Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was on Wednesday due to undergo a third operation for a kidney stone complaint.
However, the 48-year-old Spaniard hopes to be back in full charge in time for next week’s league and FA Cup derby double against Everton.
Benitez last underwent surgery in December and he has since watched the Premier League leaders’ matches from the directors’ box.
Assistant manager Sammy Lee, who will oversee the team’s preparations in Benitez’s absence, told Liverpool’s official website: “It’s a difficult time for him because, you know Rafa Benitez – all he wants to do is be out there on the training pitch with his players. That’s his forte. But he’s still buoyant. “He’s going for the third operation but we’re hoping it won’t keep him out for too long – hopefully just a couple of days.”
Benitez has recently been involved in a series of verbal spats with title rivals Manchester United.
Before the latest round of league matches, he accused Old Trafford counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson of hypocrisy and of bullying officials.
“He is obviously disturbed about something,” Ferguson said after watching his English, European and world champions thump title rivals Chelsea 3-0 — a day after Liverpool could manage only a goalless draw with Stoke.
“When he reflects on it he must realise what a ridiculous thing he is saying,” added the Scot, whose team are now just five points behind Liverpool with two games in hand.
But Benitez, far from being cowed into silence by those results, broadened his attack on Monday to criticise United chief executive David Gill for a perceived conflict of interest because of the role has also has within the Football Association, the English game’s governing body.
However Gill, who was in Macau on Wednesday to launch United’s 2009 tour of Asia, which will take them to China, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia, said Benitez “has missed the boat completely”.
Gill dismissed the Liverpool manager’s comments as “pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things”.
He said he acts on behalf of the 20 Premier League teams, not just United, in his role at the FA.
Phil Gartside, chairman of Bolton Wanderers, and Premier League chairman Dave Richards also sit on the association’s board.
“I was elected over the summer by the Premier League clubs. I’m very clear in my role,” Gill told reporters.
“I think it is totally incorrect to assert that,” Gill added, referring to the conflict-of-interest accusation.
“It’s not how I work. I do not think I would have been elected for the last two years if that was the case… He (Benitez) missed the boat completely.”
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!