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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Reds row escalates as owners hit back at Rafa

Liverpool's American owners have again pointed out that they do not intend to discuss future transfer targets with manager Rafael Benitez until mid-December.

Co-owner Tom Hicks last week told Benitez to 'quit talking' and concentrate on coaching after the Spaniard publicly revealed frustrations at a lack of progress in planning for January recruitment.

Yet Benitez again alluded to his desire to make headway well in advance of the opening of the transfer window after Saturday's victory at Newcastle and suggested Hicks and partner George Gillett did not understand the football transfer market.

Hicks and Gillett, however, seem equally defiant and say they will not be discussing future funding until they next travel to Liverpool for the Premier League clash with Manchester United on December 16.

A statement posted on the club's official website, www.liverpoolfc.tv, on Sunday evening read: 'Despite speculation in today's newspapers, there is nothing new to say.

'We had a good win yesterday and have got some very important games coming up starting with Porto on Wednesday, followed by Bolton and Reading, before Marseille and Manchester United in a few weeks.

'Both of us, together with chief executive Rick Parry, plan to meet with Rafa when we come over mid December to make decisions on the team's requirements at that time.'

Reports have claimed that Benitez's relationship with Hicks and Gillett has broken down and that he could soon be set to leave Anfield.

Benitez called on the pair to back him with funding in the summer and they responded, allowing the club to recruit the likes of Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun at a combined cost of around £45million.

Former Valencia boss Benitez has been in charge at Anfield since 2004 and has twice guided the club to the Champions League final, winning it in 2005. They also won the FA Cup in 2006 but the club's wait for a first title since 1990 continues.

They are currently six points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal and face a crucial Champions League group game against Porto on Wednesday, when defeat could end their hopes of reaching the last 16.