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Ferguson takes first round of long campaign

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Phil McNulty | 08:23 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

If Sir Alex Ferguson had mapped out his weekend on a sheet of A4 paper - in vogue after Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez used one as a prop to aid an attack on his Manchester United counterpart - it would have turned out exactly as his script decreed.

In Ferguson's ideal world Liverpool would have lost at Stoke City rather than earning a point, but other than that it was just about perfect from both a psychological and footballing perspective.

The 67-year-old Scot almost skipped down the Old Trafford touchline at the conclusion of a comprehensive 3-0 dismissal of Chelsea, perhaps mentally ticking off a list of jobs well done to set himself up for the crucial battles ahead.

United had shot a hole in Chelsea's title aspirations, exposing Luiz Felipe's Scolari's side as currently suffering from a chronic lack of imagination - and even more worryingly suddenly looking susceptible to the most routine cross ball.

fergie438.jpg

Ferguson's side were now back in control of their own title destiny, five points behind Liverpool but with two crucial games in hand.

And Jose Mourinho had been in close attendance in the Old Trafford directors' box to watch United impress, leaving for Italy to digest a healthy portion of food for thought ahead of his Champions League meeting with his old adversary Sir Alex.

Last - but most definitely not least - he had given the lie to Benitez's reckless assertion, in among a host of other charges, that United were "a little bit scared" to see Liverpool at the top of the league.

The manner of United's victory would not have made comfortable viewing for Benitez, and it might have hurt even more that there was almost a tone of sympathy for the Spaniard in Sir Alex Ferguson's voice as he delivered his rebuttal of the accusations made against him.

"I think he was an angry man. He was disturbed for some reason or another," said Ferguson in the bowels of Old Trafford post-victory.

What could Sir Alex possibly mean? Was it Benitez's still unsigned Anfield contract? Who knows?

It was a measured, calm Ferguson. The sort of Ferguson who knows he has just won the first round of what could be a long campaign of psychological warfare.

Ferguson is never more stoked up than when Liverpool are in his sights. It also gets the juices flowing in United's occasionally dormant followers. Old Trafford is even adorned with a "European Capital Of Trophies" banner these days, a playful (!) dig at Liverpool's recent cultural status.

One thing is certain, however, Benitez will not go quietly. I sat just a few feet away from him at Stoke on Saturday, where he was as strong in his conviction about Ferguson as he had been a day earlier.

This was no hit-and-run attack by Benitez. He will be happy to stand toe-to-toe with Ferguson for the full 12 rounds.

And United must guard against being sucked into thinking Benitez is anything other than totally convinced Liverpool can reclaim the title, despite a clear shift in momentum this weekend.

Benitez has called Ferguson and United on in the most public manner and never shirks a fight.

Just ask his previous employers at Valencia and his paymasters at Anfield, but he may just be forced to regroup slightly after United's show of force against Chelsea.

My own view is that Benitez would have been wiser to keep counsel, no matter how strong his arguments against Ferguson were. The atmosphere around Old Trafford had an extra edge on Sunday because of his attack, and it worked in United's favour.

If Benitez wanted to provoke a reaction, it was not the one he desired. United's response, and the fevered reaction to it around the stadium, was predictable.

They did not have to be at their best to beat a Chelsea side who were desperately disappointing after Nemanja Vidic gave United the lead in first half stoppage time.

Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov completed the formalities as they took advantage of the sort of slack Chelsea defending that would have had the watching "Special One" weeping into his expensive sweater.

United still have room for improvement, a fact that will warm Ferguson's heart.

Dimitar Berbatov covered up a largely innocuous display with his late goal and United are still not flowing as freely as they can. This may, however, be regarded as an ominous sign if Chelsea are put away so comfortably without United unveiling their full range of weapons.

Scolari delivered a passionate defence of his players, plus an honest assessment of Chelsea's current unsatisfactory plight, with his usual charm in his post-match inquest.

But the Brazilian has troubles and he needs to find answers before the huge hope and expectation of Chelsea's pre-season is replaced by worries for their future direction.

Chelsea have no width if their full-backs are cancelled out. If this particular Plan A fails, Scolari does not appear to have an alternative up his sleeve, especially as Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba looked ill-at-ease and poorly matched in their 45 minutes alongside each other in attack.

It was the new deficiencies that may worry Scolari even more.

If Chelsea faltered in attack, they could at least rely on the iron discipline and resolve of their rearguard, built around the twin towers of John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho.

They were re-united yesterday, but were powerless to stop United scoring three goals from balls delivered from wide. A corner, a cross and a free-kick were defended abominably and Chelsea suffered.

Chelsea is not a club known for its patience - just ask Avram Grant.

And while it would be ludicrous to ask questions about Scolari's position so early in his reign, displays like this against a team they took to a penalty shoot-out in the Champions League not so long ago will not be well received by the Stamford Bridge power-brokers.

The weekend, however, was about Ferguson. He was the big winner as he delivered blows on his closest rivals at Liverpool and Chelsea, while also finding time to unsettle Inter Milan's charismatic leader.

It is the sort of scrap football's most battle-hardened street-fighter loves. And you could see he was already preparing for the next round of hostilities as he marched from the dug-out in triumph.

Comments

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  • 1. At 09:59am on 12 Jan 2009, Parish87 wrote:

    Chelsea were shocking, and they have been for weeks. If they don't pick themselves up shortley they could find themselves battling with a very in form Villa for 3rd! Awful, awful display.

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  • 2. At 10:02am on 12 Jan 2009, manucastle wrote:

    Fafa's rant worked in united's favour. The ref was so scared, he started giving all decisions in united favour. I man 5 yellows for Chelsea and only 3 for United? FSW rafa should ask for an enquiry..

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  • 3. At 10:04am on 12 Jan 2009, WordsofWisdom wrote:

    Regarding: "And United must guard against being sucked into thinking Benitez is anything other than totally convinced Liverpool can reclaim the title, despite a clear shift in momentum this weekend."

    In case nobody has noticed the 'shift in momentum' started long before this weekend. Liverpool have won 3 and drawn 5 of their last 8 matches. 4 of those draws they were expected to win. That's 14 points out of 24.

    Utd. have won 6 and drawn 2 of their last 8 (20 points from 24) and the draws away to Spurs and Villa were in relatively difficult games.

    That is now what can reasonably be called a trend. The momentum is all with Utd.

    Benitez may be convined that Liverpool can win the title but not many others are.



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  • 4. At 10:07am on 12 Jan 2009, Parish87 wrote:

    Chelsea were shocking, and they have been for weeks. If they don't pick themselves up shortly they could find themselves battling with a very in form Villa for 3rd! Awful, awful display.

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  • 5. At 10:15am on 12 Jan 2009, philtoon82 wrote:

    Easy win for Man Utd yesterday, Chelsea just simply werent at the races. i can see chelsea turing it around still, there is too much quality in their squad for the current bad form to continue for too long.

    As for Benitez's so called rant, i cant see how him pointing out things that a blatanly obvious to everyone (fergie's hold over refs and the FA) in a calm manner to the press can be seen as a rant. Good on him to have the guts to come out and say it. I also think its daft that as soon as Fergie comes out and has a pop at a rival manager that the press straight away say that Fergie is up to his 'mind games' whereas as soon as the other manager gives his view/response then the press say that he has 'lost it' and that fergie has won the battle of the mind games. what a load of rubbish.

    and by the way, as my username suggests i am not a liverpool fan

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  • 6. At 10:16am on 12 Jan 2009, radiskilly wrote:

    The effect of Benitez' attack on Mr. Ferguson shouldn't be overestimated. Chelsea were simply awful. United themselves looked short on ideas for much of the game. Even if they win both games in hand, they are one point ahead of Liverpool. Which is nothing. This one will go to the wire.

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  • 7. At 10:28am on 12 Jan 2009, wezhenshaw wrote:

    where has rafa been this season, did he not see the charges against unite, ie evra for one, and the touchline ban and the warning of fergies future conduct.

    Rafa is just trying to swing something in his favor by intimidating the FA and referees.

    There is no way Liverpool are going to win the league anyway not with ordinary players.

    Take gerrard out of the team and they are mid table at best.

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  • 8. At 10:29am on 12 Jan 2009, whatbill wrote:

    Definitely advantage Fergie. Its alway hard to win 3 titles in a row (even fergie has only done it once) as players get complacent and the opposition really want to stop you. And at the start of the season it looked very hard for United with their poor away form, chelsea revitalised and Liverpool looking a far more serious preposition.

    However, since losing to Arsenal, United have knuckled down and ground out results. Chelsea and Liverpool both started dropping points and the turning point was probably when they went to Japan and both of their rivals failed to win.

    Chelsea have been on the slide ever since, Liverpool got it together over christmas but then the Gerrard arrest happened, followed now by Rafa's outburst and the dropped points at Stoke. Meanwhile, United have been quietly racking up the points and then annouced themselves as championship favourites yesterday by blowing chelsea off the park. After the unrest of Ronaldo and Tevez and the indifferent start by Berbatov, Rafa may have given United something to focus on.

    There is a long way to go but the momentum has definitely swung....

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  • 9. At 10:31am on 12 Jan 2009, whatbill wrote:

    One other point - did chelsea take Rafa's advice on the zonal marking? If so it didn't do them much good!

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  • 10. At 10:36am on 12 Jan 2009, lcllover wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 11. At 10:38am on 12 Jan 2009, Pots0606 wrote:

    A lot of the previous comments both for and against Rafa and the famous rant can be said to be true. However, 3-0, Chelsea played off the park and it could have been 5 or 6. Utd not fireing on all cylinders.No dodgy refs decisions other than a couple of goals for Utd disallowed. Liverpool to come to Old Trafford. How often do the bookies get it wrong - United are firm favourites with them all. Look at Fergie's demeanour after the game - he was almost sorry for Rafa - maybe the no contract decision at Anfield is getting to him more than people think. Ask yourself why the contract has not been sorted - is Rafa not going to get one? Are the owners fed up with him? What about the new stadium? Is there unrest behind the scenes? Who knows. Prediction United will win the league and Liverpool may finish ahead of Chelsea as runners up. But it will be interesting for a few more weeks whilst United get their fixture pile up sorted out but it could be that they have a six point lead by early March with Liverpool then due at Old Trafford.

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  • 12. At 10:39am on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:

    im glad to see people talking some sense on here for a change. im disapointed we didnt get a win from a game that most people thought would be relatively easy but as arsenal and villa have found out the britania is a tricky place to go. as for the recent draws against the likes of west ham etc last year we maybe would have lost those games and worst case scenario united win two games and go one point ahead of us. with torres and skrtel back and with fixtures coming thick and fast for united im relatively optimistic. we just have to learn how to see off the lesser teams with that ruthless edge that has been lacking from all the big three(sorry arsenal) berbatov has four league goals and rooney has 5.....im sure with that kind of clinical finishing theyre not the dead certs everyone is making out. good blog phil, keep it up

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  • 13. At 10:39am on 12 Jan 2009, DavidBeckhamsBeard wrote:

    Good article Phil, I agree with most of that.

    I think that Rafa's comments on friday were wrong, both factually, and as a sky pundit put it, did sir alex's team talk for him.

    With regards to his comments, he complains about man utd getting the ref's decisions with reference to the amount of red's we get in our favour, despite that the only red we have had at OT this season was Pogatez's tuggish fould on possebon and Liverpool have had 2 at Anfield (and one of those was vidic!)

    Him moaning about fixtures, they may play more morning fixtures but we play more evening, and monday games, and with more midweek games now, does it make a difference overall?

    As a previous post said, the form is with man utd and with the best home record in the league and most of the games now coming at home the force is now with us!

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  • 14. At 10:40am on 12 Jan 2009, BigOhGee wrote:

    the problem for Liverpool is that they have a tendency to drop more points than United do, so having United in front by even a single point is a big disadvantage. I can see the game against Man United at Old Trafford being absolutely massive now!

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  • 15. At 10:42am on 12 Jan 2009, Myleftslipper wrote:

    Phil,

    This clearly was an inept performance from a Chelsea currently looking like it has reached the end of the road.

    But what do you think about United's approach to these big games at Old Trafford? I have noticed for a few years now that United approach these games as though they are the underdogs. The crowd is fired up and United's players charge around for 90 mins as every tackle gets a massive cheer.

    You mention yourself that United didn't play at their best and this is often the case with this approach. I don't remember the last time i watched one of these games at Old Trafford and came away thinking 'what a brilliant footballing display from United'.

    I am surprised Chelsea didn't see this coming. The first thing you have to do in this instance is match them for effort and determination.

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  • 16. At 10:45am on 12 Jan 2009, Edik wrote:

    The league is over.

    Liverpool just aren't good enough and Benitez is useless, except in cup competitions. If Torres and Gerrard fail, so do Liverpool, particularly without Alonso against Stoke.

    Chelsea have no width and don't play a proper formation. Will Scolari learn that the goals against them came from wide positions. So, er, having plays on the wings is useful then. When Chelsea did win the league they had Robben and Joe Cole out wide.

    Man Utd, without even looking their best, seem like they are going to go top. The relegation battle is what interests me, and maybe Villa for 4th!

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  • 17. At 10:45am on 12 Jan 2009, NIreland1-0England wrote:

    Ah Philtoon, your user name may suggest that you are not a Liverpool fan but may also suggest you have a bias against Ferguson for previous battles all those years ago......

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  • 18. At 10:46am on 12 Jan 2009, ciaranmc20 wrote:

    "The effect of Benitez' attack on Mr. Ferguson shouldn't be overestimated. Chelsea were simply awful. United themselves looked short on ideas for much of the game. Even if they win both games in hand, they are one point ahead of Liverpool. Which is nothing. This one will go to the wire."

    Good point, there is nothing in it still and too early to say that the league is won or lost. I feel that Liverpool and Benitez (mr benitez) just got unlucky with the results this week and that liverpool are still a great team and will come back next week stronger than ever. They have experience of being the underdogs, learned from their time in europe. Manu on the other hand might be 1 point ahead but have soo many games that if they lose momentum (say a draw at home) at any point then they could lose points for several weeks before they get a real chance to come back. only a point in it. let the season unfold

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  • 19. At 10:52am on 12 Jan 2009, TotalFootball91 wrote:

    Chelsea again proved that they have minimal invention to create chances. We all knew Deco for his ability to carve open defences with a through ball, has he done it once this season?
    We all know Drogba for hassling and putting the centre-backs under pressure, but a fairly inexperienced young player in Evans made him look mediocre at best.
    Chelsea played right down the throats of United, due to their lack of width. All United's goals came from wide areas. Maybe Scolari is missing something but it is plainly obvious that they need natural wide players ie Drop 2 of the centre midfielders, preferably Ballack and Deco.

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  • 20. At 10:52am on 12 Jan 2009, SyKop wrote:

    wezhenshaw - fans like you crack me up because you know nothing about Liverpool and nothing about football. Mid-table at best, ha ha ha ha... classic!

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  • 21. At 10:54am on 12 Jan 2009, DUDEINTHEHAT wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 22. At 10:55am on 12 Jan 2009, skb777 wrote:

    As for Benitez's so called rant, i cant see how him pointing out things that a blatanly obvious to everyone (fergie's hold over refs and the FA) in a calm manner to the press can be seen as a rant. Good on him to have the guts to come out and say it. I also think its daft that as soon as Fergie comes out and has a pop at a rival manager that the press straight away say that Fergie is up to his 'mind games' whereas as soon as the other manager gives his view/response then the press say that he has 'lost it' and that fergie has won the battle of the mind games. what a load of rubbish.

    _____________________________________

    Spot-on couldn't agree more with all the points you raise here.

    Fergie has to resort to name calling and it's round 1 to Fergie. Only time will tell if Rafa's comments have any effect or not - the next time Rooney stamps on someone or swearing at the officials (though he got away with that again last night) I wouldn't be surprised if a few other managers jump on this particular bandwagon in the weeks to come - we all know how the media love to stir it up on the back pages as well.

    So MU beat a very poor Chelsea there's a long way to go yet.

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  • 23. At 10:57am on 12 Jan 2009, Desolation_row wrote:

    Many commentators argued prior to the Stoke match that Benitez's statement was carefully calculated, you have to wonder now what benefit Benitez though he could gain from it. On Sunday United had two goals and a penalty incorrectly chalked off however it is hard to believe any of these decisions came as a result of his statement. Furthermore in making his statement prior to an away fixture at Stoke which has prooven tough for the other top teams, he put unnecassary pressure on his own players to deliver.

    In Spain Benitez was willing to stand his ground behind closed doors but stayed quiet on the whole in press conferences, you have to fell that was a better and clearly more fruitful approach for him. In the press conference prior to last years Champions League semi-final second leg Benitez accused Drogba of diving. Up until that point Drogba's form had been poor however Drogba took exception to the comment, apparently he had a picture of Benitez on his locker all week he went out and played a blinder.

    The situation is now out of Benitez's hands until a week today, brash statements only have a positive effective if they are back by the players actions on the pitch. Ferguson therfore has the opportunity to place United on top of the league by 5 p.m. Saturday. If United can do that then Benitez will know that his team must win the Merseyside derby to return to the summit of the premiership.

    How exactly Benitez expected upping the ante in the title race would help is unclear. Manchester United have won the last two leagues and have players like Giggs with 10 league medal's in their cabinet. In contrast Liverpool have only three players who have won any league medals. While Ferguson's moans about the early fixture list were aimed at taking the pressure off his own squad, Benitez's rant has achieved the opposite result and he may well pay dearly for it.

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  • 24. At 11:01am on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:

    liverpool are useless without torres and gerrard......... liverpool 2-1 united.......... ignorance is bliss

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  • 25. At 11:05am on 12 Jan 2009, wezhenshaw wrote:

    Sykop,

    refering to my earlier post, only 2 players from liverpool would get a place at either chelsea or man u, i think you know who!!

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  • 26. At 11:06am on 12 Jan 2009, philtoon82 wrote:

    To NIreland1-0England

    .....And your user name suggests that you live in Northern Ireland, so i'm guessing your probably a Man Utd fan then eh?

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  • 27. At 11:07am on 12 Jan 2009, Samwell2804 wrote:

    Another Good Article Mr McNulty,

    Altho Chelsea looked a lil lackluster yesterday and many people say that it was more a case of that than Man Utd playing very well, i say, take nothing away from United, they produced a magnificent display, with arguably their 2nd choice midfirlders on, the hard workers that just stifled the Chelsea attack and creativity whilst also being very productive and positive going forward on their own merit?!
    Their (or should I say Fergie's) gameplan was played out to perfection, let Chelsea have the ball and play it around, but get numbers in behind and close them out in the Final 3rd, ready to hit them on the break, thus making Chelsea look distinctly average at times?!
    Chelsea lookd really lacking in the light of no good wide men play, when Utd managed to stop the full backs rarely getting into the Und half/Final 3rd?!

    One thing I dont agree on tho............ is on the subject of John Terry
    "If Chelsea faltered in attack, they could at least rely on the iron discipline and resolve of their rearguard, built around the twin towers of John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho."
    I thought that Terry was absolutely awful, for me, he was at fault for two of the goals, he was just caught standing around in no mans land, seemingly doing nothing?! I mean come on, this "Tower", ducking out of a header, only for Rooney to stick it in the net?! Very Very poor yesterday?! not even close to geting a 5 out of 10 in my book!!!
    Even for me, the actual better Defender of the two, not even that I really rate him either, Carvalho - he was rather poor?!

