terms of the personal relationship it has been good, because we both want the best for the club.

“I do not see the situation as a power battle. The owners have decided to do this, now we both have to work together. I am sure that Rick, myself and the owners will do this until the end of the season.

“We all have to work together with important games coming. My personal relationship with him is not bad, and the professional relationship between us and the discussions we have are between us.

“Clearly we want to work together, we want to win and we want to do well in the title race and in the Champions League.

“Those things are my main concern. I am sure we can work together to improve our chances and to win.

“I have always been talking about football operations, although people keep talking about power battles, but it is not about power.

“It is about the normal things that are football issues and the normal things that a manager does in a club.”

Regarding his own future and next contract, Benitez said: “We will have new talks maybe next week. We will see whether we can progress, it is not about who is there or not at the moment, it is about the future.

“It is important to finalise my contract, but we have been working for months on this, so let’s see where we go from here.”

Benitez added of Parry: “We have to work together because he stays here until the end of the season, and after that I wish him all the best.

“As for my new contract, I have been talking about the need for the owners and my advisors to talk, and they are still to talk.”

He explained: “I do not think what has happened will affect those talks. We all know we want the best for the club, everybody.

“So we will try to work together, and to win games and be successful.”

An accountant by profession, Parry joined Liverpool from a similar role with the Premier League in 1997.

Parry said today: “I have had 12 very exciting years at Liverpool and am extremely proud of what has been achieved by the club over that period.

“It has been a privilege to serve the club and as a lifelong supporter I wish the owners, Rafa, the players and the wonderful staff all the very best for the future.”

Hicks said: “Rick’s commitment to Liverpool is epitomised by his desire to ensure that this transitional period is managed efficiently.”

Gillett added: “He has been integral to the club’s success over the past decade and leaves with our best wishes for the future.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox