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Last Updated: Monday, 26 November 2007, 07:01 GMT
Benitez renews attack on owners
Rafael Benitez
Benitez has refused to back down in his dispute with the owners
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has again risked the wrath of the club's American owners by openly questioning their transfer policy.

The Spaniard was told by club co-owner Tom Hicks to "quit talking about new players" after suggesting they were holding up his transfer plans.

But Benitez ignored that plea, saying: "They don't understand what the transfer window means in Europe.

"They need to understand how difficult it is to sign players."

The rift between Benitez and Liverpool's American owners has led to speculation in a number of newspapers that the Spaniard's job is under threat, with Jose Mourinho in line to replace him.

We need to talk to the agents now, if not we will lose targets

Rafael Benitez

However, Hicks and co-owner George Gillett released a statement on the club's official website late on Sunday to dampen speculation.

"Despite speculation in today's newspapers, there is nothing new to say," said the statement.

"We had a good win on Saturday and have got some very important games coming up starting with Porto on Wednesday, followed by Bolton and Reading, before Marseille and Manchester United in a few weeks.

"Both of us, together with chief executive Rick Parry, plan to meet with Rafa when we come over mid-December to make decisions on the team's requirements at that time."

Benitez has himself admitted that the relationship had soured since a meeting after the draw with Arsenal on 28 October.

"We had a meeting which was really positive. After this something changed," he said.

"They told me to be focused on coaching and training because Rick Parry will be looking after signing players."

In a bizarre press conference ahead of Saturday's win over Newcastle, Benitez answered a series of questions with the words: "I am focused on training and coaching my team."

He even went as far as suggesting he could be a candidate for the England post.

That led Hicks to tell the Liverpool Echo: "We told him to concentrate on the games coming up. I guess he didn't like it.


"We will come over in December. That is the time to talk about other issues."

But Benitez insists December will be too late to discuss plans for the January transfer window.

"It's clear Mr Hicks wants the best for the club. So do I," he said.

"It's not a draft system. We have free players available now. I'm not talking about players that cost money.

"We need to talk to the agents now, if not we will lose targets.

"In the summer, the players will be more expensive. I have not been talking about spending but doing the opposite.

"We have brought money back. We brought in 26m this year and you can see the value of the squad."

Benitez made a similar plea to the owners after the Champions League final in May.

The owners responded by spending close to 45m on the likes of Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun.

Benitez is now keen to tie up a 17m permanent deal for Javier Mascherano.

But his position could be further weakened if Liverpool fail to beat Porto on Wednesday - a result which would see them almost certainly eliminated from the Champions League.

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