Rafael Benitez insisted he never enjoyed mind games with Jose Mourinho but he used his press conference yesterday to send a pointed message to Liverpool's owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, and cast major doubt over his future.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2007/11/23/sfnliv123.xml
Hicks and Gillett are not prepared to discuss transfer targets until they meet Benitez next month and the Spaniard is clearly deeply unhappy at being told he cannot immediately tie up Javier Mascherano, who is being targeted by Barcelona, on a permanent basis for a £17 million fee that he has negotiated.
Deeply unhappy: Rafael Benitez is concerned that Liverpool could miss out on two major signings
He is also worried that dithering could enable Manchester United or Real Madrid to beat him to the signing of Racing Santander's Argentine defender, Ezequiel Garay.
He believes that waiting could cost him both players and having volunteered that he would one day like to manage England, he refused to speak expansively on numerous topics yesterday, insisting that he was "focused on training and coaching".
That mantra, repeated 15 times in a nine-minute briefing with newspaper journalists, was a clear indication of his anger at what he perceives to be a crucial issue not being viewed as a top priority by the club's owners, who he thinks have told him just to get on with his job rather than complete key transfers.
Just two days after being linked with German club Bayern Munich caused him to speak about his long-term plans for Liverpool, his desire to win the league and his contentment at life on Merseyside, Benitez shrugged when he was asked if he stood by those statements and refused to deny that his future was in the balanc
Routine questions about tomorrow's opposition, Newcastle, and the issue with the Americans were met time and again with: "I am focused on training and coaching."
It is not the first time Benitez's friction with "the Americans" has come to the surface. In the wake of Liverpool's 2-1 defeat to AC Milan in the Champions League final in May, Benitez attacked the club's hierarchy over what he believed was a lack of funds and chief executive Rick Parry's sluggishness in the transfer market.
Hicks and Gillett backed their manager in the summer by spending in excess of £50 million on new players.
Despite that, Liverpool look no closer to mounting a serious challenge for the title.
Hicks and Gillett released a statement last night, which read: "We made a significant investment in the playing squad during the summer and desperately want this team to succeed. There are some very important games coming up and all of us need to focus on winning those games and getting the best out of the players we already have.
"We will leave any talk of buying or selling players until we come across to Liverpool in December and sit down with the manager then."http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/2007/11/23/rafa-doubts-reds-future-89520-20149549/
Rafa doubts Reds future
By David Maddock 23/11/2007
The Spanish coach (left) revealed his anger over how he perceives his situation at the club, when he remarkably put himself forward as the next England manager, and refused to commit himself to a long-term role at Anfield.
Benitez has become increasingly frustrated at his long-distance relationship with American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, and has deep reservations about their hands-off approach.
He is known to be concerned over what he sees as a lack of action in the transfer market - particularly over his demands for the upcoming tranfer window - and has been approached by both Bayern Munich and Fenerbahce in recent weeks.
In an extraordinary public outburst yesterday, the Liverpool boss gave what amounted to a 'back me or sack me' ultimatum to the American owners, visibly shaking with anger at an exchange with them that occurred just a few minutes before.
Gillett and Hicks quickly responded with a statement that argued they have given the Spaniard millions of pounds worth of backing in the transfer market, and equipped him with a squad to win trophies.
They also pointed out their patience in dealing with outbursts of this type from Benitez, most notably when he berated them after the Champions League final.
Their approach seems designed to call the bluff of Benitez, and force him to back down or quit the club - a move that would cost him the millions he would be owed on his contract if he were sacked.
At a crucial time in the club's history a vicious civil war has broken out. It can only destroy the fragile peace that has existed since the manager's last outburst.
Benitez stopped short of verbally threatening to walk out yesterday, but his implication was clear, and he did insist that he was a candidate to become the next manager of England.
"I may be interested in the England job. In the future you never know. It could happen, maybe if I improve my English," he said, with barely a hint of a smile.
Later, when questioned whether we should take his suggestion seriously, he responded: "I was serious about England, yes."