It’s no secret that Rafael Benitez didn’t get on with Liverpool’s soccerball-loving owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. But following his departure in June, Benitez has been fairly quiet on the relationship he had with his former employers. Today, however, he criticised Hicks and Gillett, claiming they “knew nothing about soccer” (I can only assume he means ‘football’). The Spaniard said:
“The last year at Liverpool I had directors who knew nothing about soccer and you couldn’t talk about soccer with them.”
Benitez’s performance under the Hicks/Gillett ownership deteriorated considerably since their February 2007 takeover. Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005 under Benitez, followed by the F.A. Cup the following season. They reached the Champions League final once again in 2006-07, the first season of the Hicks/Gillett era, this time narrowly losing out the A.C. Milan. The next two seasons, under the Americans’ control, were fairly average, but Liverpool’s financial predicament was clear last season, selling Xabi Alonso for £30million and finishing 7th. Roy Hodgson may be finding out just what he’s signed up for.
It’s quite telling, in fact, that Inter were prepared to take on Benitez. Inter won the treble last season, and yet took on an under-fire manager who had just finished 7th with Liverpool, their joint-worst since 1994. It suggests that Inter recognise that the problem on Merseyside didn’t lie with their manager. Benitez appears to be getting on much better with the powers-that-be at his new club. Talking about Inter president Massimo Moratti, he claimed:
“He is a man who knows football. He might get angry when the team doesn’t win and this is normal, but at least you can talk football with him.”
If Roy Hodgson is looking for a debate over the merits of zonal marking, he might want to keep it out of the boardroom.
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