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No rift with Benitez - Gillett

No rift with Benitez - Gillett

Jun 12 2007

by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post

George Gillett

GEORGE GILLETT has strenuously denied that there’s a rift between Liverpool’s owners and Rafael Benitez.

But the American co-owner has refused to promise a multi-million pound assault on the transfer market by saying they won’t spend money “like a drunken sailor”.

Benitez called on Gillett and his fellow major shareholder Tom Hicks to assist him in making the changes he felt were essential to the club in the aftermath of the Champions League final defeat AC Milan 20 days ago.

And the Spaniard called for immediate action to be taken in snapping up transfer targets in the early weeks of the summer as he reeled from the 2-1 loss in Athens.

Although no money has yet been spent on bringing in new players – and there’s no sign of the record-breaking fees needed to compete for the likes of Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o – Gillett is insistent that this hasn’t caused a problem between owners and manager.

“I read that Rafa (Benitez) is throwing hand grenades at us and making demands,” said Gillett. “That there's a tension or disagreement between him and the Gillett and Hicks families – but nothing could be further from the truth.

“As far back as February, Rafa laid out a program for us and each one of our sports businesses has a core concept.

“You can’t just flop around looking at opportunities here and there, go left, go right. It has to be part of an integrated plan.

“We have one at Liverpool, as we have with the Montreal Canadiens, one we understand 100%, believe in and support.

“The plan involves us spending money, but it will be part of a plan, not just spending like a drunken sailor.

“It’s about partnership, teamwork and communication. It’s not all about money.”

Gillett’s script has barely changed since he and Hicks first announced themselves on the Anfield scene in February and guarded against promising big-spending to take Liverpool back to the top of English football.

The duo were wary of suggestions that they had the financial clout to compete with Manchester United and Chelsea, particularly with the building of a new stadium at Stanley Park to factor in.

But Hicks last week insisted that new signings were imminent and, following Benitez’s post-match Champions League final outburst, they contacted the Spaniard to assure him he would be given the tools to carry out the repair work he wanted to.

While the type of fee to prise Eto’o away from Barcelona may be beyond him, Benitez is still keeping an eye on La Liga to identify potential new faces as the Spanish League season reaches its climax this weekend

Real Zaragoza’s Argentinian forward Diego Milito and Villarreal’s former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan were linked with a move over the weekend, but agreeing a fee with Lyon for Florent Malouda remains a priority.

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