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Benitez wants talks over Klinsmann

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has demanded showdown talks with the club's warring American co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett following weekend revelations.
AFP | By Alec Kennedy, Liverpool
UPDATED ON APR 14, 2008 08:46 AM IST

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has demanded showdown talks with the club's warring American co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett following weekend revelations.

It has been claimed by Hicks that Anfield chief executive Rick Parry played a part in attempts to offer the Spaniard's job to Jurgen Klinsmann.

Benitez, speaking after Liverpool's 3-1 victory against Blackburn Rovers at Anfield on Sunday, claimed he felt 'undermined' by Hicks's allegations in several British Sunday newspapers which related to talks with former Germany striker and manager Klinsmann in California in November.

Hicks last week called for Parry to resign as chief executive as the bitter boardroom war at Anfield escalated.

And the chances of Liverpool's co-owners, Benitez and Parry all being involved at Anfield come the start of next season appear slim, judging by the manager's latest comments.

"It was a surprise to read about some meetings (with Klinsmann)," Benitez said. "I need to talk with the board and clarify the situation and I want to do that as soon as possible.

"I was surprised with the people that were in the meeting," the Spanish boss added. "It's not the first time I knew about the meeting, but about the people that were in the meeting. I feel my position is being undermined by it and that is why I want to clarify the situation.

"I need to speak to all of them, preferably all at the same time. They were in a meeting together, so I need to know something more. I will ask some questions. I will talk about the meeting (before Christmas) and clarify it.

"It's important to stop all the talking and concentrate on the games. We are professionals and we know we need to be focused on the football.

"We will try to do this," the former Valencia manager, who has again led Liverpool into the semi-finals of the Champions League, added.

"The situation is not getting to the players, though. They know we need to finish in the top four and go forward in the Champions League. We must stay focused on the football."

Victory against Blackburn, earned by goals from Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Andriy Voronin, with Roque Santa Cruz scoring late on for Rovers, moved Liverpool five points clear of Everton in the race for fourth spot in the Premier League and the Champions League spot that goes with it.

Benitez admitted his team must now quickly seal their position in order to boost their chances of winning this season's Champions League.

"The Champions League is always a distraction so it's important to win the league games as soon as possible," Benitez explained. "We have a five-point lead over Everton and that's really important.

"Our job is to go to Fulham on Saturday and get the three points because that will mean it is almost done for us."

Blackburn posed Liverpool little threat and manager Mark Hughes, previously in charge of Wales, conceded his team were beaten by the better side.

"I was impressed by Liverpool's work-rate and the amount of work that individuals put in for the team cause," said the former Manchester United and Wales striker.

"We didn't quite have enough but Liverpool at this moment in time are a very good team, working hard for each other and playing with confidence so it was always a big ask."

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