Heighway launch attack on Liverpool boss Benitez

Heighway has been academy coach at Liverpool for 19 years and have groomed players such as Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen.

He told The Times: “Rafa is a terrific manager, tactically astute with qualities I really admire. In my view, I’m the best coach of 17 and 18-year-old players in this club. But I no longer get the chance to do that. That’s crazy, that’s mad; it’s to the detriment of the young players at this club. If they are not working with the best coach of young players, then what is this football club doing? It’s not an ego thing, but one thing I am absolutely sure about is that the best thing for the players is to be with me.

“My influence is being taken away too soon over the best players and I’m not convinced that what they are going to do is better for them. Last summer Rafa called me when I was in America and told me he wanted five players to go to the reserve-team squad, but he never asked me my view. He just told me, ‘These are the five I want.’ So my whole role has been totally undermined.

“Maybe because I have a brain and a mind, maybe that counts against you. I have never been asked by the manager which players I think are the best players. His staff watch the players and his staff make the decisions.”