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By ESPN Staff
Feb 8, 2007

Benitez impressed with new Reds owners

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes the club's new American owners have 'a clear idea' of how to make the Reds bigger and better.

The Spaniard met with George Gillett and Tom Hicks yesterday and, following their £470million buy-out of the club, he has backed them to help Liverpool challenge Manchester United and Chelsea for the Premiership title.

'We spoke a lot about the future of the club, and by the end I was very happy with what the people said. I was convinced they want the best for the club,' Benitez said.

'We spoke about bringing through young players for the future from the academy, and how we can sign players for the present.

'They have a clear idea what we can achieve. It was not a meeting where we discussed how much we will spend on transfers or where we were promised £100m. To be a successful club, it is not just about spending a lot of money on new players.'

Gillett and Hicks both returned to North America yesterday, as their respective NHL franchises - the Montreal Canadiens and the Dallas Stars - were in action.

Hicks also owns Major League Baseball team the Texas Rangers and Benitez believes their sporting pedigree is good news for Liverpool.

'They are successful businessmen and they realise the real business of a football club is the business of the first team,' he added.

'We need a strong first team to make the stadium successful and for all other areas of the club to perform well.

'They recognised they need to change a lot of things. There are some aspects of Liverpool which must also remain the same, but it's clear where we can improve. This is a club which has a great history, but also has a great potential.'

Benitez, who won the European Cup in his first season at Anfield, paid tribute to outgoing chairman David Moores, who will remain at the Reds as honorary life president.

'I want to say thank you to David Moores,' he told the club's official website.

'Thank you for the support you have given me since I came to Liverpool. Thank you for bringing me to Liverpool, and thank you for everything you have done for the club.

'It was not an easy decision for him to sell Liverpool, but he has shown he is a good person and a nice person.

'I'm happy he still has a role to play in the future and hope we can share more success together in the future.'

As the dust settles on the takeover, it is expected that the Football Association's chief executive, lifelong Liverpool fan Brian Barwick, will meet with Gillett and Hicks in the near future.

Barwick has met with the Glazer family and new West Ham chairman Eggert Magnusson in the past and told the Liverpool Echo last week: 'I am sure at some stage I will be able to offer the same invite to whoever eventually invests in Liverpool.

'Liverpool FC is something very precious to me and I have never made any apology for the fact that part of my upbringing has been to support a team.'

Barwick added: 'Foreign ownership is an issue that excites an emotional response.

'Football clubs are not passive. They are a big part of peoples' lives and they make a lot of peoples' lives tick.

'However the reality of the situation in which we live is that nationality is not something that we discriminate on. We have tests about whether people are fit and proper.'