09 May 2010 – 20:16:00
Rafael Benitez insists he wants to stay at Liverpool and keep Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres – but admits doubts remain about his future.
The Spaniard had his first meeting with chairman Martin Broughton, who has been brought in by co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to oversee the sale of the club, this week and another is scheduled in the next few days.
While a number of matters were discussed it is evident the pair have not yet come to an accord on what is required to take the club forward – and Benitez left the door open to a departure if he felt things were not progressing as he wanted.
“I was in a meeting with the chairman and he was talking about how positive it was and I expect to meet with him again in the next week,” said Benitez, who has been angered by newspaper reports suggesting he was prepared to sell his two prized assets in order to raise funds.
“I expect to see the chairman and keep talking with him. I showed my commitment for years (he has four years of his contract remaining).
“It would never be easy to leave this club. Every day you can read something different.
“It has always been the same situation: I decided to come here because of the fans and the club.
“I wanted to stay and I would like to stay if everything is fine.
“And IF I stay I am not thinking about selling Gerrard and Torres – just in case ’senior sources’ say different things.
“It is very clear. The chairman was clear, he doesn’t want to sell. The manager is clear, just in case you see any exclusive interviews with senior sources.”
The fact Benitez made a point of saying “if I stay” highlighted he is still not prepared to publicly commit his long-term future to the club until he is confident he has the backing he needs to improve Liverpool’s fortunes.
Whether the likes of Gerrard and Torres will want to stay themselves after a season of under-achievement remains to be seen.
At the final whistle of their goalless draw at Hull, Gerrard battled his way through Hull fans streaming on to the pitch to go over to the Liverpool supporters.
Whether that is his last goodbye remains to be seen. Even Benitez does not know what his captain and star striker have in mind.
“That is a question for them. I could read the newspapers and see if Rafa stays, maybe this player will go but if Rafa goes maybe he will still go – you cannot win,” added the Reds boss.
Hull manager Iain Dowie is another who has an important meeting to decide his future in the coming week.
The former Northern Ireland international took over from Phil Brown but failed to save the cash-strapped club from relegation.
Now he must wait to find out whether he will be given a chance to try to win promotion back to the Premier League.
“I’ll have a discussion with the chairman sometime this week and we’ll see,” he said.
“It is important the club’s financial stability is assured as quickly as it can be because there has to be massive changes to the budget.
“That is exactly what I expected because that is what it said on the tin.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here but unfortunately we’ve come up short.”