x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Football notebook: Benitez takes swipe at Liverpool owners

His relationship with the club's American owners was always strained and he has now criticised them and other officials for their lack of knowledge about the sport.

Rafael Benitez has hit out at the Liverpool hierarchy, claiming they "understand nothing about football". The Spaniard, who left Liverpool in the summer to take over as head coach at Inter Milan, spent his last two seasons at Anfield dealing with in-fighting and internal politics. His relationship with Tom Hicks and George Gillett, the club's American owners, was always strained throughout and he has now criticised them and other high-ranking officials for their lack of knowledge about the sport. Asked about his relationship with Massimo Moratti, the Inter president, he told the club's website: "It's good. 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 about football with him. In my last year at Liverpool I had [club] executives who understood nothing about football and you couldn't talk to them about football," he added."You can with Moratti."

Cesc Fabregas, the Arsenal captain, will be out for up to three weeks with a hamstring injury, the club announced on their website yesterday. The Spanish midfielder picked up the injury shortly after scoring in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Sunderland and was quickly substituted. Meanwhile Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has accepted a charge of improper conduct by the English Football Association (FA) and will serve a one-match ban. The Frenchman was charged by the FA after making contact with the fourth official after his team conceded a late equaliser in Saturday's draw at the Stadium of Light. Under the new fast-track disciplinary procedures, Wenger will be fined £8,000 (Dh45,678) and served his touchline ban during last night's Carling Cup third-round match against their bitter north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Roberto Mancini has warned any potential suitors they will not get Shay Given on the cheap. Given is set to make his first appearance of the season in goal in tonight's Carling Cup tie at West Bromwich Albion, just three days after Mancini, the manager, confirmed he could leave in January. The Republic of Ireland keeper has lost the No 1 spot to Joe Hart, the England international, and is likely to seek pastures new in the New Year. Newcaslte United, Given's former employers, have moved to distance themselves from signing him on an emergency loan following the injury sustained by Steve Harper. However, Mancini has stepped in to confirm that Given is still wanted by City and will not be released without the buying club coming up with substantial funds. "Shay is an important player and he will cost someone a lot of money," said the Italian. "I said Shay could leave the club if he wants and we have a good option but if he stayed it would be OK for me."

Sam Allardyce, the Blackburn manager, says his comments about winning titles every year with Real Madrid or Manchester United were "tongue-in-cheek". Last week the 55-year-old said he was "not suited" to Rovers or his former club Bolton Wanderers and would "win the double or the league every time" at the likes of Real, United, Inter Milan or Chelsea. But today Allardyce insisted that although he was ambitious, his comments had not been serious and he was pleased to be working at Ewood Park. "I didn't think it would create quite as big a stir as it has done," Allardyce said. "It was a tongue-in-cheek comment. Somebody asked me if I had found my level and was comfortable as manager at Blackburn Rovers. I'm never comfortable as a manager because I am always looking to improve."