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Benitez must blank out Ferguson

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Phil McNulty | 11:40 UK time, Monday, 18 May 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson - on the rare occasions when Manchester United have been denied the Premier League title - has traditionally written a letter of congratulation to the victorious manager.

And when Rafael Benitez led Liverpool to Champions League success against AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005, Ferguson was again prepared to put pen to paper.

It is hardly a major feat of deduction to guess that Benitez will not be moved to prose in praise of Ferguson after United equalled Liverpool's tally of 18 titles.

If he could not bring himself to utter verbal congratulations to Ferguson when pressed at The Hawthorns on Sunday, Benitez is unlikely to put it down in writing.

He was prepared to salute Manchester United but made a point of not congratulating Ferguson - putting the latest coating of acrimony on a soured relationship between the pair.

The problem Benitez has here is two-fold. Firstly, even though Ferguson will be supremely indifferent as to whether he receives bouquets from Liverpool's manager or not, it makes his Anfield counterpart look petty and a bitterly sore loser.

It also came hard on the heels of Benitez's questionable claim that United may not actually be the best team in the Premier League - they simply won more points than anyone else.

Secondly, and more importantly, the man who holds the trophies wins the arguments and Ferguson has beaten Benitez hands down by securing a third successive title.

Benitez's lack of affection for Ferguson is painfully obvious and placed in certain contexts understandable.

There must be a measure of sympathy after what had every appearance of collusion between Manchester United's manager and Sam Allardyce in the recent "gesturegate" row that farcically suggested Benitez had shown Blackburn Rovers a lack of respect at Anfield.

And he certainly should not be expected to be subservient towards Ferguson. Liverpool's manager rightly feels it is more important to fight Anfield's corner than cosy up to Old Trafford's overlord.

But Benitez started a dangerous game when he delivered his carefully considered - definitely not a rant - attack against Ferguson's conduct towards referees, the FA's Respect campaign and fixture lists.

I spoke to Benitez at Stoke 24 hours after that outspoken attack on Ferguson, and to say he was spectacularly unrepentant is a masterpiece of understatement.

He was even moved to suggest, with an air of real belief in his words, that Ferguson was "a little bit scared" that Liverpool were table-toppers at that time. Brave - but ill-advised.

Sadly for Benitez, it also came after the sort of lifeless goalless draw that was to eventually become a significant factor in Benitez losing a title he simply had to win once he decided to throw down the gauntlet to Ferguson.

It was also provoked by what was, by Ferguson's standards, a fairly routine jab about the possibility of Liverpool getting nervous in the closing stages of the title race.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafa Benitez in happier times

Benitez would not have enjoyed congratulating Ferguson. He would have hated it, but he should have swallowed hard and done it. It would have been the gracious thing to do and would have avoided the headlines that greeted him on Monday.

The latest outbreak of rancour also removed some focus from Liverpool's own outstanding development in the last three months, which can rightly bring huge satisfaction for Benitez and be the source of genuine optimism for next season.

Benitez is famously single-minded tactically and applies tunnel vision to his pursuit of success - he must now apply those same qualities to his relationship with Ferguson.

He must put an end to what is in danger of becoming an unhealthy sideshow, a sideshow that is currently benefiting only one man. And that man is not Benitez.

Benitez must blank everything Ferguson says and does from his mind and concentrate every fibre solely on Liverpool. He must somehow ensure that Manchester United become almost meaningless to him rather than developing an obsession with Old Trafford.

Easier said than done, but there is no mileage in taking on the master at his own game.

Ferguson is football's streetfighter, preying on any sign of vulnerablity and Benitez's original verbal jousting appeared to concentrate the minds of all at Manchester United at a crucial point in the season.

Benitez has assembled a team, if not quite a squad, that is capable of building on their progression this season and making a serious attempt to win the Premier League next season.

Liverpool can have no guarantees because Ferguson will have carefully noted their development, but if they maintain the positive attacking approach sparked by the 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid in the Champions League and keep Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres fit, they will be even more dangerous opponents for United next season.

This is the best way for Benitez to fight Ferguson - and the only way in which he can win his arguments with the all-conquering Scot.

