Smiling Liverpool boss Benitez: I asked for free transfers

Goals from Steven Gerrard, who rammed the taunts of the home fans back down their throats following England's midweek disaster with a fearsome 28th-minute free-kick, Dirk Kuyt and substitute Ryan Babel were more than enough as the Magpies tamely surrendered.

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Benitez wore a satisfied smile as he set off back to Merseyside having lifted the lid on his difference of opinion with owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

The Spaniard was yesterday told to concentrate on the players he already has after voicing his frustration over the club's transfer policy approaching the January window, but after seeing his players deliver once again, he stated his case publicly.

Benitez, who pointed to the £26million he has brought back into the club in the last year, said: "It is clear Mr Hicks wants the best for the club and we want the best for the club.

"Because we have been here for a long time, we know what passion means in football in Europe.

"We know what the transfer window market means, we know what it means to sign free - and I insist free - players now. I was not asking to spend money, I was asking to do things with free players.

"They know the manager needs to manage the squad and prepare the squad for this year and for the future.

"We had a meeting the day of the Arsenal game and the meeting was really positive.

"After that meeting, something changed. I tried to explain my ideas, but they said to me 'Rafa, keep focusing on coaching and training because Rick Parry will be in charge of buying and selling players'.

"I tried to explain to them and now, it is simple: they say, 'Keep focussed and Mr Parry will keep working in the transfer market'."

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