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  • 28. At 11:08am on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:

    i personally think in attracting the media to his 'war of words' with fergie benitez was trying to relieve the pressure of intense media attention from his players, now if we drop points people are saying its benitez' fault. not the players. maybe this will enable them to get on with the job at hand for the next 4 months

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  • 29. At 11:09am on 12 Jan 2009, manu4triple wrote:

    First Blood to Sir Alex.
    This is turning into a great title race.

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  • 30. At 11:12am on 12 Jan 2009, gavin_cox wrote:

    Having watched the game, I find our beautiful game is in a dire state. It is becoming increasing tedious to watch £100k a week players diving around and killing the sport.

    Both teams are supposed to be at the pinnacle of the best league in the world. Not a good advert for the premiership at all!

    There were eight bookings in the game. I did not see one tackle that warranted a yellow card. Was there any difference in Ronaldo’s tackle on Lampard than Lampards on Ronaldo’s in the first 5 minutes? The only difference is that Ronaldo rolls around, it is embarrassing.

    If a player is seen to be diving and it is not spotted by the ref then a yellow card should given after the game. The referees get a hard time and this is due to them being constantly conned by diving players. Action is needed before it kills the game.

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  • 31. At 11:15am on 12 Jan 2009, jimmynick53 wrote:

    Yes it was 5 yellow for Chelsea and 3 for Man Utd but no-one could honestly claim Man Utd were favoured by the ref - Ronaldo had 2 perfectly good goals ruled out (one at the corner for ??? and one for offside when he timed a run perfectly), and had a blatant penalty not given - Carvalho then got in his face and Ronaldo got booked ... but what for I could not tell - he didn't particularly react, it was all Carvalho. Some of the tackles Chelsea players were booked for were just awful - Belletti could have been booked for his first scythe at Ronaldo, and when that had not succeeded, the second tackle was dreadful - good to see Ronaldo not reacting to all the heavy tackles he endured, but coming back for more and making Chelsea pay where it matters - on the score sheet - with a wonderful cross. Where do Chelsea go from here? Scolari has some job on his hands at the moment (though should they lose at Southend, he might find he has time on his hands instead ....)

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  • 32. At 11:16am on 12 Jan 2009, vertigo_timbo wrote:

    people seem to forget despite united being a point above liverpool if they win there two games away they've also really only have two challenging games left to play in the league and both of those are at home.

    Livepool will need to beat united at Old Trafford, hope Arsenal can do the same then hope they have a blip the size of taking two points from the like of stoke to have any hope of united retaining the trophy.

    If gerrard loses form or is out for a decent few weeks they have no chance. scousers also don't have a decent squad whereas players like Park and Giggs who have been peripheral so far can come in for big games like the weekend and united can still win. united also have cover for injuries as testified by evans and o'shea yesterday - it could also be argued that gary neville is hardly in the form of his life, Ronaldo also hasn't hit the heights of last season.

    you could therefore say it was as good a time to play united as it was to play chelsea. That United won so convincingly should be a massive worry for benitez if i were him i'd just shut up, comments like

    "He is talking too much about Liverpool. He has to think about his own team, the problems they have and all the things they are doing"

    are just idiotic. surely benitez should take some of his own advice. the media are clearly hyping this up. the liverpool players must read the rags, whether benitez is scared or not isn't the matter - by constantly talking about united he looks like he is - their is ever only going to be one winner - Fergie is too clever - he clearly has waited till he's easily won round one and then very calculattingly labeled benitez "disturbed". whatever happens next you can be sure that to fergie it will be water of a ducks back - I wouldn't be surprised if benitez keeps it up either - scripted snippets on either united or fergie only do one team any good and that's the team down the otherside of the east lancs road!

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  • 33. At 11:17am on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:

    wezhenshaw you clearly lack even the most fundamental understanding of the beautiful game. reina has won 3 consecutive golden glove awards. FACT. chelsea have yet to win a chamions league. FACT. now that abramovich has decide to cut the purse strings chelsea are out of ideas. and yes united are a fantastic team with real quality but if your telling me that john o shea and darren fletcher are better than alonso/mascherano then you have issues that may need to be addressed by a gentleman in a white overcoat!!!!

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  • 34. At 11:18am on 12 Jan 2009, SyKop wrote:

    Fair response, and everyone says the same thing... vice versa on the players in squads but this is down to the managers. Blackburn won the PL with only two decent strikers and a winning mentality... so you could say it doesn't matter who plays, as long as you still win. I will not be convinced we'll win it until Gerrard actually lifts the crown at the end of the season, but we won against Man U without those two players...

    What Desolation_row has put may well be true, and it concerns me we may well pay for what Rafa has said; although this will have pleased some people, it could have been the reason we played so poorly Saturday, and the reality is United have the advantage and if top on Saturday, the pressure in the derby will be even worse!

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  • 35. At 11:18am on 12 Jan 2009, foxtop wrote:

    No word from MrBlueBurns as yet.
    No complaints with Phil's blog for a change - or was it because of that "quiet confidence" you spoke of in your last post?

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  • 36. At 11:19am on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:

    philtoon you just had me in stitches lol. typical of 'fans' in n.ireland, glory hunters in the extreme.......

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  • 37. At 11:19am on 12 Jan 2009, ericseyebrows wrote:

    United fans have quietly sat back up until now in the knowledge that we had some tough away games while others were boasting about their position. It is now beginning to fall into place for United. As many experts said, you win nothing by Christmas. I definately feel a shift in momentum towards United.
    Yesterday, we were poor in the first half but in the second half we were brilliant and competed for every ball. Plus another clean sheet- thats 8 in a row in the league now and that is without our best defender in Rio.
    In reference to Rafas rant, I don't think he can complain as there have been many decisions that have gone in Liverpool's favour this season such as Cahill, Valencia and Adebayor's sending off. Furthermore, not many penalties are given at Anfield either.
    A sensible person will realise that it is all swings and roundabouts and over the course of the season these decisions get evened out. Only those that are under pressure would resort to rants like Rafas.
    I am not dismissing Liverpool but United have been there, done it and got the t-shirt and will be able to cope with the pressure.
    I still feel that Chelsea will come back into it at some point as they still have the quality in their squad.

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  • 38. At 11:21am on 12 Jan 2009, stroma88 wrote:

    Dear Mr. McNulty,

    Your comment

    " My own view is that Benitez would have been wiser to keep counsel, no matter how strong his arguments against Ferguson were. "

    Mr Benitez`s facts are completely contradictory and not "strong" at all

    quote

    "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.

    unquote

    and secondy

    quote

    But I have seen some facts. On November 1, they played Hull and Mr Ferguson had a two-match touchline ban and a £10,000 fine after confronting Mike Dean, the referee, for improper conduct.

    Unquote

    Strange that he Sir Alex cannot be punished but has a fine and a two match suspension

    Little bit confused Mr Benitez ??

    Pressure getting to you ??






    Well which is it

    He can`t be punished or he was fined and

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  • 39. At 11:21am on 12 Jan 2009, duffy wrote:

    Decent enough article. Interesting that many have now written off Chelsea after their woeful performance. I wouldn't just yet. Utd have put destiny in their hands again. However, if this yrs premiership is telling us anything, then it is that most away games that the "top 4" took for granted in yrs gone by are no longer a gimme. Refreshingly so, too. I predict more "upsets" from now until May.

    As for rantinez, his paella probably didn't sit too well with him on Sunday and Fergie probably sent him a bottle of red to help it go down easier.

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  • 40. At 11:23am on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:

    samwell 2804: i think phil was trying to say that in previous times the back two were solid but that is no longer the case. 'but even they were powerless to resist' he clearly accepted that they performed well under par as the reference to 3 goals from wide play(2 from set pieces) suggests.

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  • 41. At 11:23am on 12 Jan 2009, matchboxmaster wrote:

    Man Utd have not even played well this season and they are right up there. Their squad is better, they have played all of their most difficult fixtures, and they have more "winners" in their team than Liverpool or Chelsea. FACT, NOT OPINION.

    United are favourites for a very good reason. If they start playing well they will run away with it by about 6 or 7 points. If they continue their current form they will still be in with a very good shout.

    Lets be honest. Rafa does not look like he enjoys these "mind games". He appeared under pressure. Jose loved them, Wenger can play ball now and again...but Rafa is just funny. Fergie is just lauging at him!

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  • 42. At 11:24am on 12 Jan 2009, Mark McMillan wrote:

    The great thing is that for the first time in years you have England's two real heavyweights slugging it out.

    Chelsea will come and go (just wait to Roman moves on). No disrespect to Arsenal, but they are the No. 3 club.

    Can Utd draw level with 18 or will Liverpool re-establish themselves as the pre-eminant football club.

    European cups:
    Liverpool 5
    Utd 3
    Arsenal 0
    Chelsea 0

    League titles:
    Liverpool 18
    Utd 17
    Arsenal 13
    Chelsea 3

    Note other league winners; Everton (9), Villa (7), Sunderland! (6), Newcastle (4), Wednesday (4)

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  • 43. At 11:24am on 12 Jan 2009, ericseyebrows wrote:

    Anfield Sean- still living off that win then?
    Just like a small club would cherish their win over United as it does not happen often-

    Here are the results of rafas league games against United prior t your win in September

    United 3-0 Liverpool
    United 1-0 Liverpool
    United 1-0 Liverpool
    United 2-0 Liverpool
    United 0-0 Liverpool
    United 1-0 Liverpool
    United 2-1 Liverpool

    Fergie 6 Rafa 1!

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  • 44. At 11:24am on 12 Jan 2009, fourfootedchallenge wrote:

    Scotland one - Spain nil.

    Good artcile.

    Everyone is talking United, Liverpool, Chelsea. I've not ruled out Arsenal (or even Villa yet!) they are both only three points behind Chelsea. This is a very open race in a very open season.

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  • 45. At 11:26am on 12 Jan 2009, Kíllìnghölmê_Clᥠ(aka Charlie Cheesecake) wrote:

    Well done Phil. You have hoards of Man Utd fans queuing up to congratulate you.

    Benitez merely verbalised what everyone other than Man Utd supporters knows to be true. We know that Ferusson pretty much has carte blanche to do and say as he pleases. Ask Keith Hackett.

    With David Gill pulling the strings at the upper echelons of the governing body Fergusson can carry on doing what he does best. Intimidating officials to gain unfair advantage.

    While you and your like continue to worship the ground on which alex fergusson stands Utd will continue to receive unnecessary favour.

    It does football in general no good at all.



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  • 46. At 11:26am on 12 Jan 2009, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    In reply to post 15 - good point on United's performances in games such as this.

    Ferguson has always been the master of creating the siege mentality. He did it at Aberdeen when he toppled the Old Firm's domination.

    I have watched United games against Arsenal in the past that have had the same feel about them as Sunday's game.

    There was a definite sense inside Old Trafford that the words of Benitez had created that extra edge among the crowd.

    They wanted their team to respond to Benitez's charges - and maybe the team did as well.

    For a crowd that has been labelled "The Prawn Sandwich Brigade" in the past, they were loud, animated and passionate.

    Off the Ferguson agenda for a second, let's hear from Chelsea fans about what you thought of your team's performance and what Scolari must do to arrest any potential slide.

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  • 47. At 11:28am on 12 Jan 2009, Will Hambling wrote:

    From the master of the obvious; BigOhGee:

    "the problem for Liverpool is that they have a tendency to drop more points than United do"

    So that's why Liverpool never win the league!

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  • 48. At 11:31am on 12 Jan 2009, Dozzie81 wrote:

    Taking Rafa's rant out of the equation, the very fact that Liverpool played only one (considerably goal-shy workhorse-like) striker in Dirk Kuyt against a struggling promoted team like Stoke tells you exactly why many think Liverpool won't win the title. They are too cautious and don't have enough quality in the squad to rest players and still put away even the Premier Leagues poorest teams, like Stoke. To win titles you have to go away from home and take a chance to win the game - it's better to win two and lose one than win one and draw two!

    And on the subject of Rafa's rant, while i accept that Fergie does have a knack of intimidating referees on the odd occasion, i think it's a bit strong to make out it's a huge conspiracy. And it's always been the same, established and respected figures in the game hold more sway in the intimidation department... Are you telling me that John Terry having a word in the refs ear isn't going to have more effect than Johnny Evans? And what was Rafa's aim in making his speech? To get a reaction from refs to hinder Man Utd... it hardly gives him the high ground does it?

    And to say Man Utd get away with anything is pretty strong after Evra got banned for 3 matches for a pretty restrained bit of handbags having been racially abused!?

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  • 49. At 11:34am on 12 Jan 2009, boomshakalak wrote:

    this is exactly why Fergie is arguably the best manager ever. He is just better than every other manager at everything... the guy is awesome!

    Rafa should have known better than to get involved - his comments would have been posted on the utd dressing room and fergie would have given it the old "we are proud champions, everyone is out to get us, we need to fight" speech that he has used 100 times before with Keegan, Wenger or whoevers names used instead of Rafa.... whilst i don't think Rafa was wrong in what he said - he has simply given the master yet another piece of motivation fuel!...

    and as for chelsea being awful - they were... but utd still played VERY well and on a man for man basis every utd player won their personal battle on the day... including the tactical battle of the managers.

    Utd, even without a genuine goalscoring striker (i.e Andy Cole) are looking stronger than ever - and their main challengers (Chelsea and Arsenal) are looking as poor as they have for years... and as for Liverpool.... if anyone wants to bet me any amount of money that they will win the league i will take the bet on with them - as they won't!... but they will have their best season ever and maybe still be in the race come March....

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  • 50. At 11:35am on 12 Jan 2009, rosey05 wrote:

    Hi Phil

    It was a bad weekend all round as a Liverpool supporter. I think first and foremost we need to look at our own performance, which was by far and away the worst of the season. We looked void of any creativity as Gerrard had a quiet night and Lucas, (who replaced Alonso) who was dreadful and offers us no imagination whatsoever going forward.

    I feel we also missed Agger's ability to bring the ball out of defense which creates space for those in the midfield. OK Skrtel came in and played well and we kept a clean sheet which im sure in Benitez's mind is job well done but we certainly missed something without Agger or Alonso. I thought Gerrard worked extremely hard to find space but it was often the case that we didnt have anyone with the ability to pick him out, which Alonso has done so well this season

    Also when Torres came on we didn't make 1 chance for him in half an hour. We needed to change tactics as well as personel. You would never see United draw 0-0 in what can be best described as a whimper! I find it pathetic how we have played Stoke home and away and have failed to score. They might be hard to play against admittedly but this Liverpool side is meant to be really going hammer and tong for this title and the impression i got was we would rather of got a 0-0 than take a chance at victory but risk a defeat. This is not the approach which has seen United win so many titles in the past and i really don't think this negative attitude will win us the title.

    As for Benitez's rant, I personally would have kept my mouth shut and used it as inspiration for my players but i don't mind what he has done. If anything what it could do is play on the referee's minds and 1 or 2 decisions could go against United (as shocking as that may be!) But lets be honest Benitez has just said what people up and down the country have been saying about Fergie and United for many a year and for that alone he deserves some credit!

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  • 51. At 11:36am on 12 Jan 2009, cloughtheking wrote:

    Opinion seems to be equally divided over whether Rafa has exploded with a Keegan-style rant or stood up to the bully that is Ferguson by publicly stating what many have believed for some time.
    Personally, I believe the latter is true.
    Momentum from the original Keegan outburst has gathered to such an extent that Fergie is seen as some kind of psychological master, while in reality he is nothing of the sort. Mourinho, for one had his measure, and Wenger has given as good as gets over the years.
    Fergie is more or less seemingly allowed to say what he likes about anyone and everyone, while any retort is seen as the perpetrator having 'lost it'.
    Of course, given the weekends respective results it is easy to conclude that the furore has tipped the balance towards united, but
    in reality Liverpool took a point from a difficult away game against a very resilient Stoke team (who took a point at Anfield and beat Arsenal) while United feasted on a very poor and disjointed Chelsea.
    I also believe that the Wigan match on wednesday will pose a much sterner test for United than chelsea did yesterday.

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  • 52. At 11:37am on 12 Jan 2009, chips_in_the_queue wrote:

    Ferguson does get touchline bans (the most recent in November), so how can Benitez claim he is untouchable? I thought he was dealing in 'facts'. Also Benitez's self-styled role as the knight-in-shining-armour crusader for 'Respect' in football, is a bit rich given the fact he petulantly hits out at referees as much as the next man (i.e claiming the referee was bias when Liverpool drew 1-1 in the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea last year). Every week managers criticise poor decisions, not just Ferguson.

    The irony of it all was fantastic. Benitez accuses Ferguson of being obsessed about Liverpool (all he did was answer a question at a press conference!!) and then pulls out his A4 dossier on his United counterpart. His rant was about lack of respect to officials and yet clearly this was Benitez's attempt to influence the referee for Sundays match against Chelsea.

    Don't write Chelsea off though. They looked short of ideas on Sunday but they are just four points from top-spot.

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  • 53. At 11:38am on 12 Jan 2009, Thomas_Black_11 wrote:

    Those coming from a mediterranean background like me can see another side to the Rafa rant.

    In leagues like Spain and Italy, the referees of a game are as much the talking point as the players, if not more. Sometimes not without reason (see Calciopoli).

    Rafa comes from a background where putting pressure to referees is a science and also putting your team's misfortunes down to referees is the easy decision.

    His rant has paid off for this weekend: a good goal for Utd disallowed, a clear cut penalty given as offensive foul, borderline offside decisions given to Chelsea. Oppose that with a yellow to Rooney that wasn't given and one can see decisions went mainly Chelsea's way, with every situation where the ref had grounds for doubt going to the away team.

    The one thing that makes the PL superior to other leagues is that we don't spend vast amounts of time, with special shows, looking at refs decisions. The players are the stars - as it should be.

    For Rafa to say that all the wrongs of the league ar Ferguson's behaviour and perceived lack of punishment is to take attention away from the game itself and the real qualities of the title contenders. No team wins 10 PL titles without merit and every one of the big 4 gets some decisions going their way - Carragher admitted so himself on Sky.

    Rather than focussing on responding on his player's merits in handling pressure, that were the subject under question, Rafa preferred to play the revolutionary, that sees conspiracies everywhere and revert to personal attacks. Good luck to him, on the evidence of just one game (not so much but on an important weekend) he did lose the first round. Personally, I do not like his tactics and I'm not convinced it will pay off. Teams with the 'ref hunted' syndrome tend to self destruct, at least where I come from. We'll see how this one pans out but imho Liverpool don't need a rebel on the helm, they need a leader to inspire the players out of their title draught feeding their self belief. Rafa, doesn't look the part on the latest evidence

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  • 54. At 11:38am on 12 Jan 2009, mortgageman wrote:

    'Facts' seems to be the key word in the Rafa-Fergie saga. Alex Ferguson stated a fact when he said that the current Liverpool team hadn't experienced the heat of the title run-in in recent years. They just havn't been in contention. It was a fair point but made not without a little mischief in mind! But this was only the first 'fishing trip' for Sir Alex as we approach the business end of the season. He wouldn't have expected his comments to have any impact or to solicit a response. Imagine his delight when his mildest of comments caused Rafa to expose his psyche to the full glare of the media. I don't think it's what Rafa said that matters, more the fact that he went to so much trouble and preperation to make his point. Why bother? The answer is of course that Alex Ferguson has got under Rafa's skin and clearly upset him. Alex Ferguson now know's that and will use it for the rest of the season. The best way to play Fergie is to ignore him and deny him the amunition he uses so well. What is it they say? Ignorance is Bliss??!!

