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Benitez leaves Liverpool by mutual consent

June 4th, 2010 No comments

phpwABNkGLiverpool have announced manager Rafael Benitez has left the club by mutual consent after six years in charge.

Benitez, 50, replaced Gerard Houllier as Liverpool manager in June 2004 and guided them to Champions League and FA Cup success the following two seasons.

But last season they made an early exit from the Champions League and finished only seventh in the Premier League.

Managing director Christian Purslow and former manager Kenny Dalglish are to begin the search for a replacement.

The club said there is no timeframe for an appointment and they will make no further comment until a new manager has been installed.
Benitez, who had four years of his five-year contract to run, finalised his departure after agreeing a severance payment and said he was “extremely sad” to be leaving the club.

“I’ll always keep in my heart the good times I’ve had here, the strong and loyal support of the fans in the tough times and the love from Liverpool,” he told the club’s website.

“I have no words to thank you enough for all these years and I am very proud to say that I was your manager.

“Thank you so much once more and always remember: You’ll never walk alone.”

Recently appointed club chairman Martin Broughton thanked Benitez for his efforts, but said it was time for a new era.

“Rafa will forever be part of Liverpool folklore after bringing home the Champions League following the epic final [against AC Milan] in Istanbul but after a disappointing season both parties felt a fresh start would be best for all concerned,” he said.
Former Valencia coach Benitez had been linked with Real Madrid and Juventus in recent months, but with both those clubs now having new men in charge he could be in the running to fill the vacant position at European champions Inter Milan following the departure of Jose Mourinho.

One thing that could delay the appointment of a permanent successor to Benitez at Anfield is the uncertainty over the club’s future ownership.

Liverpool are £351m in debt and were put up for sale by co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett earlier this year.

The American pair’s ownership of the Reds has been a long-running source of discontent for many fans, who are unhappy with the way the club is being run, and there have been regular protests and public disputes.

Benitez had a fractious relationship with the pair, who admitted sounding out former Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann about the possibility of him taking over from Benitez at the end of 2007, when they feared the Spaniard could leave the club. Read more…

Inter Milan join the chase for £70m Fernando Torres

June 1st, 2010 No comments

phpH3wwLWInter Milan are lining up a move for Liverpool striker Fernando Torres should Jose Mourinho lure Diego Milito or Samuel Eto’o to Real Madrid, according to reports in Italy.

The European champions lost boss Mourinho to the Bernabeu this week and are bracing themselves for bids for forwards Eto’o and Milito, who scored twice as Inter beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.

But the Italian giants are set to move for unsettled Spain hotshot Torres, whose future at Anfield is uncertain following the club’s disappointing season, which resulted in a failure to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition.

Chelsea are also lining up a £70million bid for Torres, who is also wanted by mega-bucks Manchester City. But the Eastlands club are now unlikely to move for the star as their failure also to reach the Champions League makes it unlikely the striker would consider a move to Manchester.

Torres fuelled speculation surrounding his future last week when he refused to commit to Liverpool, insisting that he was focusing on a summer with Spain before deciding on his future. He said: ‘The more important thing for me now is the World Cup. My future is the World Cup, We’ll see later.’

Inter look set to join the race for his signature, but would be unlikely to bid should they convince Milito or Eto’o to stay at the San Siro. Mourinho is said to be lining up a double-deal for both Milito and full-back Maicon, but could fall back on Eto’o if the Argentina forward is unavailable.

Torres: If Rafa Benitez is too slow, I’ll leave Liverpool

May 7th, 2010 No comments

php6PsMpLFernando Torres was anxiously awaiting news of Rafa Benitez’s meeting with
Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton last night after deciding he wants his uncertain Anfield future resolved in the next week.

Liverpool’s record £21million signing is in demand after it became clear Anfield bosses may have to cash in on him, with Chelsea, Manchester City and Barcelona all waiting for any encouragement to open a bidding war that could send the fee soaring to £70m.

While Benitez presented his argument to Broughton over why any proceeds should go towards strengthening his squad, rather than servicing the club’s debt, Torres was agonising over his next move.

Alarmed at the way Liverpool’s campaign has petered out and left them lagging behind their main rivals, he wants answers on whether Benitez is staying and evidence of a strategy to guard against any repeat of this season’s failings.

Eager to avoid any unwanted distractions ahead of next month’s World Cup, he has made it clear he needs to know Liverpool’s intentions before he leaves Merseyside next week, in readiness for linking up with the Spain squad. He may be prepared to tolerate one more season without Champions League football but is ready to move on, should Liverpool deem a £70m offer too good to turn down. Read more…

Forlan strike won Atletico 1-0 over Liverpool

April 23rd, 2010 No comments

phpd6BDV9Former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan earned Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win over Liverpool in their Europa League semi-final first leg. Forlan hit a scrappy winner in only the ninth minute on Thursday night - but the tie is far from over and even without an away goal, Rafael Benitez’s side will be optimistic of overturning the result at Anfield next week.

The Reds missed their injured striker Fernando Torres almost as much as the former darling of the Vicente Calderon missed the chance to face his old club, having also been denied that opportunity in the Champions League last season because of more fitness problems.

Benitez had insisted the 1,200-mile journey by coach, train and eventually plane - after UEFA’s insistence the match go ahead despite the volcanic ash cloud which grounded flights across Europe - had brought his squad closer together.

