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Benitez keen to concentrate on footballing matters

SoccerNews in English Premier League 18 Apr 2008

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Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez has reiterated his desire to concentrate on footballing matters rather than boardroom battles to ensure a successful run-in to the season.

He refused to discuss the ongoing ownership battle or any meetings he may have had with his bosses.

The Liverpool chief made his position clear ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to struggling Fulham and with the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea on the horizon.

Benitez had cast grave doubts about his long-term future at the club in the row over exactly who attended meetings before Christmas with Jurgen Klinsmann when the manager’s job was discussed.

Benitez demanded answers from co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, plus chief executive Rick Parry.

And a day after Hicks and Gillett again squared up to each other in a very public breakdown of their partnership, Benitez now seems much happier with his position.

Benitez said: “At this moment I have two years of my contract still to go, I am really pleased and really happy here. And I want to stay. And I want to stay for a long time.”

Asked if he had spoken to Hicks, Gillett or Parry, Benitez said: “I do not need to talk to them, I need to talk with my staff and my players.

“We have been training and all I want to talk about is the games against Fulham, and then Chelsea. We will be preparing for the games properly.”

But he also seemed relaxed about potential summer transfer funds, despite the club being unsure of who will be at the helm by then.

He said: “As far as transfer money is concerned, I cannot be sure. But we will try to do our best, the scouting staff and I know what to do and we are progressing and working on things.

“The scouts are doing a fantastic job and we are trying to progress with the targets we have.”

On the ongoing crisis, all Benitez would say was: “I want to win against Fulham, I know everyone is asking and talking about other things, but I am a professional and I want to concentrate on football.

“We need these three points to be as close to fourth place as quickly as possible.

“Things (around the club) have not been a distraction for the players. We have confidence in ourselves and we are playing well.

“That shows the strength of our squad, the quality and the character of the players.

“I feel that the players are showing they are good professionals.

“They are focused, they are concentrating on games. That is the key to our success now.”

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