Inter Milan are set to fire coach Rafael Benitez, but first want to slash his compensation payment according to the Italian press on Wednesday.
The Spaniard, who has struggled since becoming coach of the Italian champions six months ago, all but sealed his fate with a verbal outburst against the club’s management after winning the club World Cup in Abu Dhabi last week.
He accused his bosses of failing to support him in the transfer market and accused the players of taking their own decisions.
Inter president Massimo Moratti was reported to be furious over the remarks and wanted to fire Benitez even though the dismissal of the former Liverpool boss, who took over from Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho, could cost the club between four and eight million euros.
The Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper said that Inter had written to Benitez upbraiding him for his outburst and accusing the Spaniard of failing to meet his responsibilities as a coach possibly opening the door to a reduced compensation payment.
Despite local media suggesting the axe could fall later on Wednesday, Moratti said there would be no further immediate developments on the affair that has gripped Italy’s sporting press.
“Nothing more will happen today, I won’t be speaking to anyone else,” Moratti, who wants to hold talks with Benitez to get his explanation for last weekend’s outburst, insisted.
Moratti denied the club were investigating ways to reduce Benitez’s payoff.
“No, we are seeking to understand, this affair has become confused, it’s been very surprising, we want to analyse it.”
And in answer to the burning question of the hour, was Benitez still coach of Inter, he said: “Up to now, he is (coach)...”
According to Gazzetto dello Sport Inter are angling to replace Benitez by Brazilian Leonardo.
Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has said he is unconcerned by the presence of predecessor Rafael Benitez in Merseyside as some fans agitated for the Spaniard’s return to Anfield.
Benitez appears to be on the brink of being fired by Inter Milan - a club once managed by Hodgson - just six months after leaving Liverpool to take charge of the European champions.
This week has seen Benitez back at the house he has kept on the Wirral, near Liverpool in north-west England, since leaving the Reds and supporters plastered the gates outside that property with banners pleading for him to come back to Anfield following the club’s dismal start to the season.
Liverpool are currently ninth in the Premier League table - 12 points behind leaders and bitter rivals Manchester United.
Hodgson, who quit Premier League side Fulham to take charge at Liverpool, has so far failed to win over a significant section of the Anfield faithful but has, so far at least, retained the confidence of the club’s new American owners who took charge in October.
And the Englishman, responding to a question as to whether he felt under any extra pressure given Benitez’s return to Merseyside, replied on Wednesday: “None at all, no.”
Hodgson added it would be extraordinary were Benitez to return to the Liverpool hotseat after such a short time away.
“You’d have to ask the owners about that. It would be surprising.
“If he was the right man for the job it would have been wiser not to let him go for six months and then have to bring him back again.
“This job will always be linked with lots of people. When you are in one of the top jobs in the country it would be very strange if there were not other people being linked with my job.
“I am sure there are many people who are envious of my job and would like to take my place.”
Benitez exited Anfield in June, when former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were still in control, with a large pay-off after a seventh-place league finish.
Many of the boardroom figures with whom Benitez endured a torrid relationship have since left the club.
Hicks and Gillett were replaced by John Henry and Tom Werner, whose New England Sports Ventures completed a £300 million ($462 million) buy-out in October.
Meanwhile Hodgson has been focusing on getting Liverpool ready for their Boxing Day (December 26) league match away to fellow north-west side Blackpool.
The Tangerines’ Bloomfield Road ground does not have undersoil and, as happened with Liverpool’s scheduled match at home to Fulham last weekend, the fixture risks being postponed with the cold weather that has hit Britain this month showing no signs of easing off.
Recent events have only strengthened Hodgson’s belief in a winter break, having seen such a system at first-hand during his lengthy managerial career in both Scandinavia and Italy.
“I come from European football where winter breaks are a necessity and for many years has been accepted as the norm,” Hodgson said.
“The insistence everyone plays all of their football month after month without a break and then spend over three months without a game I don’t understand anymore.”