If only his defence had been tighter-knit in the ninth minute then they may not have conceded.

No one will ever really know whether their exertions in getting to the Spanish capital had an effect but it was a sloppy piece of marking which cost them. Read more…

Torres ruled out for the season

April 19th, 2010 No comments

7722892Fernando Torres has been ruled out for the season after it was confirmed he would undergo knee surgery.
The procedure will rule the 26-year-old out of action for around six weeks, meaning he will miss not only the Barclays Premier League run in but also the remainder of the club’s Europa League campaign, which continues this week with a semi-final against Torres’ former club Atletico Madrid.
A Liverpool spokesman told the club’s official website: “Fernando saw a specialist in Spain earlier today and it was decided that he would need surgery on a torn cartilage in his right knee.
“This will be carried out later tonight.
“We cannot comment ahead of the operation, but as a guide, the usual rehabilitation period for this type of procedure is around six weeks.”
The news will also cast a shadow over Spain’s preparations for the World Cup, with Torres a key element of the European champions’ set-up for the tournament which gets under way in just over seven weeks. Read more…

Rafa linked to Juventus

April 16th, 2010 No comments

phpg4vbMSThe Turin giants have courted Benitez since sacking Ciro Ferrera in January, with current chief Alberto Zaccheroni in charge only until the end of the season.

Insiders continue to insist Juve have met Benitez’ representatives and want a definite commitment by the end of next week, despite denials from the Kop chief’s camp.

But Juve’s chances of landing him would be severely compromised if they fail to reach Europe’s premier competition with the financial jackpot that brings.

Juve, sixth in Serie A, last summer used a hefty slice of NEXT season’s budget to bring in Brazilian duo Felipe Melo and Diego for a combined near £50million.

But that backfired as they failed to have the desired impact and there is growing turmoil at the club.

Bringing in Benitez, plus a couple of his backroom team and top stars, would cost around £100m, stretching Juve to breaking point.

That means a place in the Champions League is essential if they are to finance a rebuilding campaign.

Failure to do so would mean the Agnelli family, which owns the club, having to pump in a fortune. Read more…

Torres bring Liverpool to the semi finals

April 9th, 2010 No comments

phprzb2E0Liverpool’s  players must sometimes wake up and wonder just how a season that began with such promise has reached the home straight with them playing in the Europa League. When all is said and done, it remains Europe’s second-rate competition.

Nevertheless, Rafael Benitez and his improving team have set about their quest for a consolation prize with admirable zeal in recent weeks and last night’s defeat of Benfica has now made them clear favourites to lift the trophy in Hamburg next month.

For all that they have laboured this season, Benitez’s players have recently shown flashes of the football of which they are capable. It has come far too late to rescue their Barclays Premier League hopes, of course. The team will be hard pushed to finish fourth.

But in Europe they have found a little of their true selves and at a capacity Anfield last night they advanced to a semi-final date with Atletico Madrid on the back of some expansive attacking football.

Victory didn’t come without some anxiety, of course. It seems to be the way with English teams in European competition of late.

Unlike neighbours Manchester United the night before, Liverpool’s carelessness in conceding a goal with 20 minutes left did not lead to the calamity that for a while looked possible as Benfica pressed forwards late in the game. Read more…

Raffa kick Riera to Spartak Moscow

March 23rd, 2010 No comments

php12JqTmRafael Benitez remains determined to offload Albert Riera and has lined up a deal to sell him to Spartak Moscow by the end of the week.

As reports in Italy yesterday suggested Benitez’s days at Anfield are also numbered, the Liverpool boss responded to criticism from Riera and the winger’s recent bust-up with a reserve-team player by seeking to push through a quick sale.

Riera returns to training at Melwood today after he was banned from the club on Thursday for describing Liverpool as a ‘sinking ship’ in an interview with a Spanish radio station and claiming that Benitez refused to speak to him.

The Liverpool boss has been keen to offload Riera for some time and now hopes to take advantage of Russia’s transfer deadline being extended until April 8 to try and recoup the £6m he paid Espanyol in the summer of 2008.

A move to Moscow might also appeal to the unsettled Riera whose wife Yulia Koroleva is from Russia. However, it is a problem Benitez could do without as he tries to revive Liverpool’s bid for a top-four place following Sunday’s defeat at Manchester United.

Although Jamie Carragher insisted yesterday that Liverpool can still finish above Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa, the latest blow to Benitez’s hopes of claiming a Champions League berth has increased speculation over his future on Merseyside. Read more…

Liverpool 3-1 Lile

March 19th, 2010 No comments

 noneFernando Torres scored twice to help Liverpool keep their season alive by reaching the Europa League quarter-finals with a battling win over Lille.

The Reds started perfectly with a Steven Gerrard penalty on eight minutes after Lucas was felled by Adil Rami following a fine run past four players.

Eden Hazard was denied an equaliser by a smart Pepe Reina save, but Torres chipped in the second after the break.

The Spaniard settled the tie by poking home following Gerrard’s rasping shot.

It was an impressive result against an in-form French outfit and gave England a second team in the Europa League last eight following Fulham’s earlier surprise win over Juventus.

European progression in front of the Anfield faithful was crucial to help salvage the season for a team without a trophy since their FA Cup triumph in 2006. Read more…

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