Rafa Benitez contract row overshadows Liverpool's title ambitions

22 February 2009 01:14
The Sunday Mirror

says Benitez will leave Liverpool at the end of the season after making clear to the club's owners that he is unwilling to work under chief executive Rick Parry.

Benitez rejected a new deal because he wanted more control over transfer policy, and with Real Madrid likely to recruit a new manager in the summer, his future is far from clear.

The Sunday Mirror quotes a source close to Benitez saying: "It has been claimed that Rafa wants full power on transfers, contracts and the academy, but what he really wants is everyone at the club pulling in the same direction.

"The club are missing out on transfer targets and that contracts for players and staff are not being done because things move too slowly. Rafa had transfer targets lined up in January.

Manchester United's 2-1 victory over Blackburn has left Liverpool eight points behind the champions ahead of their game against Manchester City.

United were below their best, but Sir Alex Ferguson believes the manner of their victory shows they have the making of champions.

'When we're in a controlling position, we gave away a really bad goal and when you consider how we've defended over the past few weeks that's not indicative of our performances.

"They became very determined in the second half and put on a real show and made it a fight for us.

"Sometimes when you don't play your very best you can get a result like that and it goes some way to winning the title, hopefully."

Meanwhile, United are waiting to discover the extent of the ankle injury suffered by Jonny Evans against Rovers.

Evans faces tests on the injury later today to determine whether he will be fit to face Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Ferguson rates the Northern Ireland international "very doubtful". But he will give Evans every chance because – with Nemanja Vidic suspended, Gary Neville and Wes Brown definitely out and John O'Shea absent from United's latest win due to a heel problem picked up against Fulham – he is facing a defensive nightmare at the San Siro.

Evans missed four matches with the original injury – and since he was also set to feature in next Sunday's Carling Cup final against Tottenham, he can only hope the damage is not as bad this time.

"It is a recurrence of the ankle injury I had before and is a bit tender," he admitted.

"I caught it when I kicked the ground during the game.

"At this point, I don't know whether I will be fit for the San Siro. The doctor said he will have a look at it – and we will have a better picture then."

Source: Telegraph