x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Benitez denies being sacked by Inter Milan

Rumours of the Inter Milan coach on his way out were gaining ground after he issued an ultimatum to the club's management over new signings.

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti, left, and Rafa Benitez have differences of opinion cropping up.
Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti, left, and Rafa Benitez have differences of opinion cropping up.

Rafael Benitez last night denied suggestions he has been sacked by Inter Milan and re-iterated his demand Massimo Moratti, the club president, backs him in next month’s transfer window.

Various media outlets claimed yesterday that Moratti has decided to fire the Spanish coach over his comments following the Club World Cup final, when Benitez issued a “back me or sack me” ultimatum following the 3-0 win over TP Mazembe in Abu Dhabi.

However Benitez, who is currently on holiday in Liverpool, told the Spanish radio station Onda Cero: “I have not been sacked.

“Many people that read the newspapers today have called me up to ask me if I had been dismissed.

“It’s not true, I am surprised that it has been reported as a done thing. I am currently on holiday to rest and then to begin again.

“For months I have heard and read things that are not true.”

The Spaniard’s rant following Inter’s win on Saturday was not welcomed by Moratti but Benitez defended his position and even re-emphasised his desire for financial backing.

“The president [Moratti], with whom I had spoken prior to that press conference, had already left Abu Dhabi, and the only possibility was to publicly say something which was evident,” Benitez said. “I don’t want to put the president under pressure, but I had spoken to him in the past about my project.” He added: “The president has to take a decision regarding the line we want to follow.

“While I am here [at Inter] I will work in the best possible way in order for the team to continue to win.

“But in order to win and to do well it is necessary to bring in reinforcements.

“Injuries have hindered us and I don’t want this to happen again.

“The transfer market begins soon and hence, this is the time to speak openly about acquisitions.”

Benitez’s outspoken comments are not the only cause of speculation over his future, with results on the pitch unimpressive.

The former Liverpool manager has endured a difficult start at Inter since replacing Jose Mourinho in the summer.

Inter have been decimated by injuries and are 13 points adrift of city rivals AC Milan in the Serie A title hunt, albeit having played two games fewer than the Rossoneri. They now have a winter break and next take to the field against Napoli on January 6.

Moratti refused to answer questions regarding Benitez’s future yesterday. He said on the club’s website: “I will not speak today. I do not wish to create any controversies with anyone.”

Reports in Italy have strongly linked Luciano Spalletti, the former Roma coach, now at Zenit St Petersburg, with a return to Italy to replace Benitez.