Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hicks : Rafa not to decide transfers

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has shared his thoughts on Rafael Benitez’s contract renewal, and had some interesting things to declare.

Liverpool gaffer Rafael Benitez’s contract renewal was one of the most protracted sagas in English football this season.
The British media speculated that this was largely down to a power tug-of-war between the board and the management, with ‘Rafa’ allegedly keen to have the responsibilities of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger replicated in his role at Anfield.
The story finally came to a close yesterday as Benitez committed to a five year deal.
Tom Hicks, in his distinctively mild Texan brogue, today spoke to Sky Sports News of his relief at finalising Benitez’s contract extension, adding that he was always confident the Spaniard would sign. He also went on to reveal some of the intricacies of the new deal.
“I mentioned a couple of months ago that I was never worried whether he would sign,” Hicks began. “He has such a passion for Liverpool [the city] and the club in general. I looked in his eyes and knew. A five-year contract is a complicated matter, but it is a relief to have it done, especially after such a great week on the pitch.”
Regarding the power struggle, in which Benitez reportedly wanted a greater say in transfer activities, Hicks said, “The fight talk was in the media - that was never true. Rafa knows he’s the manager but he cannot have control over the transfers. He had his frustrations over the last five years and everything has been well chronicled.”
Hicks continued, “He will make transfer recommendations over which players we sign. The CEO, the owners and the board will be the ones that make the final decision and the financial commitment - that’s the way it is in English football.
“Rafa has a budget which has to be respected. When we move to a new stadium there will be an increased amount of revenue, though.”
On the departure of chief executive Rick Parry this summer, Hicks said, “Rick served the club for 12 years. His heart is pure at Liverpool. We appreciate his help but we hope the new CEO will communicate more effectively with Rafa and the owners. I feel very good about which direction the club is now going.
“We will take our time in recruiting. It may take six months, but while we are looking we will continue to expand our Liverpool brand in places like Asia, together with maintaining our winning ways.”
On the club’s current standing in the Premier League, Hicks mentioned, “We are competing, for the first time in a long time, in the Premier League. There have been missed opportunities to gain points, so clearly we need further depth.”
Since the winter transfer window was slammed shut, Liverpool have been linked with a host of players that the press believe the club could pursue in the summer.
They include Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry, Middlesbrough flanker Stewart Downing and Fulham’s dominating centre-back Brede Hangeland.

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