Comments

Page 1 of 9

  • Comment number 1.

    He should've swallowed his pride and congratulated him, just like during a football match players won't get along, there'll be some rough tackles, some bad words said but when the final whistle blows, all players shake hands and some swap shirts. The season is over, Guus has been a true gentleman at his time here, made many friends, Arsene was humble and gracious in defeat and said United were worthy winners, but Benitez and not for the first time, just could compliment his rival. Arsene had kind words for Mourinho who labeled him a voyeur, Ferguson did too despite both competing for the top spot, Benitez, again showed lack of class and it's doing nothing for him. He needs to grow up.

  • Comment number 2.

    A blog I can agree with! I do not find SAF an endearing character and I think his attack on Rafa over "gesturegate" was pathetic and I was surprised that big Sam either colluded or was taken in. However you have to admire the guy for the results he has achieved. For Benitez not to offer a simple 'congratulations' makes Rafa look like the huffy child.

  • Comment number 3.

    good blog phil - i like the points made.

    i think that this is another example where the "class" of Benitez is out of sync with thatof liverpool as a club and particularly their fans...

    Since United won the title i have seen numerous postings from liverpool fans saying well done, etc... it is that "class" that makes liverpool sucha warmly loved and respected club... they have a huge history of class...

    sadly rafa hasn't congratulated fergie and man u - and that is really sad - as one of the best bits of sport is being able to shake hands say well done and then look forward to the next battle...

    i think this is rafas weakness - fergie plays mind games and see's it as nothing personal just part of the fun - you get the impression he is smiling on the inside whilst doing it ... and above all he would always congratulate the opposition...ALWAYS... Rafa seems to take it persoanlly and because of that he can't smile and rise above it... and ultimately he looks very silly... i think

    as i said - lots of class shown by liverpool fans - who are as good as it gets...

  • Comment number 4.

    Benitez' response to Utd's win is unbelievably immature for a so-called 'professional'. Not only is it pathetically unsporting, it also provides a terrible role model. If Rafa wanted a jibe at Fergie, he'd have been far better to say something like, "Congratulations to Sir Alex on a magnificent achievement - it had to take something special to beat us, this season. A month ago, I was unfairly accused by Sir Alex of showing contempt. Now, I'm pleased to be the bigger man and respond with a heart-felt 'well done'".

  • Comment number 5.

    Benitez should be given a red card for life for the most unsportsman behaviour.
    Next season, don't start playing mind-games as you know the outcome now - season without a single trophy for the supposedly biggest team.

    Rant Rant Rant Rafa!!!

    You are the best after all; we love you for this. Not even the special one dared to do this.

  • Comment number 6.

    Best team in England ended the sesaon trophyless. what do you think of this Rafa?
    I preety sure he will have the worst holidays and hoping the next season comes sooner.

    Rant Rant Rant Rafa!!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Benitez needs to manage how he best sees fit. Alex Ferguson is irrelevant in terms of his project at Anfield. Whether he congratulates him or not is frankly unimportant. A cynic would say Ferguson's "generosity" is simply a way of reinforcing his status at the top of the managerial pyramid.

    If Benitez feels that he needs to question AF's king-like status in the league to ensure that Liverpool and - more importantly - Man U's opponents get a fair rub of the green from refs, then that is his prerogative.

    The moment Benitez starts heeding advice from any part of the British media and starts to profusely lavish praise on his nemesis is the moment he starts being happy to finish runner-up like so many other British managers.

    At times I wonder why "football writers" bother themselves with such mundane topics.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    For far too many years we've had managers that were all too happy to go out wax lyrical about the opposition and that has been a weakness, accepting that Liverpool were not as good as their opponents. Finally a man who stands at the helm of this great club and refuses to accept second best. He cares only for Liverpool and that is what is needed.

    I would never openly compare them as there is no comparison, at least not yet but there was a man before with Benitez's stance and stubborn belief . . . and although Shankly would not be happy with the 2nd place Benitez has achieved this year he would certainly see similarities in personality.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    I thought at the time that Rafas famous rant was an attempt to divert attention away from Steven Gerrards assault charge, but he still comes over as a man with a huge chip on his shoulder. He started the nonsense and now has ended up looking like a chump...a bitter one at that.

