Benitez meeting offers no hints to Liverpool future
The future direction of Liverpool hasn't become any clearer after the first in a series of meetings between Rafael Benitez, chairman Martin Broughton and managing director Christian Purslow on Thursday.
Liverpool claim the meeting was "constructive and cordial'', but fans wanting confirmation over the two big variables this summer - the future of Benitez and the transfer budget - will have to wait longer for answers.
Benitez has been heavily linked with a move to Juventus but as the days progress his reign at Liverpool seems more likely to continue. The Spaniard was hoping to be given an idea of what transfer budget is likely to await him in the summer, although it is unlikely Broughton - as a non-executive director - has the authority to give definite assurances.
Benitez and some of his players have publically called for the need for significant signings if the club is to regain its status in the Premier League's top four and as regular challengers in the Champions League. It's unclear whether Benitez has the stomach for a more tempered rebuilding project at a club where he is widely blamed for the downturn in fortunes.
But as it seems improbable co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett will invest any more money, Liverpool's immediate ambitions could be determined by the potential sale of the club and the depth of the new owner's pockets.
A Liverpool spokesman said on Thursday night: "We are pleased that the first of what is intended to be a series of meetings took place today between the chairman, managing Director and the manager. The meeting was constructive and cordial. The chairman shared his views about plans for the future of the club. There was an exchange of views on issues of concern to both the board and the manager which were either addressed or to be picked up in forthcoming meetings.''
Benitez's departure appears to be becoming increasingly unlikely according to his agent Manuel Garcia Quilon, who is providing almost daily updates on the situation, although his future could still be determined by the size of the transfer kitty.
"At the moment it is more likely that Rafa will remain in England,'' he told calciomercato.it. "The aspect of investment on the team is important because Liverpool need reinforcements."
Meanwhile, Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks is angry at this week's publication of old comments from him which suggested it will take another two years to sell the club.
Reports quoted the Texan as saying he and fellow American George Gillett had been owners for three years but would not be in charge for a total of five. In a current context, that was interpreted as him claiming it would take two years to sell the club he and Gillett bought back in 2007.
However, Hicks has allegedly reacted angrily to the publication of the remarks, which he does not deny making but which were part of an interview with American magazine Sports Business Journal back in late March. The Texan has pointed out the comments were made before he and Gillett officially put the club up for sale last month.
He also clarified a quote in which he said he had paid a "terrible price'' for ownership of the club - he claims that referred to his American-based sports interests in the form of Texas Rangers baseball team and Dallas Stars ice hockey franchise.