Inter confirm Benitez dismissal
Rafael Benitez has been sacked by Inter Milan, ending days of speculation about his future.
Benitez had been under heavy pressure after the side slumped to seventh in Serie A and, although the Club World Cup success this month appeared to have handed him a reprieve, he issued an ultimatum to president Massimo Moratti in the aftermath demanding backing in the transfer market.
"I'm sorry the relationship with Benitez is over," Moratti said. "But the split had become inevitable.''
The Inter president added in Gazzetta Dello Sport: ''Maybe I was not very satisfied, regardless of the statements (from Benitez), up to the success in the Club World Cup, but then after the statements of the coach I no longer had any desire or patience to get on with it. If he had not made those statements would he have remained? I don't know.''
Benitez, who left Liverpool in the summer after a disappointing season in the Premier League and Champions League, was handed the task of succeeding Jose Mourinho after their Treble-winning season.
His reign began badly, losing the European Super Cup to Atletico Madrid, and the side were never able to replicate the form of the previous season. Inter finished second, behind Tottenham, in their Champions League group, leading to a meeting with last season's beaten finalists Bayern Munich in the next round.
Following his ultimatum, reports surfaced at the start of the week that Moratti had moved to axe the coach, but it was not until Thursday morning that the decision was officially confirmed.
A club statement read: "Inter Milan and Rafael Benitez can announce that they have reached a mutually satisfactory agreement for the early termination of his contract. Inter thank Rafael Benitez for his work in leading his team to success in the Italian Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup."
Despite his time at the San Siro turning sour so quickly, Benitez claims he does not bear a grudge against his former employers.
"I want to thank everyone for the support received during my experience at Inter,'' Benitez told ANSA. "I want to thank personally and on behalf of my staff, players, employees of the club and fans who have placed their trust in us. The two titles we won were the result of the commitment of all those who have been on our side, maintaining the basic principles of professionalism, education, respect and dedication to the club.
"Regardless of the sadness that is natural when you leave a big club like Inter, we take with us the joy of the memories of the fans who welcomed us after winning the Club World Cup. I would also like to greet the players, staff and employees who, because of the holiday period, I can personally greet in the coming days. I wish all of them, as well as the club and the fans, the greatest sporting success for the future.
"Finally, it is incumbent on my part to thank president Massimo Moratti for choosing me as coach.''
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, dismissed by Moratti after winning his third successive Serie A title in 2008, earlier on Thursday said he believes Benitez has been harshly treated.
"The difference is that I was at the club for four years," he told La Stampa. "Benitez will have been there for six months if it's true that he is being sacked.
"As a colleague, I am sorry for him. Despite the problems Rafa's had, he's won the Italian Super Cup and the Club World Cup and I am sure that Inter will re-enter the title race.
"They weren't doing badly, but then again neither was I and that year we won the Scudetto again."
Benitez has been on holiday in Liverpool in recent days, leading to speculation he could return to Anfield, although Roy Hodgson believes that is unlikely.
"It would be surprising," he said. "If he was the right man for the job then it would have been wiser not to let him go and then bring him back.
"This job will always have lots of people linked with it. When you occupy one of the top jobs in the country, it would be very strange if other people were not linked with your job. I'm sure there are people who are very envious of my position and would very much like to take my place."