Is Rafa Benitez heading for a Keegan-style breakdown?
He would love it if Fergie stopped criticising refs! Love it!
Liverpool are sitting pretty three points clear of the table ahead of this weekend’s games, but the pressure to stay at the top seems to getting to Mr Benitez. We all know he’s as mad as a box of frogs, but we’ve never seen him get quite as worked up as he did in a press conference earlier today.
Rather than talk about the upcoming Stoke game, Rafa chose to lay into Sir Alex, even suggesting that the powers that be should let Fergie write the fixture list to stop him complaining about it.
Benitez started his rant by condemning Ferguson’s lack of respect for referees:
“I want to talk about facts. I want to be clear, I do not want to play mind games too early, although they seem to want to start.
“During the Respect campaign – and this is a fact – Mr Ferguson was charged by the FA for improper conduct after comments made about Martin Atkinson and Keith Hackett.
“He was not punished. He is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things.
“How can you talk about the Respect campaign and yet criticise the referee every single week?
“We know what happens every time we go to Old Trafford and the United staff. They are always going man-to-man with the referees, especially at half-time when they walk close to the referees and they are talking and talking.
“All managers need to know is that only Mr Ferguson can talk about the fixtures, can talk about referees – and nothing happens.
“We need to know that I am talking about facts, not my impression. There are things that everyone can see every single week.
“To complain and to always have an advantage is not fair.”
He then went on to complain about Fergie’s complaints about fixtures:
“Two years ago we had a lot of early kick-offs away on Saturdays when United were playing on Sundays. And we didn’t say anything,” said the Reds boss.
“Now he is complaining about everything, that everybody is against United. But the second half of the season will see them playing at home against all the teams at the top of the table, it is a fantastic advantage.
“At Christmas, United played on the 29th and the rest of the teams played on the 28th. We were away against Newcastle two days after playing Bolton. They were playing about 40 hours later, but they were not complaining then.
“If he wants to talk about fixtures, and have a level playing field, there are two options if we don’t want more problems with fixtures.
“One is the same as in Spain, the draw for the first part of the league is known, everyone knows which weekend. In the second half everyone plays the opposite, so you all know.
“Sky and Setanta have the right to choose their games and it will be the same for everyone. So Mr Ferguson will not be complaining about fixtures and a campaign against United.
“Or there is another option. That Mr Ferguson organises the fixtures in his office and sends it to us and everyone will know and cannot complain. That is simple.”
Ferguson hasn’t infuriated a manager this much in over a decade, when Kevin Keegan infamously cracked up live on television during the 1996/97 campaign. Has Rafa become the latest casualty of mindgame-itis? Let us know what you think below…