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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Liverpool appoint Benitez
New Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez
Liverpool have named former Valencia boss Rafael Benitez as their new coach.

The 44-year-old takes over the Anfield hot seat from Gerard Houllier, who parted company with Liverpool in May.

Benitez was Liverpool's number one target and arrives having guided Valencia to the Spanish championship and Uefa Cup last season.

His resignation from Valencia on 1 June, turning down the offer of a new two-year contract, fuelled speculation he would arrive at Anfield.

Benitez's appointment was confirmed after Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry returned early from holiday to negotiate his contract.

A by-product of Benitez's appointment is expected to be Michael Owen's signature on a new contract at Anfield.

Owen is a known admirer of Benitez's methods, describing Valencia as one of the most impressive teams he has faced.

The arrival of Benitez is also likely to scupper any Chelsea move for Steven Gerrard after Euro 2004.

Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson
Phil Thompson's Anfield future is now in doubt

Benitez is certain to bring in new players - possibly including some of his successful Valencia squad with him - satisfying Gerrard's call for new signings.

Benitez's arrival could also trigger changes in Liverpool's backroom staff.

His Valencia assistant Francisco Ayestaran followed Benitez from Tenerife to the Mestalla, and could well follow him to Anfield.

That could affect the future of Phil Thompson, who has not been guaranteed a job under the new regime.

Sammy Lee, a fluent Spanish speaker from his time spent playing at Osasuna, could be found a role in the new set-up.

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