  • Comment number 13.

    All this does is highlight the fact Rafa is a bitter man, and he isn't congratulating SAF because of any war-of-words... Arsene, Jose even Keegan have all had these with SAF, but come end of the season... A glass has been raised and praise has rightly (though begrudgingly) been given. Rafa hasn't as he knows HE blew it... This WAS the season, and despite a few "entertaining" matches Liverpool have been LUCKY... Next year they will not have the same run of luck... And look at the opposition, Chelsea in complete disarray till February (if Guus was their all season, Liverpool would not be mentioned right now)and Arsenal... wow... their dressing room resembled the opening scenes of saving private Ryan for the majority of the season....

    I am sorry to say to 'pool fans, who have been for the best part humble in the face of 2nd place (also, most have been unwisely loyal to their leader) that this was your best chance, it wont happen like this again, this was your year for the prem... And Rafa blew it.

    That is why he wont congratulate, and it shows his character in a very real light... That club deserves better!

  • Comment number 14.

    The only comment Benitez made last year that had validity was when he suggested teams should attack Utd more because the defence is only so good because they are never put under pressure.

    We have seen this season that teams prepared to take Utd on have a chance. Liverpool and Porto are 2 examples where UTD were frankly made to look very dodgy but not enough of the others are prepared to do the same.

    The only comment Benitez should make before the start of the new season is to remind everyone that Utd are vulnerable but you have to be prepared to lose by 2 or 3, particularly at OT which is where the title has been won. You have to knock down the image of invincibility at OT, remember Anfield used to be a fortress, Chelsea was a fortress.

    For the good of the game, the other 19 teams in the league have to stop going for damage limitation at OT. Ok, if you lose, so what, you are going with that expectation, change your thinking, it aint the greatest Utd side even if they win the CL as well, 99 was far superior.

  • Comment number 15.

    He congratulated Manchester United, that's enough.

    After the stunt Fergie and Big Sam tried to pull regarding the "gesture" he doesn't deserve personal acknowledgement from Rafa.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Ferguson is hardly the most gracious of individuals himself. After being hammered 1-4 at home to Liverpool, Ferguson had the nerve to say the best team lost! Ferguson has been an obnoxious bully for decades and Rafa is right to stand up to him.

  • Comment number 18.

    In 2006, when Chelsea won the title, Sir Alex said, "Chelsea deserve all the plaudits they will get and, especially on their home form, they are worthy champions." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/4933716.stm)

    In 2007, when Manchester United won the title, José "Special One" Mourinho said, "I have to congratulate the champions, the players, the manager, the fans, the board; all the people that helped them to be champions." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/chelsea/6630789.stm)

    In 2008, when Manchester United won the title, Avram Grant also congratulated Ferguson: "United had a great season, played very well and are champions," said Grant. "I especially want to congratulate Sir Alex Ferguson. He is a great manager and a great person." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/7395137.stm) Wenger too was congratulatory: "My message to United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is congratulations for the achievement - and get ready for the fight next year." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/7381801.stm) Although that title challenge never really got started from Wenger.

    In 2006, Ferguson was gracious even though Mourinho's side bullied their way to the title, including thrashing us 3-0 (sadly). In 2007, this was when Mourinho's relationship with Abramovich became strained and Mourinho became increasingly irritated - but still managed to give thanks. In 2008, Grant, for all his boring persona, managed to crack a smile and congratulate United, while Wenger, who is not known for being very gracious himself, paid tribute (and jinxed his next season in doing so).

    However, in 2009, despite doing the "double" over United including a 1-4 win at Old Trafford, Rafa sits at home and starts sobbing over "ifs", before deciding to come out to the press and be a sore loser.

    And that is a fahct.

    Credit: http://www.redcafe.net/f6/congratulate-bitter-249590/

  • Comment number 19.

    i am a man utd fan and therefore obviously want us to beat liverpool. but when they beat us it hurt but you have to say congrstluaions to them. the same as i would have had liverpool beat us to the title. benitez's behaviour is also an example to his players and it will be intersting to see if any of them show better sportsmanship and manners.

