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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 10:09 GMT
Ferguson blasts Liverpool owners
Liverpool owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks
Gillett (left) and Hicks (right) have a strained relationship with Benitez
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has criticised Liverpool's American owners for the way they have undermined manager Rafa Benitez.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett upset the club's supporters after admitting they had sounded out Jurgen Klinsmann as a possible replacement for the Spaniard.

"What happened was a bad piece of business on Liverpool's part, no doubt about that," Ferguson said.

"That can be very upsetting. You should let a manager get on with his job."

Ferguson is the longest-serving manager in English football, having been appointed at Old Trafford in 1986.

In that time he has become the most successful manager in British football history.


Under his stewardship, the club has won nine Premier League titles, five FA Cups, two League Cups, the European Cup, the Cup Winners' Cup, the Super Cup and Inter-Continental Cup.

Since Benitez took over at Anfield, Liverpool have won the FA Cup and Champions League.

But that has not prevented him having a high-profile falling out with the club's owners, and Ferguson said their lack of backing for their man did not make Benitez's job any easier.

"At big clubs, it's absolutely paramount that the board show their class," said Ferguson.

"Arsene Wenger has had great support at Arsenal and I've had great support, too, ever since I came here. So there's a certain type of unity there."

Liverpool fans show their feelings towards the owners
Fans have made it clear where their sympathies lie over the matter

A survey carried out by the Liverpool Supporters' network showed that many fans agree with Ferguson's criticism of Gillett and Hicks.

Around 2,000 supporters took part, and 76% said they would 'seriously consider reducing their financial commitment to the club' if the current owners stayed in charge.

When asked to choose between the owners and the manager as to who had the best interest of the club at heart, 99% backed Benitez.

"The results of this survey are indicative of the strength of feeling among Liverpool fans that the club is very much in the wrong hands at present," said LSN spokesman Neil Atkinson.

"Tom Hicks and George Gillet are not trusted."

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