Former Liverpool Boss Rafa Benitez Blames His Failures On Ex-Owners

Spaniard claims George Gillett and Tom Hicks interfered with his management and ran the football club as nothing but a ‘business’.

Rafa Benitez has hit out at former Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett for denying him funds to strengthen his squad for a Premier League title challenge.

The Spaniard spent six years at the Anfield club, winning the FA Cup and Champions League, before leaving two years ago.

And the 52-year-old has revealed he was not given the support to mount a title challenge in his final season at the club.

‘Attempting to work in the transfer market that summer was almost impossible,’ Benitez said in his new book being serialised in the Daily Mirror.

‘We knew we would need cover and support for Fernando Torres, as David Ngog was still developing, and we had raised the cash to find it.

‘The player we identified to fill that role was Stevan Jovetic, a young Montenegro forward playing for Fiorentina in Italy.

‘The funds we thought we had available would also have stretched to another central defender, to provide cover for Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger.

‘The two players we had identified were Sylvain Distin, then with Portsmouth, and West Ham’s Matthew Upson, both boasting abundant Premier League experience.

‘Signing one of those two, plus the tall, powerful, intelligent Jovetic, would have given Liverpool the squad we needed to build on the previous year’s title challenge, when we had run Manchester United so close.

‘Liverpool, though, was no longer a football club. It was a business.

‘The money, which we wanted to use to take Liverpool on to the next level, was all gone.


This comes in the wake of Benitez’s admission that he was surprised new owner John W. Henry did not turn to him when he sacked Kenny Dalglish in the summer.

Benitez no doubt endured a tumultuous relationship with the then-owners Hicks and Gillett during his six-year spell in charge at Anfield and it was seemingly this poor relationship, coupled with the side’s worst run in 22 years, that saw the owners finally decide to sack the Spaniard.

Much of the blame for Liverpool’s poor form at the time of his sacking can be firmly laid at the Spaniard’s door, as his glorious first couple of years at Anfield were not followed up with any titles in the following 4 seasons. In this spell the make-up of the side and style of football being played by his team often screamed of poor tactics and management coupled with poor transfer dealings.

Benitez’s claims that much of what he tried to do in those final seasons, particularly in terms of his transfer dealings, was blocked by the American owners lend weight to the notion that they too had a significant role in the club’s failings after 2006.

Yet, though it may be that Benitez had a number of targets in that final summer transfer window which he was ultimately unable to add due to the management of the club by the owners, they can be forgiven for not being overly-willing to free up vast funds. After all, Benitez had made a number of bizarre and costly decisions the previous year, most notably in selling star-player Xabi Alonso for £30m only to spend most of the takings on Alberto Aquilani, who arrived injured and never produced for the side.

Benitez’s stock has rightly fallen since he reached the dizzy heights of Champions League success with Liverpool in 2005 and any club looking to appoint him must stop to think carefully whether he is such a wise choice.

He followed his sacking at Liverpool with a spell at Inter Milan, but was sacked after just six-months after again falling out with club-owners, having issued a demand for extra transfer funds which was dismissed out of hand, suggesting an inability to get on with the bank-rollers of the club he manages is something of a trait of the previously much-coveted Spaniard.

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