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  • 55. At 11:41am on 12 Jan 2009, AlanGreen1234 wrote:

    Even as a utd fan, i think the benitez's 'rant' was blown out of proportion. I like the way SAF responded with barely a few words, justifying its insignificance.

    Linekar has really gotta learn to act, if he'd gonna try and mock benitez on MOTD, terrible!

    'i don't think we should wait any longer to show our next game... wudnt want to upset benitez'
    ...lame!!
    'Now some FACTS about our next game, FACTS'
    ...that one was a bit better, but still, lame!!

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  • 56. At 11:49am on 12 Jan 2009, Liverpool Andy wrote:

    You just love having a go at Liverpool don't you Phil, this is the 2nd blog you've done in 2 days praising Fergie and kicking at Liverpool when we haven't won, wait till next Monday after the Derby and I bet you'll have gone quiet then.

    If the BBC are insistent on getting someone to blog about Liverpool and Man Utd they should at least get someone impartial to do it and not an Everton fan.

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  • 57. At 11:50am on 12 Jan 2009, Liverpool Andy wrote:

    Anfield Sean- still living off that win then?
    Just like a small club would cherish their win over United as it does not happen often-

    Here are the results of rafas league games against United prior t your win in September

    United 3-0 Liverpool
    United 1-0 Liverpool
    United 1-0 Liverpool
    United 2-0 Liverpool
    United 0-0 Liverpool
    United 1-0 Liverpool
    United 2-1 Liverpool

    Fergie 6 Rafa 1!

    ___________________________________

    Utd fans always go on about Liverpool fans talking about history but in our most recent game we beat you!

    Typical Utd fan, hypocrite.

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  • 58. At 11:50am on 12 Jan 2009, stelios wrote:

    Utd were cleverly set up with the inclusion of Giggs instead of the more defensive Carrick and in a very good physical condition. All credits to Sir Alex and his team who managed to outplay the tame Chelsea outfit.

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  • 59. At 12:00pm on 12 Jan 2009, Warnedout wrote:

    Rafa's Rant sadly reminiscent of Keegan's outburst and implosion of Newcastle's season, which they have never really recovered from. I don't know how Rafa seriously believes he can win a slanging match with Fergie - verbally he won't be able to understand him for a start.
    Rafa needs to focus his energies on finding some attacking quality in midfield and up front where Liverpool are clearly inferior to Utd and the persistent use of Kuyt and lately Lucas will seriously damage their title aspirations.
    Please Rafa stop the ridiculous rant - it's not Liverpool's style.

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  • 60. At 12:02pm on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:

    not living off a win mate, proving a point. the talking is all well and good but as far as im aware the league isnt won until after the final fixture. united fans have had alot to shout about for too long and i think we're going to kick on from where we are. we havnt lost to any of the big four yet this season and the 'mini league' at the top is always crucial. 4 points from 4 games is not very good. yes we have to go to old trafford but we went to the bridge and ended an unbeaten run that spanned a couple of years. benitez is a great manager and he is tactically aware, all we need is for some of the 'fringe players' to start performing and to escape the sometimes infuriating negative tactics(no torres or keane?) and we will be fine. united have had results go there way late on and maybe that luck will run out. im looking forward to the title run in.

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  • 61. At 12:04pm on 12 Jan 2009, Anfieldofdreams wrote:

    Phil, i cannot believe the amount of support you lot in the Media are giving to Ferguson?

    It is long long long overdue that someone finally stood up to Ferguson (whom i cannot believe actually call Sir Alex!?).

    Once again, Benitez stated FACTS!! It was NOT a rant, it was not "reckless"
    He had a list of FACTS.

    Why is it when Ferguson says something insulting that all of the Media have a chuckle and say "ah ole Ferguson up to his tricks again" and yet when another manager says anything about Fergusons team they apparently have "lost it" ???

    What is required now is for all of the yes men in football to actually stand up and support Benitez. I watched yesterday as some ex pro's and managers stuttered through why Benitez was wrong... clearly they were either told what to say or else they fear Ferguson.

    Oh by the way.... how is Ferguson "The Master" of mind games as ive seen most journalists declare ???? only Keegan has suffered so who else??

    The Media are clearly and utterly Pro Manchester

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  • 62. At 12:05pm on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:

    boomshakalak your getting a bit excited.....do you want a tissue?

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  • 63. At 12:07pm on 12 Jan 2009, LFCfan128 wrote:

    Like most neutral supporters for this game (if these actually exist!), I predicted that Man U will thump Chelsea this weekend, and they did. Chelsea was poor but Man U was on another level yesterday, perhaps pushed on by Rafa's comments - we will never know. These are mind games but Rafa was quoting fact, things that all PL managers knows about but too scared to voice, except from the top personnel e.g Wenger. At the end of the day, football is a business. Its all about lobbying and who you "know and support" that counts. For examples, please see previous Chelsea manager !

    If Rafa thinks that by citing some home-truths will make Man U perform better, why would he do that? I think Rafa don't care about this point but is more concerned of speaking the truth and replying to AF point about Liverpool being "scared" etc. This is football and all the talking is done on the pitch. We will see what happens in May.

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  • 64. At 12:07pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

    Only an idiot or a United fan would argue in Fergusons favour, and with you position on the BBC i would hope that you're the latter, even though im not too convinced.

    So the results might of gone Fergusons way but the mind games are completely the opposite, Benitez's remarks where calm cool and casual, and when Ferguson was asked about them his response was exactly want Benitez wanted, he stuttered, looked embarresed and didnt know what to say, and his best comeback was that the facts where not true. Perfect.

    Fergusons met his match.

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  • 65. At 12:10pm on 12 Jan 2009, Kapnag wrote:

    Benitez was foolish. Just don't get involved, focus on yourself and do your own job. Best way to shut someone up is to do the business

    To carry it on is unexplainable. Perhaps he feels he needs to maintain this public stance

    As for what he actually said. Sir Alex has been the only manager to receive a touchline ban this season. Evra was punished with a 4 game ban from an incident that happened after a match, 6 months earlier. To suggest Sir Alex controls the FA is insulting

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  • 66. At 12:14pm on 12 Jan 2009, Will Hambling wrote:

    LFCfan128, United were not "on another level" yesterday. They were slightly above average, but the win was made easy by Chelsea being awful. If we carry on playing like that someone will find us out sooner or later (perhaps even Liverpool) in the league and Inter will give us a good pasting in Europe.

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  • 67. At 12:15pm on 12 Jan 2009, manucastle wrote:

    64. At 12:07pm on 12 Jan 2009, kingkennyskop wrote
    So the results might of gone Fergusons way but the mind games are completely the opposite, Benitez's remarks where calm cool and casual, and when Ferguson was asked about them his response was exactly want Benitez wanted, he stuttered, looked embarresed and didnt know what to say, and his best comeback was that the facts where not true. Perfect.

    Fergusons met his match.
    ----------------------------
    (Rolls his eyes skywards and mutters oh Lord! Forgive them children! They do not know what they are saying!!!)

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  • 68. At 12:16pm on 12 Jan 2009, No23isCarragher wrote:

    Rant (verb) - to speak or declaim extravagantly or violently.

    Reading calmly from a page and chucking in a few jokes about zonal marking and Fergie writing the fixture list doesn't really qualify.

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  • 69. At 12:16pm on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:

    for the people slagging lucas i suggest you do some research. he was the youngest player to win the golden boot in south america-beating the likes of kaka and ronaldinho in terms of age, and he is a more defense minded player than either. couple that with the fact that he has captained his country at u21/23 level and you see he is quite clearly a good player struggling for consistency. his through ball for gerrards second against newcastle was sublime. if the whole team plays badly ie against stoke then how can you justify singling out lucas.... form is temporary and all that!

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  • 70. At 12:17pm on 12 Jan 2009, My-Pet-dragon wrote:

    #64

    Come on do you really believe what you have said there!? Really!?

    Did SAF stutter about it.

    I thought Jamie Carraghers reaction on Sky Sports was more interesting. He genuinely sruggled to support his own manager!

    Rafa saying SAF is only manager not to be punished. What about Roy keane?...he was not punished. So that is not a FACT.
    SAF has been punished with a touchline ban.
    Rafa is just quite simply wrong.

    I agree it was not a KK stlye rant. He thought he was being clever. i admit he was being brave but unfortunaley the facts dont add up which means the whole thing is undermined.

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  • 71. At 12:17pm on 12 Jan 2009, thewelshboycott wrote:

    I still can't believe that Liverpool's challenge won't fade away.

    It's a combination of lack depth, but also a lack of experience in being winners.

    United sneaked a late winner against Stoke. Liverpool didn't. A small, but ultimately telling difference.

    How many times has Fergie been in this position over the years, only to come good at the end?

    It reminds me of those long distance track events. There is the front runner, whose brow is furrowed with anxiety as the bells sounds for the final lap. Only to watch helplessly as Coe and Ovett come steaming past at the last.

    Not so sure about Chelsea, though. That performance should have really worried Scolari.

    What are Chelsea now? A team with a small core of players who are Chelsea through and through. The rest are just hired mercenaries. It's showing now, as well.

    Take Anelka, for example, he has more clubs on his cv than Gary Player. No doubt he will add several more after Chelsea.



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  • 72. At 12:17pm on 12 Jan 2009, Drew_C wrote:

    1) Benitez was right about people being scared of United and Ferguson note that in any other team Rooney would have been sent off for two yellows but Utd players and manager are allowed to complain as much as they like

    2) Instead of making the effect on Liverpool the issue the press should be confirming the truth of what Benitez said - I see few comments on a rather one-sided refereeing display yesterday

    3) Ferguson and Utd should be put under the microscope to bring them to heel by the media and FA, their behaviour is disgraceful.

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  • 73. At 12:18pm on 12 Jan 2009, matchboxmaster wrote:

    I have to admit that I thought the exclusion of Scholes, Carrick and Anderson might have been a bit of a backlash to the poor Derby performance.

    Fergie stated on MUTV that he had told Giggs and Fletcher two weeks ago that they would start in the middle against Chelsea.

    I thought it was a masterstroke. Fletcher normally does well in the big games and Giggs has been there, done it, can make good runs, can spot a pass and is a very clever player.

    Ok, Giggs will not play every game, but he still has the quality to play against any team in the world and do damage when fit.

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  • 74. At 12:20pm on 12 Jan 2009, Unitedoncourse wrote:

    Liverpool and Chelsea can forget it. Liverpool put out a team not to lose. One up front and that was `none prolific` Kuyte. Chelsea, one up front to start the game and that was out of sorts Drogba. At least Arsenal try to win. United might be misfiring (at the moment) but at least we play to win and go forward with flair and pace both of which are lacking with Chelsea and Liverpool. Treble in 1999, dare I say one better in 2009!

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  • 75. At 12:20pm on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:

    and i agree that ferguson has served a ban and was fined but the exception tends to prove the rule. even the most ardent united fan cannot honestly say that fergie is given a ludicrous amount of leeway by the f.a and the idea that he has earned the right to bend the rules(as stated by paul merson on soccer saturday) is a joke to be frank

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  • 76. At 12:25pm on 12 Jan 2009, newmediaman wrote:

    Rooney's behaviour towards the match officials was very disappointing yesterday. Nobody doubs his talent but his attitude has a lot to be desired!

    Read more here-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A45852122

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  • 77. At 12:30pm on 12 Jan 2009, Walk the Warwick Road wrote:

    Well I'm not sure what all this bad feeling towards Mr. McNulty is about. He's simply wrote his facts down on a piece of paper and written them out in this blog.

    Fergie made Benitez look a bit of a fool with his response with words like 'disturbed'.

    United are the favourites for the title. Fact.
    Liverpool should concentrate on football, not trying to out do Fergie at mind games, many have tried and failed. Fact.
    Chelsea were awful, but due to United's display. Fact.

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  • 78. At 12:32pm on 12 Jan 2009, DavidBeckhamsBeard wrote:

    re: kingkennyskop

    Met his match? Doubt it very much! Rafa responded to fergie saying "Liverpool will probably get nervous" (Not the most unreasonable thing to say) with a a4 sheet of "facts" which can be quite easily disproved.

    Top it all off with arguably Liverpool's worst performance of the season the day after, and Man Utd's crushing of the same team who took them to penalties in the champs league final last season, regardless of Chelsea's form its a pretty big statement of intent. And not forgetting the mental blow of potentially being 2nd by the times your next game comes around

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  • 79. At 12:37pm on 12 Jan 2009, matchboxmaster wrote:

    Some of Rafa's words of wisdom.

    "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.

    All managers need to know is that only Mr Ferguson can talk about the fixtures, can talk about referees and nothing happens.

    We had a meeting in Manchester with managers and FA about the Respect campaign. And I was very clear, forget the campaign because Mr Ferguson was killing the referees, killing Mr Atkinson, killing Mr Hackett."

    Fergie is right when he said Rafa spoke with venom and came accross as disturbed. Fergie is laughing about all this, Rafa is not. It is so so funny!

    Anyone want to bet on who will have the last laugh?

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  • 80. At 12:37pm on 12 Jan 2009, Flobbiegrunt wrote:

    Hang on manucastle, what do you mean about decisions in United's favour. Ronaldo booked for being hauled down in the penalty area - how does that work?

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  • 81. At 12:42pm on 12 Jan 2009, pdw709 wrote:

    Even I as a Manu Supporter agree that Fergie gets away with a lot, but so do other top managers. Martin O'Neil recently had a real go a referee and his outbursed was also overlooked.

    I even think that the decision for Benitez to make his scripted rant could have been a good one, but he totally mucked up the timing. He should have waited for a post-match press conference after Liverpool had just thrashed some team 3 or 4 goals and then layed down a marker for Fegie. Instead all he did, despite making a valid point, was to heap even more pressure on a team that is currently displaying poor form, and that just comes across as the desperation of a man that knows he's beaten.

    Content of an outburst not withstanding, Fergie knows perfectly well that timing is everying and he would not of made the same mistake. Benetiz needs to learn from the master...

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  • 82. At 12:42pm on 12 Jan 2009, FairPlay wrote:

    I really do not know why Benitez reacted in the way he did. The comments that Ferguson had made regarding Liverpool becoming nervous were hardly incendiary and could easily have been ignored. To react with such vitriol does not reflect very well on Benitez. And those who say he was calm and collected obviously did not see or hear him thumping the desk as he pointed out his 'facts'.

    The facts Benitez quoted were extremely selective - I am sure that Ferguson, if he chose to, could produce a dossier on favourtism towards Liverpool (as an example, think of the number of questionable sendings-off which their opponents have suffered over the past 18 months or so).

    Watching Carragher on Sky yesterday, he seemed to be vaguely bemused by the rant and was fair enough to say that the big clubs tended to get the key decisions

    In the long term, Liverpool are genuine title-challengers and could win the PL this season. What Benitez said, in my opinion (and this is not 'fact'), will not have helped their cause. I certainly think that it did work as a great team talk for United yesterday and probably worked against his own team on Saturday

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  • 83. At 12:45pm on 12 Jan 2009, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Just to answer one or two points.

    My belief that Rafael Benitez should have kept his own counsel is purely a matter of personal opinion. As I have said before, time will tell whether his actions have proved correct or have turned out to be follow.

    I also happen to believe Liverpool will still have a major say in the Premier League title race right up until May. I would be surprised if they fell away.

    I am not 100% certain they will win the title, but they have a better chance than they have had for years.

    United and Sir Alex Ferguson, however, have had a much more satisfactory weekend than Liverpool and Benitez and now have their destiny back in their own hands.

    In among the debate about the off-the-field spats, we should not forget that Ferguson pulled off a clever tactical move by picking Ryan Giggs in central midfield ahead of Michael Carrick against Chelsea.

    I also felt Benitez's team selection at Stoke was too cautious - a fact acknowledged by many Liverpool fans on this blog over the weekend.

    What must be the tactical approach for Ferguson and Benitez in the weeks ahead?

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  • 84. At 12:45pm on 12 Jan 2009, Liverpool Andy wrote:

    Man Utd weren't even that good yesterday Chelsea were poor and didn't deserve anything from the game.

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  • 85. At 12:47pm on 12 Jan 2009, happy_red wrote:

    The sad thing is that nobody is paying attention to what Benitez said, but more the fact that he said something at all.

    Ferguson has got away with slagging off refs for years. His players have got away with surrounding refs and kicking out at the opposition unpunished. With David Gill representing both Man Utd and the FA, where is the press analysis of the facts?

    Along with Ferguson's childish refusal to talk to the BBC, I think it is about time someone challenged him and shed light on what we all know to be true. It would seem Graham Poll agrees too - but I'm sure the FA will disregard his opinion.

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  • 86. At 12:49pm on 12 Jan 2009, neilrate wrote:

    I honestly can`t believe some of the nonsense that people write on here! All i`ve read or heard is how bad Chelsea were! and nothing about to tactical know how of Fergie! What other Prem manager would have dropped Carrick and Scholes for a game against Chelsea !!! I was gutted when i saw the team sheet, but had to bow down to Fergie at the end cause giggs ran the show! Granted united didn`t play well, but they didn`t need to! Chelsea look like a team in disarray! Lampard, Deco and Ballack are all awesome players, but they do the same thing in a team, so why/how can they be played together??? They`ve also got argueably the best captain since the mighty Tony Adams, but a lot of ego`s who don`t seem to listen to him! (Ballack, deco, Drogba, Anelka) . As for Drogba and Anelka not being able to play together or not wanting to play together or not liking each other, it`s nonsense! They CAN play together, they just have to do what Big Phil asks of them, and so what if they don`t get on with each other !?!? Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham famously didn`t get on, but played together and did it well because thats what they were asked/told to do!
    As for " Rafa`s rant" I say fair play to him, it was well articulated and well delivered! But, soooooo stupid! It was just what United and Fergie needed, they love it when someone has a go at them, they smell blood and attack! But fair play Rafa, You`ve got a point! ( although i can`t see Howard Webb being intimidated by anyone! The incredible Hulk would even back down from him!)
    And as for who`s gonna win the title? It`s gonna be United or Liverpool, but i`d love for the sake of English football for Aston Villa to sneak under the Radar and knick it !
    Oh yeah, one last thing. 7. "Take gerrard out of the team and they are mid table at best." You really need to watch Alonso, Mascherano, Torres, Riera and carragher more!!

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  • 87. At 12:52pm on 12 Jan 2009, DavidBeckhamsBeard wrote:

    re: anfieldsean

    your right the exception would normally prove the rule, but for the fact that David Moyes, Phil Brown, Roy Keane and Joe Kinnear have all had the same charges as Sir Alex, but Sir Alex has had both the most severe fine and the worst punishment, a touchline ban.

