Belfast Telegraph

Benitez stays calm amid the Anfield storm

Rafael Benitez maintains the latest twists in the battle for power at Liverpool are not affecting him and claims the fact that he has already signed a player for next season is evidence that he is still able to work effectively despite the ongoing problems at Anfield.

Having been unable to conceal his anger at claims that chief executive Rick Parry was involved in attempts to bring Jürgen Klinsmann to the club last year and after demanding his situation was clarified by the board following the 3-1 win over Blackburn last Sunday, Benitez could hardly have been less confrontational yesterday.

But he was far from expansive when pressed on whether he was satisfied with the response he had had to his outburst last weekend. "I was talking after the game against Blackburn and since then, we have been progressing," Benitez said. "That means we have been in contact. As a club, we have been progressing, and that is positive.

"I will not explain too much, but from Sunday until now, we have been progressing. So we continue working and doing our job. We have some signings for the next season done. They are senior players for the first team and young players for the first team and reserve team. Two of them are really close, young players, and one senior player is done. He talks good English, but is not English."

Benitez said he had not seen Tom Hicks' latest interview in which the American, who is keen to show his support for the manager, once again demanded Parry's resignation as the club's owners spent another week trading criticism.

Despite having stoked the fires himself, Benitez remains adamant that it is business as usual at Anfield and reiterated his desire to stay on Merseyside for at least the two years that remain on his contract.

"We are trying to go forward," he added. "We have had meetings with the scouting department, we talk about targets and they travel all around the world talking with players and agents. We are trying to do our job. I am really pleased here and really happy, I want to stay and I have two more years left on my contract. We are working on trying to improve the squad for next season. We have some movements for next season, so we will continue trying to do the same."

Asked if he could walk away this summer if the off-field limbo continues, Benitez said: "No. At this moment, no. I think the squad is already better for next season than for this season."

Benitez, who has a doubt over Steven Gerrard ahead of today's game at Fulham due to a minor neck problem, was not concerned about comments from the Cottagers' relegation rivals related to his selection. "Each manager has his own problems," he said. "I will try to win with my team. If I have been criticised for teams selection for years, I will do the same if it's good enough to win."


From Belfast Telegraph