Benitez seeks contract decision
Seeking contract conclusion (Gallo Images)
Liverpool - Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez admitted on Monday that he is concerned the ongoing talks over his new contract are disrupting the club's title challenge.
Liverpool lie second in the Premiership table, but their form has stuttered over the past six weeks, coinciding with a public spat over Benitez's future.
Benitez's contract expires in 2010. He was believed to have demanded complete control over transfer policy, something he now denies.
"Anyone that has just a year left on his contract does not have anything at all and I have only got a year and a half left," Benitez told The Guardian.
"When people, either within the club or from outside it, realise that the manager only has that much time left then he is dead.
"I've got 10 or 12 assistants whose contracts are up in June. How can a manager lead a project properly if the continuity of his staff is not secure for two or three years?
"I would like to clear one thing up - I never asked for complete control.
"I did, however, ask for the power to be able to make my own decisions and run the team the way I see fit. That is not the same thing."
This may be seen as Benitez softening his stance in reaction to recent events at Real Madrid.
It was widely believed that Benitez would be offered the Madrid job in the summer by club president Ramon Calderon.
But Calderon was forced to stand down last month after allegations of vote-rigging in a club election, leaving Benitez without his easy escape route.
"I am not thinking about leaving and I hope to be here for a long time but of course Real Madrid would be the perfect ending to anyone's career," Benitez said.
"But my career is not at an end yet."