Rafa rejects terms of new Liverpool contract
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has rejected the terms of a new contract offer, according to the Liverpool Echo.
The Spaniard, who has been at the helm of the Anfield outfit since June 2004, has been considering the deal proposed to him by club owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett and confirmed last week that an agreement had been reached over the length of his contract and the salary.
However, the Spaniard insists he will only agree to the new deal if given more control over football matters - rather than having to answer to club chief executive Rick Parry.
Benitez, who insists money is not an issue, has informed the American owners of his stand and said: "The owners feel that the manager's decisions need to be subject to the chief executive.
"But I know that I am subject to results and to our fans and they are the best judges I will ever have."
The news comes at a key stage in Liverpool's season, with the Reds to play Merseyside rivals Everton in the Premier League on Monday, and the Liverpool manager confirmed he wants more control over the club's academy.
He is adamant too he should be the man responsible for transfers, providing he conducts his business within the restraints of the club's budget.
Benitez said: ''This is solely about being allowed to manage Liverpool Football Club to the best of my abilities as I see them.
''I believe that this club has the potential to improve - and I just want to be able to help this to happen. I will continue to do my job as manager and concentrate on the thing that our fans want me to focus on - winning trophies for them.
''From the first day I came to the club, I have only ever given 100% - and I will continue to do this.''
Benitez's refusal of the deal will inevitably dominate before Monday's derby, but the boss intends to focus all his thoughts on the game and will strive to ensure his players are not affected by his future.
Indeed, he was keen to dismiss suggestions of a rift with the American owners, describing Hicks as ''very supportive'' and the contracts talks as ''positive and friendly''.
That suggests this will not be the end of the matter, club and manager now in a position where they will seek to address each other's issues with the terms of the tabled contract.
Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks predicts Rafael Benitez will remain manager for the next five years - and insists he has no concerns at all about the Spaniard's decision to reject the terms of a new contract.
Benitez today chose to decline the deal because of an apparent disagreement with Hicks and his fellow owner George Gillett over his level of control.
Benitez explained: ''The owners feel that the manager's decisions need to be subject to the chief executive.''
But Hicks has subsequently told Sky Sports News he has no worries about the situation, and sent a message to Liverpool fans that he expects Benitez to remain at Anfield for years to come.
''I will be working with Rafa to get this resolved - and I am just not worried about it at all,'' he said. ''Rafa is going to be coach of Liverpool for the next five years, and we will work through all this.''
Hicks concedes Benitez has had qualms about the details of his position - but the American is confident there is no reason to fear an impasse.
''Rafa has been frustrated for a long time at the length of time it has taken certain things to happen,'' he said. ''We understand that and are committed to working with him.
''I think he's just trying to position himself to do his job better. We will work through it. We can fix it - and we will. Rafa wants to be the manager and will be the manager.''
Hicks expects to meet Benitez at the end of this month to discuss any outstanding issues but has made it clear too that the lines of communication have been open and cordial in recent times.
He is also delighted with Liverpool's success on the pitch this season.
''You can't complain being in first place (in the Barclays Premier League),'' Hicks notes. ''I have had a great relationship with Rafa over this past year. We talk often and email even more often - and I have had a lot of fun watching him do a great job this year.
''There are certainly no issues between Rafa and the owners.''