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  • 88. At 12:53pm on 12 Jan 2009, Kapnag wrote:

    #75 we are talking about facts (well Benitez is supposedly)

    The FACT is, Sir Alex has been the only manager punished with a ban this season

    This makes Benitez' fact that "Sir Alex never gets punished" completely untrue

    And why would the FA be scared of Sir Alex anyway?? What could Sir Alex possibly do to the FA? Steal their lunch money? Deflate their tyres? I'm completely lost here.

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  • 89. At 12:53pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

    "70. At 12:17pm on 12 Jan 2009, My-Pet-dragon"

    are you serious? watch the two interviews before you start talking rubbish. like i said your either a united fan or an idiot and with a name like "my-pet-dragon" i think i can hazard a guess.

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  • 90. At 12:54pm on 12 Jan 2009, Horace wrote:

    I was very disappointed with chelsea yesterday, they just didnt know what to do. They used to be really good at OT now look.

    I dont even support chelsea (scunthorpe utd fan) but its teams like chelsea and liverpool and Arsenal who give us hope and can beat ferguson and that arrogant team known as Man Utd.

    Chelsea need to get rid of Scolari, never rated him, and they need to go back to basics bigtime. Get rid of Deco.

    Liverpool seriously need to sort themselves out against the so called lesser teams and Arsenal, well we can write a huge novel on them currently.

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  • 91. At 12:58pm on 12 Jan 2009, Boshorange wrote:

    I am not a man utd fan by any means, or even a fan of any premier league club, but from the view of an outsider Man Utd look the only club with a strong enough squad to win the league. Liverpool are second, however good they are through Torres and Gerrard, Carragher, Alonso, Mascherano and (for my money) Babel. Other than that they are a bunch of average at best players such as Dossena, Arbeloa, Insua, Ngog and the other likes that no-ones heard of. Chelsea have far too many average players. Both Kalou and Malouda are out of place there and nowhere near good enough to play at that level. Carvalho is a disaster waiting to happen, the amount of mistakes he makes is criminal. Anelka isnt world class, ballack is past it and for some reason since Roman took over they seem to have spent around £50ml on right backs! For me, it will finish:

    Man Utd
    Liverpool
    Chelsea
    Aston Villa

    And to be honest, its nothing if not funny to watch Rafa try and get on Fergies back. The only guy whos manages to unite rafa, fergie and wenger is the special one. We need him back in the premier league.

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  • 92. At 12:58pm on 12 Jan 2009, 10ANDCOUNTING wrote:

    Why are Liverpool fans getting so defensive? Is it because Benitez made a fool of himself, and Liverpool FC, and you are all embarrassed by this?

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  • 93. At 12:59pm on 12 Jan 2009, Myleftslipper wrote:

    Thanks for replying earlier, Phil.

    You are absolutely right about this aggressive approach being used earlier on Arsenal. In fact, i think it was Arsenal's prety passing team around their invincible era which forced United to adopt this high-tempo tactic. They have used it successfuly ever since.

    Football comes second in these games. Teams must match United for effort before they can think about getting a result.

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  • 94. At 1:00pm on 12 Jan 2009, Sortit wrote:

    Plenty of MU and L'pool opinion on here, not much Chelsea.
    I, like most Chels fans, still don't know what to make of Big Phil. Often this season the same could be said for the team on the pitch. Yesterday was a case in point, total lack of cohesion, spirit and invention.
    If this is Roman's idea of entertaining football then it' difficult to predict who will get bored with it first, the supporters or him!
    They will have to lift their game to beat Southend, but somehow I think 3rd place in the PL will be a result this season.
    As a supporter of 45 years I'm a long way from being worried yet, and as long as all the other title contenders fail to show consistency and drop silly points it is still game on.

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  • 95. At 1:04pm on 12 Jan 2009, jamie norris wrote:

    30. At 11:12am on 12 Jan 2009, gavin_cox wrote:


    Both teams are supposed to be at the pinnacle of the best league in the world. Not a good advert for the premiership at all!




    -----------------------------------

    Isn't it strange how different people view football matches, personally I thought yesterday's game was a fantastic advert for the premiership. Usually games between United Arsenal Chelsea and Liverpool are all close encounters with either side settling for a draw and if there is to be a winner it's 1-0, 2-1 etc. With the result at 3-0 yesterday and United having 2 goals disallowed it was great for the prem.

    The majority of people on here are almost excluding Chelsea from the Title race, which is totally bizarre to me. They are not playing well at all at the moment but have almost 1/2 a season to turn it around.
    All these statistics about United winning 6 out of 8 etc could all turn around in Chelsea or Liverpools favour.
    Liverpool have Torres back, and if he hits top form, there is no saying what might happen. The Gerrard fiasco was so badly timed tohough that it might have a longer lasting effect on the team, more so than everyone thinks.

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  • 96. At 1:05pm on 12 Jan 2009, redmanred wrote:

    Quote of yourself Phil "It was a measured, calm Ferguson. The sort of Ferguson who knows he has just won the first round of what could be a long campaign of psychological warfare".

    Are you serious, you cant have seen the initial interview when he was so tongue tied it took him almost ten seconds to get an answer out, and then went on to fire a few cheap petty insults out, obviously you saw the conveniently edited version, there is no doubt who was the winner this weekend on the pitch but he did not even come close to winning the war of words off it, but hey, he is being made out to be the winner so maybe we should all bow down to all the endless agenda's on display in the media and all agree that Mr Ferguson is not a bumbling fool but a genius.

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  • 97. At 1:06pm on 12 Jan 2009, mohtechnix wrote:

    Hi Phil,

    Having had a late night on saturday, I still managed to get up early to make way to old trafford full of excitement . I am sure you notice that we did not play as good as we diid at Highbury when we lost to Arsenal but to my utter disbelief chelsea's defending was shocking than ever.

    I made a comment on your blog last week in regards to the selection of joe cole and Anelka ahead of Deco.. I hope you have now seen the detrimental effect this had for 45minutes yesterday. I am not saying Deco was exceptionally good for 45minutes but he was okay in the sense that he never gave the ball away, kept possession very well and tracked back pretty well albeit that Drogba refused to make any brilliant run and lost possesion everytime he recieved a pass. Joe cole's over leg, aimless runs and flicks gave possesion away time and time again and these put more pressure on Bosingwa who is not the best defending full back around.

    if deco din't pick up a knock and Scolari subd Drogba for Anelka swapping Deco to his favourite central midfield position or free role(also mentioned by Jamie Redknapp) they probably would have got a point out of the game but I am sure you would have criticised that in your blog today. Do yuo now see why he picks Deco ahead of Joe cole? Lampard and Ballack lacked falir and creativity and the back four performance was terrible. One last thing is when milan were champions of europe, italy and world the average age of their players was 29 and they never played with wingers.

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  • 98. At 1:06pm on 12 Jan 2009, NIreland1-0England wrote:

    I think you'll Anfieldsean that we don't have a professional regime in NI therefore we tend to support PL teams. Many support Man U due to the NI connection with the club such as Best Whiteside etc.

    I'm sure you live closer to Anfield than your nearest non league side which you could support instead (equivalent of our non-professional Irish league).

    For the record I've been supporting Utd since 88 when I was 6 as my dad was a fan since the days of Best and co

    But sure, you know everthing don't ya.....

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  • 99. At 1:07pm on 12 Jan 2009, boomshakalak wrote:

    anfield sean... that made me smile mate... for what it is worth i am a chelsea fan not a utd fan.. so i'm not that excited about it - i am just commenting on Fergie and Rafa as i see it... i'm certainly not very excited about utd spanking us at the weekend... but credit where credit is due...

    as for my excitement levels and need for a tissue... save the tissue for your anfield buddies to a) use due to their premature excitement at thinking they have a hope in hell of winning the league this year or any of the next 5... and then b) to cry into following another season of not winning the league..

    odds on Gerrard doing the annual transfer request?

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  • 100. At 1:10pm on 12 Jan 2009, WH wrote:

    No, all these Liverpool and other fans are right.

    I mean its not as if Evra got a 4 game ban and Fergie himself a 2 game touchline ban it's quite obvious he has a hold over all the ref's and the FA themselves.

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  • 101. At 1:10pm on 12 Jan 2009, gavin_cox wrote:

    Being a Liverpool fan I have to say that I was cringing when Rafa was on one and he did look a little too emotional. Maybe it’s the language thing.

    Rafa needs to be more adventurous with his tactics. Playing one up front all the time, either at home or away to the lesser teams is just unforgivable. He even employed it against 10-man Arsenal when they were there to be beat. What a surprise he seems happy with yet another point. Come on Rafa push us forward!

    Having watched yesterdays game, I find our beautiful game is in a dire state. It is becoming increasing tedious to watch £100k a week players diving around and killing the sport.

    Both teams are supposed to be at the pinnacle of the best league in the world. Not a good advert for the premiership at all!

    There were eight bookings in the game. I did not see one tackle that warranted a yellow card. Was there any difference in Ronaldo’s tackle on Lampard than Lampards on Ronaldo’s in the first 5 minutes? The only difference is that Ronaldo rolls around, it is embarrassing.

    If a player is seen to be diving and it is not spotted by the ref then a yellow card should given after the game. The referees get a hard time and this is due to them being constantly conned by diving players. Action is needed before it kills the game.

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  • 102. At 1:11pm on 12 Jan 2009, StevenT wrote:

    28. At 11:08am on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:
    i personally think in attracting the media to his 'war of words' with fergie benitez was trying to relieve the pressure of intense media attention from his players, now if we drop points people are saying its benitez' fault. not the players. maybe this will enable them to get on with the job at hand for the next 4 months



    Spot on - that's exactly what I think he was trying to do.

    Fergie started the old "your players don't have the experience" line, and rather than respond to that, he has tried to take the focus away from the players and on to him and Ferguson - while it doesn't look a masterstroke, it is early days, and if he can keep the focus away from the players it should prove beneficial to them in the long run.

    Yes, 0-0 at Stoke looks bad, but look at some of the other results - United lost at Everton, where Liverpool won, lost at Arsenal, where Liverpool drew - its not the be-all and end-all, and I'd rather have the points than the games in hand.

    The fact that we're currently top, and last season's top scorer has hardly kicked a ball in the league this season, only bodes well - get Torres fit and playing, and we've got even more of a chance.

    I'm just happy we're in with a chance - better than the last lot of years!

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  • 103. At 1:13pm on 12 Jan 2009, StevenT wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 104. At 1:13pm on 12 Jan 2009, gavin_cox wrote:

    Has the moderator popped to lunch? (again!).

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  • 105. At 1:13pm on 12 Jan 2009, 21shergar wrote:

    All Chelsea fans need to be worried.

    It is interesting to compare and contrast Rafa Benitez and LFS. Even if you believe that Rafa's comments last week were a sign of nerves (and I'm not sure I accept that), at least they were edgy and aggressive. But when I heard LFS after the game yesterday the adjective that came to mind was "endearing".

    While I think there is always a place in society for self-effacing individuals, successful football management is not a field where this trait generally bears fruit. LFS' relatively poor English does not help (it's better than my Portuguese, however), but when the same adjective as befits Bagpuss can be applied to the Chelsea manager, the club's supporters should be anxious.

    To me LFS also appears to be on a slightly disassociated track, as if he doesn't quite engage his heart and soul in the enterprise in the same way as, say Rafa and SAF. It would be unfair to suggest he is simply biding his time, until retirement, on a large salary, but there is an element of that in his words and body language.

    Nevertheless, as a supporter of NUFC, I must confess that I would exchange Newcastle's position for Chelsea's in the blink of an eye! Needless to say, the mantra for any Magpie is to keep your hopes high, but your expectations low: the trouble for Chelsea is that both are in the stratosphere.

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  • 106. At 1:15pm on 12 Jan 2009, gavin_cox wrote:

    I wonder what he/she is having?

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  • 107. At 1:20pm on 12 Jan 2009, chips_in_the_queue wrote:

    Re. 61, Rafaslovechild

    Benitez didn't state facts though.

    CLAIM: "We have seen players sent off at Old Trafford and we do not see our opponents sent off."

    FACT: No players have been sent off at Old Trafford all season in the Premiership (only Pogatetz in the Carling Cup) and two opposition players have been sent off at Anfield. In fact, the stats shows that Liverpool have had Vidic (h) Cahill (a) Zabaleta (a) Valencia (h) and Adebayor (a) sent off against them this season and no Liverpool players have seen red. United have just had Wilkinson (a) sent off against them, while Vidic Vidic (a) and Ronaldo (a) have been shown red. So Liverpool are +5 when it comes to red cards, United -1.


    CLAIM: "He (Ferguson) is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things."

    FACT: Ferguson was charged for making disparaging remarks about Atkinson after the FA quarter-final against Portsmouth last season but was cleared by an independent commission, not the FA. This season Moyes (£5000), Brown (£1000), Keane (no fine) and Joe Kinnear (two charges outstanding) have all been held to task but the only manager who has received a touchline ban is Ferguson, plus a £10,000 fine.


    re. 72, Drew_C

    "I see few comments on a rather one-sided refereeing display yesterday"

    United had two goals wrongly disallowed and should have been awarded a penalty when Ronaldo was hauled down (instead the ref gave a freekick against and gave him a yellow card!?). Rooney should have got booked for dissent in the first half but to suggest that Howard Webb was on United's side suggests you have been listening too much to Benitez's factually incorrect conspiracies.

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  • 108. At 1:20pm on 12 Jan 2009, merseyredmanc wrote:

    hahahahah oh dear!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 109. At 1:21pm on 12 Jan 2009, merseyredmanc wrote:

    oh dear

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  • 110. At 1:21pm on 12 Jan 2009, StattoCampo wrote:

    Great point neilrate - When I saw the teams I thought Ferguson was bonkers to leave Carrick and Anderson out, and play Giggs. And yet Giggs won man of the match.

    I think United are being vastly underrated. i thought they were fantastic. Rooney had a great game, so did Giggs, Park, Vidic and Evra. I actually thought Berbatov did well, bar a couple of missed chances.

    Just because you don't see Ronaldo flying past players at will, that doesn't mean United aren't functioning.

    Re. Rafa's rant, who cares? It won't make any difference in the long run. Liverpool were never going to be good enough to hold off United.

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  • 111. At 1:23pm on 12 Jan 2009, robuk794 wrote:

    Apologies if somebody has already mentioned this, haven't read every post!!

    Let's not get too carried away with this result, lets remember, Liverpool were being hailed as genuine title contenders after the 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle, i for one will be exercising some cautious optimism as both Wigan and Bolton are tricky games were we may slip up.

    That said, it's always nice to crush your rivals!! Great job so far boys!!

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  • 112. At 1:26pm on 12 Jan 2009, philipmalala wrote:

    Benitez will have no more outbursts now that chel[sick] were outwashed. What agame? scolari should be prepearing his way out before he is shone the door.


    philo [SPY]

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  • 113. At 1:26pm on 12 Jan 2009, matchboxmaster wrote:

    Phil,

    I am not sure what tactics Fergie will use for the rest of the season but he has many options in the centre of the pitch!

    Scholes: can still control most games
    Carrick: great passer of the ball
    Anderson: very strong and full of energy
    Fletcher: ups his performances for big games
    Giggs: great experience, can make breaks and good through balls
    O Shea: Good height and an ok sub to bring on to tighten things up

    This is all without Hargreaves too. Fergie has so many options which will be crucial when the fixture list becomes even more congested towards the end of the season.

    With regards to Chelsea: Maybe it is just me but I don't see Lampard making as many bursts into the box and although Mikel is a decent holding player I think he slows down the pace of Chelsea moves too much. How often do we see Mikel making a quick pass to a full back of other midfielder? Not very often in my opinion.

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  • 114. At 1:32pm on 12 Jan 2009, scull55 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 115. At 1:35pm on 12 Jan 2009, StevenT wrote:

    28. At 11:08am on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:
    i personally think in attracting the media to his 'war of words' with fergie benitez was trying to relieve the pressure of intense media attention from his players, now if we drop points people are saying its benitez' fault. not the players. maybe this will enable them to get on with the job at hand for the next 4 months

    Spot on - that's exactly what I think he was trying to do.

    Fergie started the old "your players don't have the experience" line, and rather than respond to that, he has tried to take the focus away from the players and on to him and Ferguson - while it doesn't look a masterstroke, it is early days, and if he can keep the focus away from the players it should prove beneficial to them in the long run.

    Yes, 0-0 at Stoke looks bad, but look at some of the other results - United lost points at Everton, where Liverpool won, lost at Arsenal, where Liverpool drew - its not the be-all and end-all, and I'd rather have the points than the games in hand.

    The fact that we're currently top, and last season's top scorer has hardly kicked a ball in the league this season, only bodes well - get Torres fit and playing, and we've got even more of a chance.

    I'm just happy we're in with a chance - better than the last lot of years!

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  • 116. At 1:35pm on 12 Jan 2009, StevenT wrote:

    28. At 11:08am on 12 Jan 2009, anfieldsean wrote:
    i personally think in attracting the media to his 'war of words' with fergie benitez was trying to relieve the pressure of intense media attention from his players, now if we drop points people are saying its benitez' fault. not the players. maybe this will enable them to get on with the job at hand for the next 4 months

    -----------------------------

    Spot on - that's exactly what I think he was trying to do.

    Fergie started the old "your players don't have the experience" line, and rather than respond to that, he has tried to take the focus away from the players and on to him and Ferguson - while it doesn't look a masterstroke, it is early days, and if he can keep the focus away from the players it should prove beneficial to them in the long run.

    Yes, 0-0 at Stoke looks bad, but look at some of the other results - United lost points at Everton, where Liverpool won, lost at Arsenal, where Liverpool drew - its not the be-all and end-all, and I'd rather have the points than the games in hand.

    The fact that we're currently top, and last season's top scorer has hardly kicked a ball in the league this season, only bodes well - get Torres fit and playing, and we've got even more of a chance.

    I'm just happy we're in with a chance - better than the last lot of years!

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  • 117. At 1:39pm on 12 Jan 2009, TheDodgyDealer wrote:

    Although there is stil room for improvement at United, I think this was one of our best performances of the seasom, albeit made easy by a poor Chelsea display.

    As for Rafa's so called rant, all he's achieved is showing Fergie how easy it is to wind him up. Also, a word of advice Rafa.........if you're going to suggest United are scared of Liverpool, try making sure you're in better form first or you'll end up looking a bit silly!

    After all, Rafa claims he's only saying what many are thinking, and he may have a point. However was Fergie not only saying what most people were thinking when he said he thought Liverpool would fade under the pressure?

    I know a few Liverpool fans and not many of them think their team will last the distance.........

    Rafa 0 Fergie 1 (Benitez og)

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  • 118. At 1:42pm on 12 Jan 2009, U13767663 wrote:

    I think the league tabel will finish

    United 88 points
    Liverpool 82 points
    Chelsea 77
    Villa 72
    Arsenal 70


    United will clear the whole lot this season, Barca are now quaking in their boots

    Spurs will be wiped off the map at Wembley

    The FA cup against Spurs at OT will result in a 4-0 drubbing

    Who is the best team in the Universe??

    Man United!..... United WE Stand ;)

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  • 119. At 1:42pm on 12 Jan 2009, Andy wrote:

    "where has rafa been this season, did he not see the charges against unite, ie evra for one, and the touchline ban and the warning of fergies future conduct."

    Yes he did see them, what do you think he was doing while recovering from his gallstones. It looks like he spent the time reviewing video that he probably doesn't have time to normally.

