Rafael Benitez has hit out at former Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett in his new book, ‘Champions League Dreams’, claiming the pair caused the financial problems that saw them fail to land Fiorentina star Stefan Jovetic.
The Spanish coach also asserts the owners required him to be “a bank manager rather than a football manager” and cites the lack of funds made available for the Jovetic move as the principle reason for failing to challenge Manchester United’s domestic dominance.
In his new book, Benitez states: “Attempting to work in the transfer market that summer was almost impossible.
“We knew we would need cover and support for Fernando Torres, as David Ngog was still developing, and we had raised the cash to find it.
“The player we identified to fill that role was Stevan Jovetic, a young Montenegro forward playing for Fiorentina in Italy.
“The funds we thought we had available would also have stretched to another central defender, to provide cover for Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger.
“The two players we had identified were Sylvain Distin, then with Portsmouth, and West Ham’s Matthew Upson, both boasting abundant Premier League experience.
“Signing one of those two, plus the tall, powerful, intelligent Jovetic, would have given Liverpool the squad we needed to build on the previous year’s title challenge, when we had run Manchester United so close.”
Unfortunately for Benitez and Liverpool, it soon materialised that the funds thought to be available had been used elsewhere within the club, without the manager’s approval or knowledge.
“Liverpool, though, was no longer a football club,” he added. “It was a business.
“The money, which we wanted to use to take Liverpool on to the next level, was all gone.
“We would be punished for the disappearance of that money – and our failure to sign Jovetic – again and again that season.
“That was supposed to be our year, the season it all came together. Instead it was a long, hard campaign, a battle from start to finish.”
And with the club’s financial decisions being made to mollify the banks, Benitez argues he had become more bank manager than football manager.
“For five years I had been a football manager at Liverpool,” he continued. “By the start of my sixth, it was clear I had become something else entirely. I was suddenly supposed to be a bank manager.
“Decisions were being made to appease the banks, not the fans. That is how serious the situation with the owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, had become.”