x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Benitez's message in a bottle for Liverpool's departed

Rafa Benitez yesterday launched a cryptic attack on Liverpool's ousted owners and Christian Purslow, the club's managing director.

MILAN // Rafa Benitez yesterday launched a cryptic attack on Liverpool's ousted owners and Christian Purslow, the club's managing director.

Benitez, whose six-year reign as manager ended in the summer, hit out at a claim by Tom Hicks, the former co-owner, that he was largely to blame for the club making their worst start in the Premier League this season.

Hicks pointed the finger at Benitez for wasting much of the money he was given to spend during the latter half of his tenure.

But a clearly irked Benitez, speaking ahead of his Inter Milan team's Champions League tie with Tottenham Hotspur tonight, hit back and insisted the Americans were to blame, citing their appointment of Purslow in the summer of last year as the beginning of a downward spiral that ended in the Spaniard's exit.

In an outburst reminiscent of Eric Cantona's famous quote featuring seagulls and trawlers, Benitez compared events leading up to his departure to a bottle of milk.

"I prefer not to talk too much about Liverpool," said Benitez, who watched his former club's Merseyside derby defeat to Everton on Sunday which left them second bottom of the table.

"I prefer not to talk about this because I feel really sorry for the fans. I was watching the fans and I was really sad after the defeat the other day [against Everton].

"We have a saying in Spanish, which is: 'White liquid in a bottle has to be milk'."

Benitez, who led Liverpool to second place in the Premier League in 2009 but could only manage seventh last term, added: "What does this mean? It means that after 86 points and finishing second in the league, what changed?

"The Americans, they chose a new managing director and everything changed. So, what changed?

"The managing director is involved in all the decisions: new lawyer, new chief of press, new manager, nine new players, new medical staff, new fitness coaches - they changed everything.

"At the beginning, they changed the managing director who was talking with some players, and they changed everything that we were doing in the past.

"So, if you want to ask again what was going on, it's simple: they changed something and, at the end, they changed everything.

"So, white liquid in a bottle: milk. You will know who is to blame."

Pressed further on the matter, Benitez would only say: "White liquid in a bottle. If I see John the milkman in the Wirral, where I was living, with this bottle, I'd say, 'It's milk, sure'."

* Press Association