    Evra's ban? Why did it take so long to get it through the system?

    Fergies ban? It was the 3rd time that he had done it so why was it the first time he was charged? When he got his 2 match ban, why was he allowed to stay on the touchline for the Manchester Derby and Villa games? All the other bans that were issued that day came in straight away. As far as future conduct is concerned his previous conduct should be taken into account, not results or trophy success before people point that direction.

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  • 120. At 1:43pm on 12 Jan 2009, G_is_God wrote:

    'One other point - did chelsea take Rafa's advice on the zonal marking? If so it didn't do them much good!'

    They obviously didnt, since Liverpool's defensive record is much better than chelsea's this year. But bless you for trying.

    As for Rafa's 'rant' - at least he had the guts to point out what is obvious to everyone else (bar a man ure fan).

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  • 121. At 1:44pm on 12 Jan 2009, ciaranmc20 wrote:

    just a mention on fergies mind games. It wasn't only keegan that he has had an affect on.
    He has always tried it on with varying results. I always thought wenger felt extra pressureand put more pressure onto his own players when he was battling against fergusan. The did drop a lot of points in the 02/03 season. And in the build up of the champs league last season fergie seemed so relaxed about the game and in the press confereces (i think he put it on a bit) and this seemed to rile grant a bit.

    But i think it helped utds performance by taking pressure off the players rather than hindering liverpools. liverpool and chelsea and arsenal or whoever wouldn't lose a match because of a comment from a manager but if they get riled that can do all sorts for utds players in terms of confidence

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  • 122. At 1:52pm on 12 Jan 2009, mohtechnix wrote:

    Phil,

    Why are comments nos 94 - 97 still awaiting moderation when 113 have been moderated and published? is this based on the contents of their comments cos my comments was absolutely neutral.

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  • 123. At 1:55pm on 12 Jan 2009, Alex wrote:

    First of all, no.38 and anyone else picking holes in Rafa's arguments seem to be forgetting that English is not his first language and even if he did not explain himself fully, everyone understands his argument. It is well known throughout England that United and Ferguson get away with actions and comments that other clubs quite simply don't. Personally, I think Rafa's comments were poorly timed and played into United's hands this weekend, but you will find very few football fans disagreeing with them outside Old Trafford.
    And lets not get carried away, United can take at best a 1 point lead over Liverpool with their games in hand and one poor performance at Stoke is certainly not enough to write off their title chances.

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  • 124. At 1:55pm on 12 Jan 2009, columbus7 wrote:

    united's strength is always the momentum they gain in the second half of the season so liverpool needed to be much further ahead at this stage to have a chance of winning

    given that united had a poor start to the season and liverpool had one of their best but haven't managed to build a lead, now that united are coming into form they have no chance.

    chelsea are still our main rivals, especially if drogba gets going again

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  • 125. At 1:59pm on 12 Jan 2009, The Best team evra wrote:

    Good article Phil. just wanted to ask is it me or have we played Liverpool and not Chelsea? The responses on here have all been aimed at Rafa but in actual fact we've just turned Chelsea over. By most people's responses it's as if we had just beaten Liverpool. This is all down to Rafa berating Man United with his so called calm and calculated rant which sounds Parodoxical to me and can't for the life of me understand why anyone would give him credit after such an obtuse action. My message for you Rafa is "focus on the your job at hand never allow yourself to be distracted by the goings on of your rivals". It's as if he completely allowed himself to lose focus of the Stoke game and instead focus on the big clash yesterday.

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  • 126. At 1:59pm on 12 Jan 2009, Ydiss wrote:

    To 51 (cloughtheking)

    I appreciate your unbiased views on these discussions but I fail to see how Liverpool as a whole entity are NOT suffering a descent - They've dropped 10/24 points in 8 games, United have dropped just 4. That shows a very clear trend to me and Rafa's speech is clearly a part of that trend.

    A man in full control of himself would not have risen to SAF's taunt that Liverpool were scared, because recent results show they clearly are dropping points at an alarming rate compared to United. A manager in control would have either said he has no comment or would have retorted with a short, witty reply with a smile.

    What did Rafa do?

    He directly attacked SAF and the FA.

    I see that as nothing short of abject failure to control his emotions at a time when Liverpool require stability to prevent any further points haemorrhage. Did SAF intend that? Is SAF a mastermind at winding other managers up? Heh, I don't see much evidence to the contrary. It's worked for him consistently over the years and no manager that beat him to the title in the past has avoided return failure at the hands of SAF. Even the special one tasted defeat before he left Chelsea.

    Of course his comments about Liverpool were intended to unsettle Rafa and I cannot for the life of me see how Rafa's reply, compounded with his team's performance in contrast to United's, could be seen as anything short of a total loss of control.

    Is this a genius at work? I don't think so. I see it as a man explosing the weakness of others and that says a lot more about the "others" than it does about SAF.

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  • 127. At 2:00pm on 12 Jan 2009, memyselfandpie wrote:

    Full of sound and fury - signifying.... nothing.

    That's old Raff's mad rant for you.

    I challenge Macnulty - still apparently desperate to cling on to the idea of Raffa making even ONE valid point during his tasteless tirade against a fellow pro - to take the Spaniard's dossier and analyse the 'facts'.

    A lot of conjecture, self contradictory and interchangeable with himself and Wenger at the very least.

    None of what he said - even if it were true - would be relevant to Liverpool f.c. And as we have seen it's only served to rev his rivals up and put unnecessary pressure on his own team.

    In short, a massive unqualified disaster of a showing.

    I don't say this lightly: sack him if you want any chance whatsoever of winning the Premier League in the next five years.

    Liverpool are two world class players away from being a world class side.

    Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard and Torres can be added to over a couple of seasons IF the board have any kind of faith in Benitez - does anyone seriously believe that's going to be the case come May?

    He nearly offloaded Alonso in the summer: what happens if he continues to shine? Will his loyalties continue to lie with a trophyless Benitez led side if the big boys come a knocking?? And is Torres going to be happy playing for the English version of Athletico all his career? Doubtful.

    Do not trust in Raffa, he's a liability at this level.

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  • 128. At 2:02pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

    MY GOD THIS IS SO BIASED. people are suggesting that Ferguson getting a touchline ban and evra getting charged is enough to prove rafa wrong. what an absolute joke, ferguson complains about refereing every single game and the fixtures every single press conference, and confronts referees almost every game at old trafford. your players confront referees and linesman most games without foul and rooney is by far the worst sportsman in the premier league. and you think your facts about fergusons touchline ban and evras fight make this all void?

    your so thick.

    im going to stop using the biased BBC cos its so pathetic. all theyve got is shearer talking about liverpools "new" system of using to holding midfeilders (what an idiot). and liniker acting like a (cant swear).

    ITVs much better anyway, champions league and FA cup, not just highlights aswell

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  • 129. At 2:05pm on 12 Jan 2009, Kromkamp David wrote:

    I know you've got to write a regular blog and this is obviously the story to write about and the angle to take but this is pretty predictable, stale stuff.

    Benitez sounded far from someone who's been dealth a fatal blow in his post-match interview on Saturday evening. He sounds up for the fight to me. And judging by Riera's comments today, so are the players. Liverpool's performance was on a par with what United had served up a week or so earlier. A United win wasn't actually such a terrible result for Liverpool yesterday either. Our lead at the top has actually increased. United will go in favourites for the games against Wigan and Bolton but I'd still much rather be in our position than theirs.

    I hope Rafa continues to say whatever he feels necessary. Ferguson has done so for years and if our journalists had more courage perhaps he would have been held more properly account for it. Benitez is more than up for a battle, he was upto is in Spain and against all odds won the war. I'm glad the likes of you are underestimating him Phil, pitching this as the behemoth Ferguson crushing all in his path as usual.

    It's this type of simplistic, ignorant analysis which means there's an attitude in this country that only Ferguson can play mind games, everyone else is playing into his hands. Benitez is brighter than you give him credit for.

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  • 130. At 2:07pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

    "116. At 1:35pm on 12 Jan 2009, stetod"

    i agree aswell mate, i think its already taking the attention off the players, no ones even mentioned the fact that keane was on the bench again.

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  • 131. At 2:12pm on 12 Jan 2009, Mulletinho wrote:

    I've read all of these posts (yes, I'm bored at work) and AnfieldSean's comments are spot on. Had to laugh at PhilToon's as well...promises to be a fantastic title run-in!

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  • 132. At 2:13pm on 12 Jan 2009, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:

    UNITED!!!

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  • 133. At 2:15pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

    "Kromkamp David"

    Quality post mate!

    Rafa's much more clever than they give him credit, hes already had experience with this at Valencia with the directors and before with liverpool when he openly critisised mourinhio and chelsea.

    Rafas got plenty of experience, 2 la ligas, the champions league the FA cup, amoungst many others.

    Fergusons loosing the battle and his embarresing response yesterday only backs up what Benitez has said.

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  • 134. At 2:19pm on 12 Jan 2009, whatbill wrote:

    #120 - Thank you so much for blessing me for trying. Although chelsea were awful, their defence has still been better than Liverpool's this season, as has United's.

    Kevin Keegan had guts and it didn't help him much. Rafa's job is to win the premiership, not make selective and counterproductive comments. Whether he was morally right to do so or not, if it damaged his teams chances then it was foolish.

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  • 135. At 2:20pm on 12 Jan 2009, 10ANDCOUNTING wrote:

    Anyone smell a repeat of Arsenals story last season?

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  • 136. At 2:22pm on 12 Jan 2009, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    To matchboxmaster. Ferguson will obviously adjust his tactics from game to game, but one thing is certain, the presence of men like Carrick, O'Shea, Scholes, Tevez and Anderson on the bench demonstrates his huge range of options.

    United also coped well with the loss of injured Rio Ferdinand, with Jonny Evans showing he is another youngster with great potential.

    It certainly shone a harsh light on Chelsea's resources.

    Chelsea's reserves were nowhere near as strong - and where are their youngsters who are ready to step in and replace the established stars?

    Have Chelsea got a strategy for the future or have they simply planned for the present, fuelled by Roman Abramovich's billions?

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  • 137. At 2:23pm on 12 Jan 2009, Ydiss wrote:

    United lost at Everton, where Liverpool won

    -------------------------------

    I think you'll find that was a draw between United and Everton.

    United have only lost two games, both away and both (arguably) the toughest games they'll have all season, against your lot and Arsenal. They even managed to get a point at Chelsea, which is a great result for anyone.

    The trend since losing to Arsenal has been this:

    1) Win at home, with occasionally tough games where we have to battle it out to nick a late winner
    2) Struggle to win away, but never come close to losing

    However bad that might appear on paper, it's resulted in United over-turning a very bad start to the season, two big losses to you and Arsenal, and we now have a run-in that excludes any seriously difficult away fixtures (when compared to our first-half of the season).

    That draw against Everton was a blip but hey, we took 6 points from Stoke this season.

    How many did you manage, again?

    I think that proves it's pointless to compare fixtures in this way; the only thing that matters is the points you have, not who you take them from. Right now, you have more - you'd best hope that remains the case come kick off for your next fixture. If United take the lead by then they will likely hold it until you come to OT and, no matter what spin people wish to put on Liverpool's current mentality, you'll be under pressure to get a win.

    And I can tell you that won't be an easy task for you.

    If you fail? The title is in United's hands and when that's the case it's rare they throw it away in the run-in. United are beginning to see the fruits of their tough first-half season fixture list. Only losing two out of three of the toughest away fixtures and then drawing a couple other tough away fixtures was a decent enough showing. Come next Saturday it might even be enough to still see United top on points and level on games.

    Puts the "loss" we never had against Everton quite into perspective, doesn't it?

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  • 138. At 2:25pm on 12 Jan 2009, shanklygates5 wrote:

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  • 139. At 2:31pm on 12 Jan 2009, ojohnnyboy wrote:

    united were fantastic yesterday and i believe that the title is on its way back to old trafford.

    liverpool cannot maintain a proper title challenge, from my point of view the problem for liverpool is...

    1, your manager changes the team around far too much.

    2, you havent got any players of title winning experience, players who knows what it tkes to win the league.

    3, your manager has lost the plot, who starts mind games in january???
    the amount of pressure he's put himslef and the team under now is immense.

    it all bodes well for united with their vast experience and depth of squad.

    C'mon UNITED!!!

    CHAMPIONS OF ENGLAND
    CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE
    CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD

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  • 140. At 2:32pm on 12 Jan 2009, mohtechnix wrote:

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  • 141. At 2:32pm on 12 Jan 2009, Ydiss wrote:

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  • 142. At 2:36pm on 12 Jan 2009, Danshevik wrote:

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  • 143. At 2:38pm on 12 Jan 2009, mightyIGOR_IGOR_IGOR wrote:

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  • 144. At 2:39pm on 12 Jan 2009, DavidBeckhamsBeard wrote:

    Phil, the one thing you can't say about chelsea is that they didn't invest in the future. Like their 1st team they just did it poorly!

    They pay Arnesen shed loads to run their academy, he employed over 20 scouts worldwide to cherry pick the "best" young players.

    They gave Leeds Utd £5m for their 2 youngsters (woods and taiwo) when they were 16.

    Young imports such as Sahar, Di Santo, ferreria also came in at a premium. And now they are trying to get rid of them asap.

    John Terry was possibly the last properly home grown player that they have produced. Thats worse than arsenal!

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  • 145. At 2:40pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

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  • 146. At 2:43pm on 12 Jan 2009, TotalFootball91 wrote:

    Liverpool_andy
    Utd fans always go on about Liverpool fans talking about history but in our most recent game we beat you!

    Typical Utd fan, hypocrite.



    That is called recent history. Those results have happened over the past 3-4 years, not almost 19 years ago when Liverpool last won a title.

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  • 147. At 2:44pm on 12 Jan 2009, cloughtheking wrote:

    126. (YdissDC)

    I had and have no comment as to whether or not Liverpool are in a descent in terms of thier recent points to games ratio.

    I would disagree, however that Rafa has lost control in making his comments - his notes were prepared and the content more or less spot on. For a classic example of a man losing it - see Fergie after the home FA cup defeat by Portsmouth last year.

    Rafa could have expanded further to mention the ridiculous leniency from referees (home and away) on Rooneys persistently dangerous tackling and particularly his disrespect for officials - maybe he is saving that for another time.

    It is most likely that Rafas intention was, as somebody has already stated - to shift the focus from the players to the managers.
    If so, he has certainly managed to do so.

    Interesting also that Fergie sees any challenge to his self appointed authority as
    'disturbed' and 'ridiculous'......I mean, how dare they?

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  • 148. At 2:48pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

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  • 149. At 2:48pm on 12 Jan 2009, Ydiss wrote:

    To 129:

    I'd say the reason Ferguson is more often thought of as the master at mind games is because he's won the most trophies of all current managers in the Premier League, by a very long shot (particularly Premier Crowns). Even when the special one won it twice in a row, the war wasn't really against SAF as United were rebuilding and seriously under par for those two seasons.

    The only manager that could be said to have any edge over SAF in the last 18 years has been Wenger, who recently hasn't come close to unnerving him. It's quite clear why SAF tends to be the one that people claim to be the master at winding up his opponents. He does it with regularity and it says more about his opponents than it does for SAF.

    And you might prefer to be in your position right now, SAF would agree with you inasmuch as having points in the bag is better than games in hand. But consider our fixture list thus far and with what is yet to come, compared to yours. United have played the toughest games they're likely to have all season, already. Come Saturday United might well be on top - with their toughest games to come all at home, with very few titanic struggles to come away.

    Don't know about you but I'd say that is the position I'd rather be in. You need to hope United drop points against Bolton and Wigan. If they do not you'll be under huge pressure to win your game. A pressure I honestly don't think your lot have the experience to handle, yet.

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  • 150. At 2:48pm on 12 Jan 2009, Brammer2 wrote:

    United are a completely different side with Evra in the team and will only continue to get better from this point onwards. Vidic and Evans never looked like conceding and Giggs and Fletcher ran the show from the middle of the park. Even without Ronaldo, Rooney, Berbatov and Tevez firing on all cylinders we still get the job done, something that is missing from a Liverpool side who struggle without their best two players performing well!

    The only thing that still amazes me is that only Liverpool fans think they have a team worthy of winning the title when they only have two world class players. Torres and Gerrard are the only two players that would get in the Chelsea and United teams.

    If Liverpool dont perform they dont win - simple as

    United get the job done almost all of the time - this is the difference Champions and 3rd place.

    It doesnt mean anything if you win yours games against the big 4 but then draw away at stoke.

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  • 151. At 2:49pm on 12 Jan 2009, matchboxmaster wrote:

    I can't remember many teenagers that Chelsea have singed that have gone on to be great players? Terry is the only one that has come right through the ranks. At first glance it looks like they look to buy established players first, or have not produced or bought teenagers that are good enough. They may have been planning for the future with, but I don't think they are doing a very good job of it.

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  • 152. At 2:55pm on 12 Jan 2009, Storm of Swords wrote:

    Phil you say that Benitez could be convinced his side can reclaim the title. Ummm I can't remember Liverpool ever winning the Premiership. The only teams who have won it are Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea and Blackburn. The Premiership isn't the old First Division, it's a far more difficult and expanded competition and harder to win. Liverpool have won league titles but let's not credit them with winning the league in the form of the Premiership, theres nothing for them to reclaim, just to win for the first time.

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  • 153. At 2:57pm on 12 Jan 2009, skittle_singh wrote:

    Ok, United deserved to win, there's no doubt about that. A not so straightforard reason to why chelsea lost yesterday was this 4-1-4-1 system that scolari likes to us alot. Maybe Scolari should consider the use of width in the midfield as well as our full backs. If Scolari does decide to revert to a 4-4-2 he should drop the likes of Ballack and at this moment in time Deco. They really should play With Bosingwa, Terry, Carvalho, A.Cole at the back. In the midfield J.Cole, Mikel (M. Essien), Lampard, Kalou (Malouda) now up front Drogba and Anelka should play upfront with Anelka just in behind Drogba.

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  • 154. At 2:59pm on 12 Jan 2009, Richyburger wrote:

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  • 155. At 3:06pm on 12 Jan 2009, LincRed wrote:

    "That is called recent history. Those results have happened over the past 3-4 years, not almost 19 years ago when Liverpool last won a title. "

    So what you're saying is that we're only allowed to discuss the history that looks favourably on your team?

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  • 156. At 3:11pm on 12 Jan 2009, rosey05 wrote:

    one thing i do hate about the results of this weekend is everyone's knee-jerk reactions to 1 or 2 results. If you are to believe what you read in the papers off the back of this weekends results you would think United have already caught up the 5 point gap on Liverpool and the title race is over because Liverpool dropped points at Stoke. If there is one thing you can be sure of is that this season has been the most exciting and unpredictable for many a year and between now and the end of the season there will b more upsets!

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  • 157. At 3:13pm on 12 Jan 2009, Ydiss wrote:

    147: But the point remains that Rafa's comments are based on very little fact and could very easily be reversed and applied directly back at him and any number of top-flight managers.

    I fail to see how anyone can prove United get leniency from refs. Yesterday's game was case in point, at OT and clearly United had plenty of decisions go against them. Bad refereeing decisions are a part of the game. All managers have a go at refs for them, not just SAF.

    Hypocrasy is not a sign of control. Rafa would have done better to have not risen to SAF's comments or at least respond in-kind. You can disagree with that if you want; many are on the anti-United bandwagon when it comes to conspiracies about how SAF holds some imaginary sway over the FA (quite what he'd manage to do to punish the FA is beyond me, perhaps he is a mafia boss?)

    The game of football has many flaws in those that partake in it, Rafa included. He had no call, nor need, to start having a go at SAF and the FA. Much like SAF doesn't have any call to do the same, as he can do sometimes. I'm adult enough to recognise a man losing control, even if it's SAF.

    This particular "battle" shows SAF is the only one in control right now and no "facts" are needed to tell me that. Just plain old behavioural traits are enough. Seen this kind of thing going on for years and it amuses me no end, to the point that I think it's pointless - yet SAF's got the results and trophies to back up his motivation for toying with opposing managers.

    Does it make a difference?

    I choose to believe it does but only because the opposing managers let it. I fail to see how Benitez gained anything from his outburst, no matter how calmly he might have delivered it. He might not have lost anything either, but if all he has gained is the respect from people that believe in the conspiracies against United?

    He's welcome to it. It actually means little because none of it is based on any truth and any that IS based on truth can be said about many others, including himself.

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  • 158. At 3:13pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

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  • 159. At 3:13pm on 12 Jan 2009, wesley7 wrote:

    When the Fat Lady Sings,Liverpool will be a distant memory.........................again.

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  • 160. At 3:13pm on 12 Jan 2009, DavidBeckhamsBeard wrote:

    Completely agree Brammer2

    o'shea despite being a good left back has ruined so many attacks while deputising for Evra. All defenders have had to do is put o'shea on his right foot and the impetus from the attack has gone.

    I can'ty wait until Fabio gets fit and into the team, him and Rafael seem like Evra clones (that can shoot better!) and to see them, both bucaneering down both flanks will be a joy to watch!

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  • 161. At 3:13pm on 12 Jan 2009, lcllover wrote:

    LOVIN Philtoon comments, he's a propa joker!!!! UP THE HEED

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  • 162. At 3:17pm on 12 Jan 2009, Ydiss wrote:

    150. How right you are about Evra and the effect he has on our team! I was always a fan of Heinze and was sorry to see him replaced so quickly by Evra but how he has proved my sorrow wrong!

    He's excellent going forward and strong at the back. Some of his runs and movement off the ball is breath-taking and he has been sorely missed. Glad to see him back. The only injured player I've not missed has been Ferdinand. That's no slight on him but a huge amount of praise and respect to Evans; he's shown he's got what it takes to play for United and he was brilliant yesterday.

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  • 163. At 3:19pm on 12 Jan 2009, DJL WOLF wrote:

    The whole Benitez rant was ridiculous.

    All of the big teams get favours from refs in every match. Everyone knows it.

    Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea. All football fans realise by now that when one of their teams goes to the stadium for an away game at one of the teams mentioned above, they are going to come worse off from most of the decisions.

    All of the big teams and managers are the same.

    You sing when you are winning and rant and moan when things aren't going 100% to plan.

    Personally I thought Rafa looked like a silly little kid throwing his toys out the pram in that press conference! He should have more dignity.

    The weekend's results made him look even more stupid. There is enough pressure on his Liverpool players going into the run in as they haven't experienced the pressure before........i'm sure after the whole Gerrard assault fiasco, they are thinking 'Rafa......we could have done without this mate!'

    Come on you Wolves!

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  • 164. At 3:22pm on 12 Jan 2009, LincRed wrote:

    To those who thing AF has got the better of RB, try looking up the full interview of AF. He was clearly rattled when asked to respond, he didn't know what to say, and when he did manage to splutter some words they were simply name calling. Seems RB has won this round to me.

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  • 165. At 3:24pm on 12 Jan 2009, hunk4hire wrote:

    I can see Fergie, now.

    Standing in the dressing room before the match waving a sheet of A4 paper in front of his players and screaming...."See this paper? That Spanish Scouser clown says you're SCARED!! SCARED!! Well then........are ya............ARE YA?? He's calling the World Champions scared!!"

    He'll use this as motivational fuel for the rest of the season.

    Thanks, Rafa.

    Another title on its way to Old Trafford.

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  • 166. At 3:25pm on 12 Jan 2009, lcllover wrote:

    Vidic The Destroyer!! You rock!!!!

    UP THE HEED ARMY!!!! HEED HEED

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  • 167. At 3:26pm on 12 Jan 2009, U11846789 wrote:

    umm....

    so the title race is definitely between liverpool, man u and chelsea?

    but what if chelski drop off more?

    and what if liverpool continue current form?

    the title race will then be between man u and villa.









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  • 168. At 3:29pm on 12 Jan 2009, eccles45 wrote:

    @LincRed (164)

    I thought SAF looked more embarrassed than 'rattled'. Perhaps he too wonders whether RB might be suffering from post-operative depression.

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  • 169. At 3:29pm on 12 Jan 2009, philtoon82 wrote:

    i agree with LincRed i think Rafa got his points across well and remained relatively calm whereas Fergie's face was even more red than it normally is when asked to respond.

    dont write off Liverpool OR Chelsea just yet.

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  • 170. At 3:32pm on 12 Jan 2009, Ydiss wrote:

    156:

    I don't see anyone saying anything of the sort, except the odd poster. There is no knee-jerk reaction to this weekend's results. They are what they are:

    Liverpool dropping more points and United catching up, with two games still to play.

    It's a consistent trend now, not just one weekend. Bar a couple of passionate posts from people that like to predict the future, no one has said United will now win the league or that Liverpool will throw it away.

    This weekend has, however, shown that United are rising in confidence and that Liverpool are continuing to stutter. No team has appeared willing to take this season by the scruff of the neck, so you're right that it's been close and interesting.

    It's much like when England win a game and get praise for it. A lot of people are quick to say "don't get carried away". Why can't we just celebrate the wins our favourite team has? Each victory is worth savouring and enjoying, no matter what it means in the title race. Why can't blogs state opinion and applaud/condemn the recent performances of teams? It's what football is all about.

    If we're all to hold this calm and measured approach to the events of our game we might as well all hold our tongues until May and never state an opinion until the season is sealed in fact. As a United fan I've been quietly confident that United would come good sooner or later, despite many thinking we've lost the plot, despite myself thinking we've played quite badly many times this season. I said back in October that Liverpool need to still be top by the New Year to be true contenders; that they have managed and well done to them.

    But the most recent weeks of the season have shown only one thing: United are building momentum and for all their short-comings this season the title is STILL in their own hands to win or lose. As much as there is a long way still to go, that is something SAF will be extremely happy about - considering it wasn't the case before Sunday.

    I'd say that, in and of itself, for United fans and everyone involved with the club, is something to cheer about. Long way to go, but then isn't that always the case?

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  • 171. At 3:32pm on 12 Jan 2009, lcllover wrote:

    What about Gateshead FC beating table topping Tamworth 5-1 to end their unbeaten record away from home.

    Lee Novak (scored 17 goals in 17 games) must be hottest prospect outside the Football League.

    Come on the HEED!!!!

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  • 172. At 3:33pm on 12 Jan 2009, matchboxmaster wrote:

    165

    I love it!!!

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  • 173. At 3:36pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 174. At 3:37pm on 12 Jan 2009, hazorea wrote:

    Having watched most of yesterday's game on TV I can say that United were good but not brilliant. Chelsea however were appalling compared to last year's form. Maybe they should be told that Avram Grant is still available!

    Maurice

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  • 175. At 3:38pm on 12 Jan 2009, loveyouallbutdontlie wrote:

    it's amazing. I have just read a book on deleuze which examines literacy and linguistics ... well, with persona text examining and exploring peoples guile to relative written, spoken or visual idioms ... I must say I am not amazed at the continuous post natal argument of persons displeasure relating to rafael benitez... however, I contrive to express concern to the fallacy related to the aforementioned parties that mr benitez is wise in his detract of the other party, who will not be mentioned as to sanctioning it's desire to seek attention; as being a necessity to require that which scathe first should pay the penalty of relinquishment of all product. Let the person who first did respond to a vulgar attack be that which is of leadership not that which first takes the hammer in despair. I wish Liverpool to win ALL as the repose was a requisite to a saddened and feeble member of our society that takes the sad stab to those who seek accolade in need full wish to play on the public and have a wish to create a society of pathetic persons. I feel all clubs who show football on the field and not have wasteful managers that pathetic people appease to win the day. Liverpool and Mr Benetiz we love you!!!

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  • 176. At 3:52pm on 12 Jan 2009, cloughtheking wrote:

    157. Fair enough, we can agree to disagree - but while bearing in mind my opinion is from a neutral standpoint whereas you are a united fan, and therefore (understandably) will form your opinion accordingly.

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  • 177. At 3:57pm on 12 Jan 2009, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:

    CHELSEA WILL BE STILL HURTING AFTER MAY, VIVA JT!!! 3-0 VIDIC, WAZZA, BERBA.

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  • 178. At 4:00pm on 12 Jan 2009, Richyburger wrote:

    All of the "big 4" managers and players get preferential treatment in my opinion so Benitez is hardly one to talk.

    It would be like Wenger criticising another manager who claimed they didn't see something their team did 2 feet from their face yet being able to tell that a foul had occurred against their team at the other end of the pitch with 10 players in the way.

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  • 179. At 4:01pm on 12 Jan 2009, Ruairi wrote:

    Liverpool are second rate. That Lucas wouldn't get in any top 10 midfield in England. Mascherano is overrated. They don't have decent full backs either. United are going to run away with this league.
    Liverpools biggest problem though is not their second rate players - it's their manager. I hope he stays there for many years to come.

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  • 180. At 4:01pm on 12 Jan 2009, chips_in_the_queue wrote:

    Re 163, DominicLove

    I disagree with the tired old Neil Warnock cliche that 'bigger' clubs always get the decisions. It's just the decisions that go against the 'smaller' clubs gain MUCH more press coverage.

    As an example, can you remember the controversy earlier this season when a terrible penalty decision went against Bolton at Old Trafford earlier this season? There was uproar and most newspapers/websites (including the BBC) had articles in which a furious Megson slammed the ref (respect?). There were the usual calls for 'technology' to help refs and messageboards were full of 'typical lucky decision for United' comments.

    The following home match for United was against West Brom and the score was 0-0 when Rooney had a goal wrongly ruled out for a foul on Zuiverloon. It was a terrible decision but barely a word was mentioned about it in any of the press coverage.

    The reason? United went on to win 4-0 so the decision that went against them wasn't critical. Bolton ended up losing so it was the main story.

    I do agree that home teams get more decisions, but this is the same wherever the teams are in the league table. For example, when Delap hit the bar on Saturday against Liverpool, at least three players were offside.

    To suggest that referees have some kind of agenda to help the 'big teams' is ridiculous. Sometimes people just need a convenient excuse.

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  • 181. At 4:01pm on 12 Jan 2009, lcllover wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 182. At 4:04pm on 12 Jan 2009, mohtechnix wrote:

    Oh Please!!! Enough of this Benitez rant and fergie's comment. Majority of you here have blown it out of proportion. Can you please drop this and talk about analysis of yesterday's match.....perhaps discuss and debate the title challenge, how Chelsea made us look great yesterday even though we weren't near our best like we were agianst Arsenal at Highbury..

    Also comments on what can the poor Brazillian do to rectify their defensive blunder ? as well as intense pressure from fans, pundits and press on how he should accomodate Drogba into the team even though Anelka has scored 16goals up front alone, and how they think ineffective Joe cole and Ballack deserves a place and Deco doesn't? Also how majority of the people here think Chelsea's players age and lack of wingers is a major factor impeding their title challenge even though Milan dominated the world for years with old legs and never used wingers with Cafu and Maldini runing up and down the flanks?

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  • 183. At 4:07pm on 12 Jan 2009, lingsbord wrote:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA !!!

    So rafa doesn't think he gets a fair share of refereeing decisions? Ludicrous! yes, Man Utd get more home penalties than anyone else (Liverpool very close behind) but no-one does a gerrard like Schteevie himself. Remember the opening game of the season-before-last when Rafa's reds were outplayed against a newly promoted Sheffield United? The ref was so put out by the fact that Liverpool were 1-0 down that he awarded a penalty to gerrard when by the ref's own admission there was no foul, but he knew "the intent was there" !!!

    Has a penalty ever been given AGAINST Liverpool in their entire history for "alleged intent" ?????? Of course not.

    As every football fan knows, the refs are conditioned towards a situation where if a decision is 50:50 it's just safer to award in favour of the big club so no-one incurs the wrath of Fergie/Rafa/Wenger and so on.

    I've seen some of the most hilarious refereeing decisions called in Liverpool's favour in recent years so I'm sorry Rafa, but the Respect campaign is illegitimate not because Man Utd are favoured, but because the refs don't DESERVE respect for their continued prevalence towards buckling under the pressure of high profile managers like YOU.

    I like benitez, but come on - you can't have a hatful of free penalties each season and then say your rival has the refs in his pocket. I'm no fan of fergie, but the fact that all the rest have a go at him is classic proof that he remains the man to beat.

    Maybe the atmosphere's a little thin at these dizzy heights for Rafa? Certainly Liverpool aren't used to being up there lately so perhaps the lack of oxygen has gone to his head? Whatever - the pot calling the kettle black has a hollow sound to it and I suggest it's Mr Benitez who is the "scared" one. Stick to the football Rafa, because the mindgames are beyond you mate.

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  • 184. At 4:16pm on 12 Jan 2009, Peter D wrote:

    I must have watched a different game, before Vidic scored, with all the shenanigans about the illegal corner, I thought Chelsea were the better team. Chelsea's problem was Drogba, he was falling over looking for fouls. On one occasion Frank Lampard laid off a one two into space in the box, he was sitting on the ground for no good reason. That sort of behaviour says no confidence. Another player out of sorts was Ballack, his touch was poor on many occasions.

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  • 185. At 4:16pm on 12 Jan 2009, Kapnag wrote:

    Let's also not forget that Liverpool got Styles (i think) banned from the next fixture for giving a penalty against them

    Who else has that ever happened to?

    Steven Gerrard changing Mark Clattenburg's mind and sending a player off (in a game where Everton were denied 2 blatant penalties)

    Gerrard's pre season sending off being written off by the FA, whilst Rooney and Scholes had to serve theirs

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  • 186. At 4:18pm on 12 Jan 2009, danschmidt wrote:

    Spot-on couldn't agree more with all the points you raise here.

    Fergie has to resort to name calling and it's round 1 to Fergie. Only time will tell if Rafa's comments have any effect or not - the next time Rooney stamps on someone or swearing at the officials (though he got away with that again last night) I wouldn't be surprised if a few other managers jump on this particular bandwagon in the weeks to come - we all know how the media love to stir it up on the back pages as well.

    So MU beat a very poor Chelsea there's a long way to go yet.

    .......................................................................


    I am a Red (united) so I am obviously going to be biased, but it seems that there are an awful lot of biased Liverpool fans on here.

    Chelsea were poor admittedly, but United were pretty damn good, had two goals disallowed that should have stood, and a blatant penalty not given. Now for people to say that things go our way at OT more than Liverpool's do at Anfield, Chelsea's at SB or Arsenals at the Emirates is talking nonsense.

    Once one person says something, everyone else jumps on the bandwagon. The top four all get preferencial treatment to a certain degree and the reason for that is they have earned it. They make the league what it is and unfortunately for the other clubs decisions will go their way.

    To say that United get it any more than anyone else is ridiculous. One point of reference, of which there are many, is John Terry getting his Red Card recinded when Chelsea made the appeal. How often does that happen? Never, unless you are Chelsea.

    The ball is in United's court now, and if they don't slip up the title should be staying where it belongs.

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  • 187. At 4:24pm on 12 Jan 2009, Roberto Carlos Alvarez-Galloso wrote:

    Chelsea has to find a way to reorganize and attempt to win the remaining games of the Premiership.

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  • 188. At 4:24pm on 12 Jan 2009, zane_taylor wrote:

    175:

    I had to comment, I assume you are either a non-English speaker (native) or full of s**t, because that was the biggest load of old tosh I have read on this website.

    Come on, people - Man Utd are clearly in the better position. RB is trying to enter the upper echelon on the Premiership, but his behaviour is a little alarming for those Liverpool fans who can remember what it's like to win the league.

    Also, this is not RB's worse moment - anyone recall the press conference where he just kept 'concentrate on the team and winning' - or something to that effect - over, and over. Bias aside, he's no Ferguson, Wenger or Mourinho - hell, he's no Dalglish.

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  • 189. At 4:24pm on 12 Jan 2009, Mr. Do!™ wrote:

    Ahhhh don't you just love a winner?

    The red team from Manchester is the new flavour of the month and were all supposed to sit there and obsess over the win against an insipid Chelsea. Whatever...

    What I took out of the game was the performance of Wayne Rooney, or more specifically his abuse toward the ref. On three occasions he was dropping "F" bombs at referee Howard Webb's direction only to be told to calm down or take it easy! At one stage I think he even put his arm around the petulant man in red as if to console his outbursts of passion. What a lad.

    What happened to the 'respect a ref' campaign or whatever it was called? I cannot accept that a foreign lad playing for another team would have been let off the hook so easy. Little wonder really, after all, Wayne's a pure English lad, groomed to lead the national team into the future.

    Unlike those 'continental' types who don't understand British etiquette and are often labeled as hot-headed, right? Fergie loves playing this game too, literally portraying his team as the Crusaders versus the raiding Barbarians in order to get some leniency from referees. He's been doing it for ages.

    Well what's Wayne's excuse then? Mother from Barcelona perhaps?

    Keep up the good work Wayne.

    You too Fergie.

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  • 190. At 4:27pm on 12 Jan 2009, United Dreamer wrote:

    "I would disagree, however that Rafa has lost control in making his comments - his notes were prepared and the content more or less spot on. For a classic example of a man losing it - see Fergie after the home FA cup defeat by Portsmouth last year."

    #147 don't you think it is strange that a manager has gone to the lengths Rafa has to actually produce an A4 piece of paper listing "facts" about another team? I think you miss the point totally. Why is he obsessing about United so much? Don't you think that is a bit wierd?

    On whether we get the rub of the green I suggest you check out the web site rightresult.net - it produces an alternative table based on reversing dodgy decisions. Liverpool get far more decisions going in their favour than we do.

    As an aside Gerrard had a scrap in a pub and Evra had a scrap with the Chelsea groundsman. Do you think Gerrard will get a four match ban?

    Two seasons ago both Scholes and Rooney got three match bans in the premiership for offences that occured in a pre-season friendly. Gerrard got sent off in the same tournament a season earlier and got no ban.

    We are continually being questioned about the legitimacy of Tevez's transfer yet Liverpool sign Mascherano under exactly the same circumstance and nothing is said even though as the second transfer in the same season it should not have been allowed.

    Liverpool continually get decisions going their way and if SAF could be bothered to produce an A4 page on results going Liverpool's way I'm sure he could fill two pages. If he could be bothered that is. And I'm sure there would be no question in the press that he had lost it.

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  • 191. At 4:28pm on 12 Jan 2009, DJL WOLF wrote:

    Chips in the queue

    I seem to remember hearing a few months back that United had not conceded a penalty at home for about a year or something in one of the last couple of seasons.

    How would you explain that?

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  • 192. At 4:31pm on 12 Jan 2009, DJL WOLF wrote:

    Lingsbord

    Congratulations on a great comment mate! Couldn't agree with you more!

    Chips in the queue

    you may want to read it. It sums up everything i was saying about the big teams always getting the decisions their own way.

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  • 193. At 4:37pm on 12 Jan 2009, I am a number not a free man wrote:

    Sorry, I was looking for the footy section and I seem to have stumbled into the creche ?

    'My dad's better than your dad !'

    'No may dad's better than your dad !!'

    Jeez, two men have a public argument and the whole world comes to a halt. What wa said and what was implied will have minimal - if any effect - on the destination of the Premiership trophy come the end of the season.
    The only people making hay out of this are the media, who can spin this out for weeks and weeks and weeks. Anyone who falls under the red-tops' spell is a fool.

    I'm a Manyoo fan, and I say to the usually reserved Rafa - You should have kept quiet and denied SAF the oxygen he craved. It matters not whether your 'FACTS' were indeed facts, or whether or not Manyoo receive preferential treatment form the powers-that-be. What matters is that you spent too long looking like a man with an axe to grind. You told us that SAF was spending too much time concentrating his focus on LFC, and then proceeded to dictate chapter & verse on Manyoo and their crimes against football. I'm not sure if that's ironic or not, but it's probably close.

    Almost all managers only ever recall when they were sinned against, and never when they were the sinners. It's a sad fact of football that nobody seems to have the stones to tell them that they are almost certianly talking balls when they go off on one during a press conference.

    FACT - Manyoo got 3pts from Sunday's game. Liverpool got 1pt from their game the day before.

    And that's it.

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  • 194. At 4:39pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

    lingsbord.

    "Stick to the football Rafa, because the mindgames are beyond you mate."

    have you seen the interveiws yet?

    Rafa:

    http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/news/archivedirs/news/2009/jan/10/N162801090110-0838.htm


    Fergie:

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid958992159/bctid6883609001



    you think fergies winning the mind games? i have a feeling your lying "mate".

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  • 195. At 4:46pm on 12 Jan 2009, kevthered83 wrote:

    oh dear the moderator is down the pub again. Think after this I may boycott McNulty's blogs as this pre moderation rubbish is complete nonsense!

    But whilst im here, my opinions of yesterdays game. I actually think berbatov did OK yesterday, made a lot of clever passes and through balls, allthough most of them were wrongfully disallowed for offside, or called back when the ref failed to understand the concept of playing an advantage (Howard Webb, most inconsistent referee this season...but Il save that rant for another day)

    I also agree that UTD are a different side with Evra. As well as a great defender, he provides a great attacking threat.

    Also nice to see Gary Neville put in a great stint yesterday.

    Drogba was awful, think he has his mind on is on a move away very soon.

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  • 196. At 4:50pm on 12 Jan 2009, RedFoz wrote:

    I think Rafa definitely lost it.

    For one thing, I believe that when the fixtures against the rivals are makes little difference in the end but as everyone knows SAF complained that having to play all Utd's rivals in the first half of the season was a disadvantage, I agree but only to the half season point.

    Anyway to Rafa;

    He suggests that SAF complaint about this is totally unjustified (as a utd fan I agree!), but then turns around and says the whole situation is actually in Utd's favour as Utd now have all remaining fixtures against the so called "top four" sides at home.

    Well either it has no bearing or it does, I mean the daft sod has managed to contradict himself in a pre-planned speech!!
    Not rattled!!
    I think not!

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  • 197. At 4:50pm on 12 Jan 2009, Richyburger wrote:

    175 - erm if you are trying to sound smart you have failed miserably.
    It reads like you have written your post and then used a thesaurus to come up with other words for it.
    Here's a hint though there are far better words for childish than postnatal, that just makes you sound daft.
    Oh and if you are going to do something like that punctuation and grammar help too!

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  • 198. At 5:08pm on 12 Jan 2009, v12manav wrote:

    Its FACTs , all FACTS, brave Rafa for saying the truth??? purleaseee.... stop dressing up opinions as facts, learn the truth!!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/leagues/premierleague/liverpool/4214075/Rafael-Benitezs-outburst-made-up-of-half-truths-and-disinformation-Football.html

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  • 199. At 5:09pm on 12 Jan 2009, rosey05 wrote:

    To #170

    I do agree with you on some things such as not saying anything until May. You are entitled to an opinion but i thought after reading the papers and looking over the internet today the general consensus is that many people now think Liverpool have blown it and United will now go on to win the title.

    But the truth of the matter is that United have only just played half of their season and are likely to play alot of cup matches and will always be playing catch up.

    What i disagree with you on is you said over the last couple weeks Liverpool have been stuttering but our last league result was a very convincing 5-1 win at Newcastle shortly after a 3-0 home win against Bolton so i would hardly say this 0-0 was on the cards as you are making out!

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  • 200. At 5:15pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

    MY GOD THIS IS SO BIASED. people are suggesting that Ferguson getting a touchline ban and evra getting charged is enough to prove rafa wrong. what an absolute joke, ferguson complains about refereing every single game and the fixtures every single press conference, and confronts referees almost every game at old trafford. your players confront referees and linesman most games without foul and rooney is by far the worst sportsman in the premier league. and you think your facts about fergusons touchline ban and evras fight make this all void?

    im going to stop using the biased BBC cos its so pathetic. all theyve got is shearer talking about liverpools "new" system of using to holding midfeilders (what an idiot). and liniker acting like a (cant swear).

    ITVs much better anyway, champions league and FA cup, not just highlights aswell

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  • 201. At 5:18pm on 12 Jan 2009, Ydiss wrote:

    176. "Fair enough, we can agree to disagree - but while bearing in mind my opinion is from a neutral standpoint whereas you are a united fan, and therefore (understandably) will form your opinion accordingly."

    I'm able to see SAF losing it when he went mental about the Portsmouth game last season. That was SAF losing it. He wastes his time talking like that and he doesn't help United at all by doing so. United get decisions for them as well as against. He is clearly passionate about his club and so he should be but that tirade was nothing short of a mistake.

    Same as Rafa's this time.

    It's quite one thing and, in my eyes, totally acceptable to state an opinion that a referee got a decision wrong - it's also fair enough to claim it cost you the game. But to directly attack a person or organisation over it? It's never right.

    I'm not as biased as you appear to think I am.

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  • 202. At 5:20pm on 12 Jan 2009, chips_in_the_queue wrote:

    Re 191, DominicLove

    I have never understood that type of logic!! It is not the referee's job to apply a law-of-averages mentality and give a penalty just because there hasn't been one for a while.

    I remember recently Everton went the entire season without getting a single penalty, yet they are consistently one of the top clubs.

    Plus it should also be noted that the 'big clubs' do more attacking and are therefore far more likely to get penalties, especially at home.

    It's common sense really.

    There isn't a big conspiracy. Big decisions go for the big teams and against. To suggest that referees have some kind of agenda is ridiculous.

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  • 203. At 5:24pm on 12 Jan 2009, madeiraman57 wrote:

    Some good stuff here today in response to Phil's blog.
    I concur with poster # `126 , sensible comment about the Liverpool ' Managers' statement / attack on SAF.
    It's all been done before and usually with the same result ' the Gaffer ' seems to come out on top and his team react positively again.
    As usual on these boards, we see fans taking a pop at Manchester United fans who reside anywhere than Manchester , they are tagged ' glory hunters' , how stupid and childish. I have resided on 4 continents and have met committed fans of most British clubs , locals and ex-pats - usually the connection is made via the Clubs success / exposure etc , often at an early age. What's wrong with that ?
    Me, I'm from Scarborough and a trip to OT on my 10th birthday in 1957 , did for me - forever a Man United man - through thick and thin, I will not change my colours at 61. I don't see OT often now, but still get the collar hairs erect when I remember my afternoons/ night there - same when I've seen stuff like yesterday evening on my laptop.
    Read the stats and weep .........!!

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  • 204. At 5:24pm on 12 Jan 2009, Djemba-Djemba-Djemba wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 205. At 5:27pm on 12 Jan 2009, Yamser1 wrote:


    Speaking as a United fan it still galls me to that Ferguson still refuses to talk to B.B.C.
    The powers to be at United should hold their heads in shame at his continued no shows at post match interviews.
    Sure that's right, they are terrified of him the same way that referees and journalists are too.
    A bunch of six year olds would put up a better fight at Ferguson's press conferences.

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  • 206. At 5:36pm on 12 Jan 2009, whatbill wrote:

    kigkenny - ranting about rafa's ranting will get you nowhere, go and have a cold shower.

    No one is saying Fergie is innocent of all the things Rafa accused him of. But Rafa is hardly one to talk and given the results this weekend, he probably wishes he'd stayed out of it...

    #205 - I agree fergie not speaking to the BBC is a bit foolhardy. Its gone on for far too long, they should have sorted it out by now.

    #183 - spot on.

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  • 207. At 5:45pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

    Fergusons comback was so bad that it was funny. he called Rafa rediculous........ well done? and then when asked about the facts he went all red and took ages to think then said that they wernt true and quickly chickened away and changed the conversation by sayin that he wants to concentrate on the next game.

    Fergusons been beaten at his own game. I think hes response was near perfect from liverpools point of veiw and Rafas probably laughing at it right now.

    Game set.

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  • 208. At 5:50pm on 12 Jan 2009, DDiabolik wrote:

    For all the "It's about time someone stood up to Fergie" and "Rafa stated facts" posts on here I've yet to here an explaination of why Fergie served the touchline ban following the Hull game if he is free to talk about refs as he pleases, as Benitez states? His comments today about David Gill influencing the FA now that he is on the board are laughable, how many years has Rick Parry spent on that particular board? And how many time did Liverpool complain about that? he then stated that United are feeling the pressure and this is evident by the amount oftime spent talking about Liverpool!! I maybe wrong here and perhaps taken what Benitez said the wrong way but I'm fairly certain he's spent the weekend talking constantly about United and and then reacts to his sides 0-0 at the Britannia as "important not to lose". If Liverpool fans (and Benitez) genuinely think that a point at Stoke is well earned against a difficult team then they are kidding themselves. I don't think this title race is over by a long way but if Benitez reacts like this to a throwaway jibe from Fergie at this stage then no wonder he's suffering with gallstones, if they are still in the title hunt by April he'll be sectioned.

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  • 209. At 6:03pm on 12 Jan 2009, United Dreamer wrote:

    Haha kingkennyskop - so he should have gone away and typed a response on a sheet of A4. Lol. He changed the subject because he didn't want to embarrass your manager any further! You should thank him. If he went red it was embarrassment for Rafa lol.

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  • 210. At 6:03pm on 12 Jan 2009, United Dreamer wrote:

    Good link #198. Try http://rightresult.net:)

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  • 211. At 6:19pm on 12 Jan 2009, 35mileswest wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 212. At 6:19pm on 12 Jan 2009, NamManUTD88 wrote:

    Any one else notice that it's 'Sir Alex' and not 'Mr Ferguson'... profoundly disrespectful :D

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  • 213. At 6:23pm on 12 Jan 2009, JamesRyddel wrote:

    This is without doubt one of the best articles I have ready by Mr McNulty.

    I totally agree with the points about Rafa's rant working against him, nothing stirrs the United faithful more than a ruck with Liverpool and so while Benitez might have believed he was 'doing the right thing' it has clearly backfired...

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  • 214. At 6:27pm on 12 Jan 2009, madredpig wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 215. At 7:01pm on 12 Jan 2009, KingKennysKop wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 216. At 7:05pm on 12 Jan 2009, WH wrote:

    I think people are being a bit harsh on Chelsea. 3-0 isn't a bad result away at the English, European and World Champions.

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  • 217. At 7:07pm on 12 Jan 2009, manufan_India wrote:

    As usual, Phil's post has that tinge of Liverpool bias.......Yes, Benitez will be happy to stand toe-to-toe with Fergie but Fergie won't allow it to go till the 12th round......Liverpool's title challenge will be as good as over by 1st February when they take on Chelsea....As an ardent Manufan, i am more worried about Chelsea hence even supported Liverpool to win when they played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge....The reason is simple...They have done it before and they are winners...hence know the pain of losing where as Liverpool doesn't know that...If they don't win the title this year, most of their players will have some regrets but not overly disappointed as they themselves wouldn't have expected to win the title and there lies the difference.......Good luck to Liverpool.....

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  • 218. At 7:08pm on 12 Jan 2009, GLans wrote:

    It was nice to put all the scousers down who thought they had this weekend rapped up, a nice "easy" win just as they "managed" earlier on in the season and united to draw with a side that clearly has problems in attack; with out any obvious width or imagination, and a side that carries too many big names who do not preform as they should on a regular basis.
    P.S. Chelsea drastically miss Michael Essien, Mikel is half the player.
    Much Love

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  • 219. At 7:39pm on 12 Jan 2009, John Lias wrote:

    If there is ANY subject in football as boring as managers playing " mind games " with each other I' d like to know what it is.

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  • 220. At 7:48pm on 12 Jan 2009, DDiabolik wrote:

    And just for good measure:

    "Then he was talking about the fixtures. Two years ago we were playing a lot of early kick-offs away on Saturdays when United were playing on Sundays. And we didn't say anything" - Rafa Benitez, January 9 2008.

    "I would like to ask the Premier League why is it that Liverpool always play the most fixtures away from home in an early kick-off, following an international break? We had more than the top clubs last season and we have four already to prepare for this season. It's going to be very difficult for us to win the Premier League because the other teams are so strong, but I want our supporters to know that despite the disadvantages we have, we will fight all the way" - Rafa Benitez, August 23 2007.

    "We will analyse it and talk with the Premier League. We will see how to stop this situation, but if you play on Tuesday, for example, in an international break, it will be easier. In the Champions League, if you play on Wednesday, you must play on Sunday. In Spain it's like this. The television companies decide on early kick-offs on Saturday, so someone needs to talk to them as well. If you want your teams at the top of the Champions League, then protect them" - Rafa Benitez, September 17 2007.


    Don't forget, this joker only deals in facts!

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  • 221. At 8:02pm on 12 Jan 2009, The_Master wrote:

    I just watched the full interview of Rafa... only one word...Laughable.
    He twice or thrice stated: Lets talk about facts, not mind games...
    Then at one point he says: I want to continue with the mind games....
    He contradicted himself in his statement, started by saying SAF was punished after the Hull game with a ban and a fine, then seconds later, he states one of his idiotic facts that SAF is the only manager who cannot be punished for attacking referees. Make up your mind Rafa!!! He was so nervous and scared that he couldn't read his A4 sheet of facts properly.
    So according to him LFC never gets any decisions....laughable.
    How many "penalties" have LFC been given? How many penalties have against them, they have escaped...
    Last season derby vs Everton. Gerrard walks over to the referee after being fouled and talk to him. Referee instead of taking out the yellow, sent off the player.
    Same game, two footed challenge on an everton player by Kuyt, with both foot off the pitch. Red card offence. But Kuyt get away with it. Same game again, Carragher fouled Lescott in the LFC penalty area. Blatant penalty, but not given and LFC wins the game. That's only one game I'm talking about. So no decisions ever goes for LFC.
    Rafa get your facts straight man. you are the laughing stock of all the football world at the moment. You are making yourself look so damn petty and cheap. Shame on you and LFC ( the club, since the PR staff let you walked in a conference armed with such A4 paper).

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  • 222. At 8:21pm on 12 Jan 2009, mark wrote:

    I have never seen so many one eyed posts in my life. Is it necessary to have a cycloptic disorder to be a Manchester United fan?

    For those who think that Ferguson is not obsessed with Liverpool it is necessary to just think back to the last two Champions League finals that Liverpool have contested and the comments that Ferguson made around both finals.

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  • 223. At 8:23pm on 12 Jan 2009, The Kop Prophet wrote:

    I'd like to offer some comments about Rafa and the so-called 'rant' -

    1. It's a free country! Rafa is allowed to state his opinion and it had no effect on what happened on the pitch. Our inability to beat mediocre teams had been going on long before these latest comments. In fact, the season has been unusually marked by the 'big four' dropping points and failing to capitalize when their rivals slip up.

    2. Rafa was merely stating (not ranting) what many people feel to be true. The fact that people are trying to shut him up just further indicates that he's hit a nerve. It may be inconvenient, uncomfortable perhaps, but a mere modicum of research would bear out the fact that ManU are constant benefactors in what should be equitable factors. It is also fair to point out that tyranny thrives when people bury their heads in the sand to become complicit. What happened in the Serie A was sustained by the attitude I see coming from many quarters in the power corridors of English football. If one watches a lot of premiership football matches, one will note the simple fact that ManU constantly benefit from favourable decisions on and off the pitch. It's become like clockwork and the premiership would become an even better and more competitive league if true parity is restored.

    3. He may possess some natural wit and a wily mind - but Fergie is not the psychological guru many would make him out to be. People say that he gets the better of people simply because it works in ManU's favour - but that's like rewarding a bully for his ability to abuse power. Furthermore, there is a hint of xenophobia in this rush to judgement. Wenger, Mourinho, and now Benitez are judged to have come off worse in their battles with Fergie simply because they are foreign and not always fluent in the expression of their opinions. Sadly, Rafa will be judged by his broken English - but if you listen to the crux of what he said, particularly the latest comment about conflict of interest in the FA, it's a fair point.

    4. Rafa's big mistake this weekend was not his comments about Fergie and Gill but rather his cautious team selection against Stoke. Playing the slow non-scoring Kuyt in preference to his 40 million pound strikeforce was absolute lunacy. Kuyt has neither pace or guile, doesn't win much in the air, and is not particularly good at holding the ball up. Equally strange was his decision to go with a workmanlike central midfield pairing, neither of which shows much creativity in the final third. Surely one of them would have been fine against Stoke City! Compounding the problem is extremely poor wide-play from both wingers and fullbacks. Carragher will never be a overlapping fullback and our best left back option just left for South America. Babel and Benayoun have been woefully inadequate and Rierra is patchy at best. Rafa's refusal to give Pennant (a genuine winger) a chance - or strengthen in that area - will cost us a lot more than comments made to,
    and promptly dismissed by the Fergie Association.

    5. ManU fans may mock and gloat but they know deep down that these accusations are true. Sure, ManU get a flimsy fine now and then - or a dubious decision against them on the pitch - but more often than not, they are the benefactors of dodgy decisions and administrative bias. The arrogant projection of 'untouchability' that comes from their manager and fans alike is well rooted in the fact that the playing field continually runs downhill for them. Watching a ManU game is unlike watching any other - with that feeling of inevitability clouding the game. When do they get the dodgy penalty, the offside goal, someone else's player sent off, some game-changing decision in their favour? It even happened against brave and lowly FA cup opposition lately. If anyone would dare to do the research (and they won't!), some interesting and poignant questions would get answered. How many points a season rest on those favourable decisions? After deducting those
    points, how many titles could be seen as tainted?

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  • 224. At 8:23pm on 12 Jan 2009, GudFellaRudeBoy wrote:

    Every time Benitez has an outburst, something terrible happens to Liverpool...Remember his Drogba comments!

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  • 225. At 8:31pm on 12 Jan 2009, madredpig wrote:

    Rafa stated as one of his "facts" that SAF had been charged by the FA but not penalised. Perhaps this is because you can charged but found not guilty. This is the position Gerrard is in at the moment but using Rafa's logic he should be punished because he has been charged.
    Liverpool have no chance of winning anything this year (or next): and Gerrard is getting older year by year: who have they to replace him?

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  • 226. At 8:47pm on 12 Jan 2009, merseyredmanc wrote:

    hahahahhahahahahahahahah
    hahhahahahahahahahahahaha
    hahahahhahahahahahahhahahah
    hahahahahahahahahahahahaha
    hahahahahahahahahahahahahha
    hahahahahahahahahahahahhaha

    gotta laff havent yer!!!!!!!

    champions now
    champions in may

    we are manchester united


    simple as that

    love u rafa hahhahah

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  • 227. At 8:56pm on 12 Jan 2009, Subsea75 wrote:

    Phill, so you are not a Liverpool fan then, well that narrows it down.

    But be honest,dont you think that Rafa spoke what is on the mind of every fan in favour of clean beautyfull game?

    Am sure you wont answer that, but let me remind you of some of the facts (my name is not Rafa, and i dont support Liverpool):

    1- Refs intimidations is a practice followed by united almost every game.

    2- Most of united players, are over aggrisive and dont play the beautifull game as it should be played, i need to remind you of a united player went out on the intentions of breaking a plyer's leg, and then wrote about it in a book.

    3- United tap almost every player they sign.

    4- United's intimidations is been extended to include the media, one certin broadcaster are not allowed post game interview wth AF, for reasons known to most.

    5- Gills, should never be allowed to play two roles the way he does, it is called conflict of interst.

    Need i say more !!!

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  • 228. At 9:02pm on 12 Jan 2009, stokesyla wrote:

    Regarding comments made about Gerrard's absence and the effect on Liverpool. Man Utd have played 11 competitive matches this season (not including Community Shield, which they initially drew) and have won 4, drawn 4 and lost 3, making a total of 16 points from 33 possible. Who's the one man team?

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  • 229. At 9:37pm on 12 Jan 2009, eccles45 wrote:

    Perhaps Phil could add a post to all of his blogs - mods gone home, end of debate

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  • 230. At 10:21pm on 12 Jan 2009, mightydwaarf wrote:

    @the master.
    Your evidence for Liverpool receiving favourable game changing decisions stretches to one match. Off the top of my head I can count a number of bad decisions costing Liverpool points over recent times. Vs Chelsea at Anfield last season and recently away at Bolton Reina was falsely penalised for handling outside pen area. Well Done.
    Yesterday Rooney got away with flagrant and repeated dissent and also received a booking for a reckless challenge. Might have been a different result yesterday at 1-0 with at least half hour to play and united down to ten men. I remember some palyer being sent off at OT last season for the same crimes and gaining MU a large advantage in a crucial game. I was also under the impression that kicking out at opponents after being tackled carried a red card penalty and going in dangerously studs up and catching an opponent carries at least a yellow card (ask Adebayor). This would have resulted in at least 3 red cards for a certain player in last few weeks.

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  • 231. At 10:21pm on 12 Jan 2009, vanoliIsGod wrote:

    After watching a spineless chelski on Sunday, I was forced to swallow my pride and admit that certain players in the Utd squad still have it. I didn't think Giggs would have the legs to play that role, especially in and all top4 clash and G.Neville especially, i'd written him off everytime i'd seen him this season. These boys need to get some credit for the effort and work they put it in to play at the highest club level considering there age and positions. Fullbacks in the modern game are expected to bash on up the park and it's obvious how much work is needed in the centre of the park, especially tracking back, which Giggs did immensely. Before anyone adds, i'm not a Man Utd fan, I follow hibs (insert joke insult here). I can't see past Utd for the title this season. It's a 2 horse race assuming BPS doesn't add to the squad which looks unlikely. I hope it goes close but I think these 0-0's will ultimately cost. Utd have the ability to break down teams who throw up the preverbial brick wall. It seems the Pool don't.

    GGTH :D

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  • 232. At 10:22pm on 12 Jan 2009, Davidian666 wrote:

    The-Kop-Prophet

    Your point 5 - Funnily enough we had the same opinion of Liverpool throughout the 70s and 80s when they were successful.....

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  • 233. At 00:11am on 13 Jan 2009, speakeasy_fc wrote:

    There seems to be a distinct resemblance between the current expensively assembled Real Madrid and Chelsea teams- the now all too predictable formula of billionaire owners with cash to burn and zero patience, over priced "world stars" with massively inflated ego's and a revolving door of big name managers given a season (at most) to mould the last "failures" mob of mercenaries and prima donna's into invincibles.

    I fear for Chelsea unless some stabilty and common sense is introduced very quickly....

    Beware Man City fans.....

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  • 234. At 01:09am on 13 Jan 2009, speakeasy_fc wrote:

    I would like to also add that i read your blogs regularly Phil and always thoroughly enjoy them, as i believe the majority do, maybe this is the reason you seem to attract more pedantic, small minded nit-pickers scouring your blog for errors than any other bbc blogger- maybe the sooner they realise this is a compliment, the sooner the rest of us won't have to sift through it all

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  • 235. At 02:21am on 13 Jan 2009, william harper wrote:

    i'm not impressed with the childish almost infantile buffoonery between benitez and fergusson.surely there are more important issues to discuss like points deductions for 2 bsp clubs,( remember them phil,you know the teams lower down the pyramid).this idiocy between those old clowns is of no particular interest to supporters of other clubs and it's just an aside like candy floss around a stick on a windy day or froth on coffee. it would be interesting if you did a blog on the problems of the lower league clubs because if the pyramid begins to wobble those at the top will find that it's a hell of a way down.

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  • 236. At 04:23am on 13 Jan 2009, Sevenseaman wrote:

    Vidic comes and dunks a header unchallenged into the Chelsea net, Rooney taps one between the legs of a bemused defender, and then, Berbatov completely loses his marker and turns one, that should surely have been intercepted by a defender, at right angles into the net.
    In the first half, a beautifully headed perfectly legitimate goal by Ronaldo from a corner, disallowed. United even made the supervision look foolish, the linesman was too confused to understand the inventively stylish taking of the corner by Rooney and overruled it merely because, in his opinion, the corner was not taken in the spirit of the game. Technically faultless.
    Whither Chelsea? If you are hoping to finish among the top four it already looks a tough ask. I won't blame fans who perforce have an unwelcome throwback to the Mourinho era.
    Some soul searching and some credible answers eh! Better late than never.

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  • 237. At 05:44am on 13 Jan 2009, garydean1957 wrote:

    From a neutral...

    Liverpool have missed several opportunities to pull away from Man Utd. with conservative team selections, for example, no Torres or Keane against Stoke, which suggests they start a game not wanting to lose... Man Utd's mentality is to start a game to win. Their rotation policy has tended to be in midfield, i.e. the selection of Giggs, Fletcher and Park may have surprised many, but proved effective against Chelsea.

    Chelsea, as pointed out by several posts, appear unbalanced with no plan B.

    I cant see Man Utd dropping many more points, and would not be surprised if they won the lot.

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  • 238. At 06:44am on 13 Jan 2009, DrCajetanCoelho wrote:

    Man Utd are playing superior football at the moment. Their EPL campaign has been impressive. Rooney, Ronaldo, Berbatov and Giggs are masters in the art of goal scoring. Chelsea look a bit predictable. The tenacious Essien and his surging runs are solely missed. John Terry continues to be a pillar of strength.




    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

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  • 239. At 10:03am on 13 Jan 2009, WordsofWisdom wrote:

    To all the people claiming that Benitez was taking facts, you obviously don't read the popular media that has analysed this in detail. try the following:

    'Leaving aside, for a moment, the accusation that Benitez has risen to Ferguson's bait, it is worth examining the validity of Benitez's various accusations.

    Disinformation and half-truth abound.

    Charge 1 "We have seen players sent off at Old Trafford and we do not see our opponents sent off."

    There has only been one player sent off at Old Trafford this season. In September, Middlesbrough's Emanuel Pogatetz was shown the red card after he went in two-footed on Rodrigo Possebon. The young Brazilian midfielder was lucky to avoid serious injury and both the Boro manager Gareth Southgate and Pogatetz apologised. There can be absolutely no dispute.
    Two players have been sent off for the opposition at Anfield this season. Wigan's Luis Antonio Valencia was sent off for two bookings in October in a game that Liverpool won 3-2. His first caution was for encroaching on a free-kick. Here's what Steve Bruce said about it: "I just thought all the little decisions in the second half went Liverpool's way. It's difficult enough coming to Anfield, but you need some fairness and strength. Two minutes after Valencia was dismissed, [Nabil] El Zhar tackled Mario Melchiot in the same way and... nothing. That's what annoys us to."
    The other player to be sent off at Anfield? Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United.
    Hardly fits Benitez's conspiracy, does it?

    Charge 2 "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."

    Ferguson was charged for making some pretty pathetic and disparaging remarks about Atkinson after the FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Portsmouth in March.
    Carlos Queiroz, his then assistant, was also charged. Both were later cleared by an independent commission, not the FA.
    In regards Hackett, Ferguson accused him of being biased towards Chelsea after John Terry's red card against Manchester City was rescinded. Ferguson looked paranoid – the decision to send off Terry had been considered pretty harsh – and not a little self-interested as Terry was freed up to play United. And perhaps the FA's failure to punish Ferguson was a weakness.
    But to suggest other managers get punished misses the mark. Everton's David Moyes has been fined £5,000, Phil Brown has been fined £1,000 and Roy Keane received no fine at all relating to charges of improper conduct. All were warned about their future conduct. Joe Kinnear has two charges outstanding.
    While this might show that the Respect campaign is a sham, it does not suggest the FA are cracking down on anyone. Not a touchline ban to be seen.
    Oh, except for Ferguson, who was given a two-game ban for abusing Mike Dean after a the 4-3 win over Hull in November. He also got a £10,000 fine. So he is the one manager who has been substantially punished by the FA this season.

    Charge 3 "Then he was talking about the fixtures. Two years ago we were playing a lot of early kick-offs away on Saturdays when United were playing on Sundays – and we didn't say anything."

    Ferguson's claims of an anti-United bias in the fixture schedule are laughable. But so is Benitez's counter-suggestion that United were favoured in the past. True, Liverpool did play five away fixtures in the early Saturday slot in the 2006-07 season, losing two, winning two and drawing one.
    But then United also played five away games for the Saturday matinee audience. Again, Benitez seems to have his facts wrong. He is right that United played more Sunday games that season – nine to Liverpool's five – but they are hardly advantageous if you are playing in the middle of the following week.
    Jose Mourinho used to complain that the English league disadvantaged its Champions League competitors by failing to move games that undermined preparation for big ties. But then all teams have been disadvantaged equally.
    Few managers take on Ferguson and come off unscathed. Benitez's courage might be applauded if only his claims had more substance. Ferguson is petty and irrational, and he will wind you up until you crack.

    'Rafa's body language tells it's own story
    Dr Karl Morris, a leading sports psychologist who has worked with Andrew Flintoff, examines the five key areas of Rafael Benitez’s broadside.

    THE NOTES
    The fact that Benitez has got chapter and verse written down shows that he is so wound up that he is determined to get everything off his chest. Sir Alex’s remarks have been festering and he is determined not to forget to say anything in the heat of the moment.

    THE VOICE
    Benitez starts off speaking very calmly, quite measured, but it’s almost too calm. The effort of it makes the delivery a little forced, and he can’t keep the façade up.

    RISING TO THE BAIT
    Many of the claims Sir Alex makes are for the benefit of his own team, but he’s so good at getting his rivals to the stage where they just can’t keep their feelings bottled up. He will be delighted Benitez has reacted.

    MIND GAMES
    Sir Alex knows what he’s doing when he makes these comments, but Benitez’s reaction is not one of a man confident his side can win the title. He is trying to control what is outside his sphere of influence.
    It’s a cliché in psychology but you should only worry about what you can control, not what you can’t. That Benitez is trying to influence things beyond his control suggests Sir Alex has rattled him. '

    Just because someone decides to call something a FACT to gain credibility does not mean it's a fact. Benitez has made a foll of himself and the media agree!

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  • 240. At 10:20am on 13 Jan 2009, duffy wrote:

    Liverpool will choke next. All they have left is verbal abuse.

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  • 241. At 11:05am on 13 Jan 2009, kevthered83 wrote:

    Liverpool just dont have the squad to compete...FACT.

    In FACT you could argue they dont really have a good enough starting 11 (ok 9 or 10 of them are pretty good but I dont think you have a decent 11)....FACT (ok not a fact really but it didnt stop Benitez).

    I am having a secret affair with every member of girls aloud. FACT!!!!

    Its amazing how good you can sound just by adding FACT at the end of each sentence.....FACT!

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  • 242. At 11:25am on 13 Jan 2009, United Dreamer wrote:

    WordsOfWisdom - have you told the Daily Telegraph you are plagiarising their articles? ;-)

    People who say that Rafa was calm and collected and telling the truth (at least his version) are missing the point. To go to the lengths of producing an A4 charge sheet about an opponent means they are thinking far too much about the opposition for the good of their own team. That is going to affect the focus of the manager and the team. I personally think it is more damaging than Keegan's I would love it moment.

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  • 243. At 11:32am on 13 Jan 2009, interestedboy wrote:

    Whilst the momentum obviously is with Utd now, only a fool would rule out Liverpool, or Chelsea for that matter.
    There is still a lot of football to play and none of the top teams are playing at their best.


    One thing that interested me during Utd's demolition of Chelsea was the reaction of Utd players to decisions that didn't go their way - they thought nothing of surrounding the ref and telling him what they thought of his decision. A blind man could see that Rooney was fortunate a few times not to get booked, and in turn had the gall to vent his anger at the ref. Respect campaign, anyone?

    Maybe Rafa was right...........

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  • 244. At 11:45am on 13 Jan 2009, andyd54 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 245. At 12:35pm on 13 Jan 2009, andyd54 wrote:

    anfieldsean

    in reference to your comment (36.) [and any other people slating NI],
    i appreciate the dissing of NI fans being glory hunters, and whilst also being a united fan from NI, i wouldnt mind pointing out that i know very few united fans. most of my friends happen to support chelsea (post abramovich), liverpool, tottenham and i even happen to know of more everton fans than united fans amongst my friends.

    on another note, united dont make it easy not to be supported by NI fans, bringing through and introducing us to fantastic players such as bestie, whiteside, healy and even johnny evans, to list but a few.

    to my second point, i dont remember wezhenshaw stating that o'shea or fletcher were better than mascherano/alonso, though fletcher has put 2 past arsenal in one match and o'shea has netted a few against liverpool (including one match winner), but i would say that even with o'shea and fletcher playing, united can still quite easily outperform the other top 3.

    I wouldnt quite call 1 win against an under performing united in several seasons an acheivement either...

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  • 246. At 12:56pm on 13 Jan 2009, soccer_sulk wrote:

    why is it when liverpool have a 1 point lead over chelsea it means they're gnna win the title, yet if united have a 1 point led over the scousers its bugger all?

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  • 247. At 1:17pm on 13 Jan 2009, danschmidt wrote:

    The-Kop-Prophet

    Your statement is SOOOO Liverpool biased it's a joke.

    Admittedly I am a United fan but come on mate. You cannot seriously believe that your essay is entirely correct.

    Liverpool are whiter than white are they? Liverpool never have anything go against them do they?

    Your lot get just as much going for them as any other big team do at home, FACT.

    DDiabolik 208 made a great point earlier on, if you are going to get your FACTS right it is best to check that you are not blatantly contradicting yourself before making them.

    There is as much Liverpool bias as there is United bias on here, and the FACT of the matter is that Liverpool slipped up on the weekend, United didn't and all the FACT talk has come round to bite Rafa in the a$$!

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  • 248. At 1:42pm on 13 Jan 2009, soccer_sulk wrote:

    rafa thinks the HA is soft on united and SAF.

    how many times this season have liverpool been behind or drawing, only for the ref to send off someoe on the opposing team?

    also, united players always get their game bans over inflated on many occasions (Ferdinand - 9 month ban, Evra 4 games). and Sir Alex Ferguson has had his fair share of touchline bans.
    The Fa is anything but soft on united or Sir Alex IMO

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  • 249. At 2:04pm on 13 Jan 2009, soccer_sulk wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 250. At 4:48pm on 13 Jan 2009, Sevenseaman wrote:

    Liverpool has everything needed to take the title 'cept the mental strength. The way Benitez has decided to go about fighting the obvious clout Fergie weilds among the FA and the referees pool is not going to change overnight. Mourinho had the same complaint and nothing ever changed. The loyalties are ingrained and there are so many subtle ways they work in one particular direction that Rafa will never have any tangible weapons to redress their effect, much less stop their occurrence. The only way for his team to go ahead is to develop the the mental strength to live with the subtleties and hope it is spared the gross ones.
    You cannot picket a lion in its den.

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  • 251. At 7:50pm on 13 Jan 2009, greenthinker wrote:

    If Liverpool are good enough they will win the title. If the players step up and stick together as a team it is a possibility. It would be the stuff dreams are made of, for a liverpool fan and anyone else who wants to someone other than manchester united to win.

    United and Chelsea were favourites for one very good reason..they've had the cash over an extended period and have spent it. United spent it better and now they are outright favourites. Plus they are the natural winners of the league, having had more money than anyone else since they first listed on the stock exchange.

    and recently, I mean please, 30 million+ each for ferdinand, rooney and berbatov, 30 million for nani and anderson together was it?, 18 million for carrick and 17 million for hargreaves ... compare that to liverpool's recent buys, one at 24mill one at 20 mill, next on the list, babel and riera for 8 mill a pop. and for years before that, nada.

    it speaks for itself. it is not a level playing field, even at the top. which would make it all that much sweeter....

    do whatever you can rafa, including taunting mr ferguson, if you think it will bring out that killer instinct in the players

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  • 252. At 8:20pm on 13 Jan 2009, bbppcy wrote:

    “…if Sir Alex Ferguson had mapped out his weekend on a sheet of A4 paper - in vogue after Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez used one as a prop to aid an attack on his Manchester United counterpart - it would have turned out exactly as his script decreed…”

    I'm sorry for being so open like this, it is just that I read this article yesterday, and it is one of the few articles that frustrate me, so here I am the day after finding myself registering an account.
    If you read the above quote, yes, Ferguson wanted Liverpool to lose and united to win, what else could he possibly want? And what do you mean round one to ferguson? The first 20 matches counted for nothing? How about round 20 to Ferguson, if you believe he is winning the ‘fight’ between him and Rara, fair enough, please keep it in context.

    Some good comments are posted though, alot better thought out than this article, in my opinion. I would like to highlight one comment saying that Benitez made these so called "Attacks" to keeps Ferguson's original comments about the Liverpool players on a low key. As Rafa's highlighted intention was to "not play mind games" and he does not seem like a sneaky man, he is a man of his word, as could be induced from previous years of good services for us.
    Yes, I'm a liverpool fan, and in terms of football and I’m happy with the situation. As Wenger said, these talks will not play much roll in the race. I believe such things bring a negative aspect to the game. However, suppose United had already played those two games at hand, and won. I would still have faith in my team to pull through.

    There is an amazingly high level of quality in this years Premiership.

    Thank you.

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