  • Comment number 20.

    It didn't surprise me to see Benitez not congratulate Ferguson. He has the air of a man who doesn't want to admit he is inferior to Ferguson, and instead goes on the offensive with petty and ludicrous comments about Ferguson and United, nearly all of which are untrue (eg his now infamous Ferguson-referee comments; United spending more on transfers than Liverpool; best team doesn't necessarily have most points etc etc).

    Benitez has to realise that it was not Liverpool that lost the title, but himself. If was his ridiculous rant that changed the face of the season and started his run of petty comments designed to de-rail United... but ultimately failing miserably. I don't like to dislike people, but I have found myself resenting the small, insignificant man that is Benitez. In person, perhaps he is a stand-up guy, but how can I have even the smallest morsel of respect for a man who slanders a fellow manager; makes up ludicrous lies about him and his team; and won't even have the decency to congratulate the winning manager at the end of the season? To me, all these things are the signs of the most despicable people around, and i hoestly think Liverpool would do best to fire him and find a replacement.

    Sure, Benitez has done good things at Liverpool recently, but I cannot stand his character and I think people like this bring a bad name to football. I do of course realise that Fergie is hardly an angel, but he actually considers what he says and therefore speaks truthfully. And as Phil mentions, he is gracious in defeat. It is managers like Benitez who bring out the not-so-pretty side of Ferguson, and so I really do wish Benitez would leave English football.

    Sorry, but this is a sour point for me - I cannot stand the man, and it is his own actions that have made me feel this way!

  • Comment number 21.

    Good blog Phil

    Rafa should have said well done and moved on. I have had to face the many mancs I work with as well as my brother and say fair do's - but we gave you a really good race. If Wigan had held on to the draw last Wednesday Utd would have gone to Hull needing to win or else risk losing the title on goal difference, it was that close. Rafa should take it on the chin and say well done but we will be at you again come August. This petty approach does not do him any favours.

  • Comment number 22.

    You have to ask the question
    "why do football managers speak about other teams?"

    simple, because the frenzy of football journalists in the media at the seemingly endless press conferences ask these managers loaded questions so that they can manipulate the managers comments into something 'sensationalised'

  • Comment number 23.

    Benitez is a clown. Get rid of him.

  • Comment number 24.

    I must admit this does seem a bit petty, even Sir Alex congratulates his opponents if he has been defeated no matter how much rancour is between whoever it is (maybe with the exception of Real Madrid!!!!)

    If I remember correctly Sir Alex used a press conference to defend Rafa last season when his job was under threat from the owners talking to Klinsmann, I thought there was always a healthy amount of respect between these two, well until this season at least!

    Whether Rafa meant what he said on that piece of paper (as most of it was untrue) or not he seems to of kept signing from that hymm sheet to not appear like he was back tracking on what he said.

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm sorry, how old is Benitez? Five? He certainly sounds like a five year old! Some people have never learnt how to be a gracious loser, Benitez is one of them.

    I think Manchester United deserved to win the premiership title. They simply played better than other teams.

  • Comment number 26.

    Rafa has to get over himself. Liverpool have done really well this year, recording their most ever points in the premierleague. yet again Rafa is hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons (i.e. his rant) when the attention should really be on the great work he's done at liverpool and the great title race that has ensued this season.

    With a couple quality signings this summer, and i mean quality, none of this dossena, babel, riera mularkey. I'm talking benzema, barry, and another wing back. Then united and more specifically Ferguson might actually be worried.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    heres the link to the story i put in my comment....

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/7206276.stm

  • Comment number 29.

    Phil, its no use trying to get Rafa to change, he's an arrogent fool with no class, he always was and he always will be - if he hadn't put himself before his club, he would have played Keane more often and as a striker and he probably would have won the Premiership, instead he used Keane as a pawn for getting rid of Parry.

    Rafa - no class, no dignity...

  • Comment number 30.

    What. Utter. Rubbish.

    I'm not yet aware that Benitez has said he will not write to congratulate Ferguson? Has he? He may well do that in his own time... and privately. His reaction was perfectly justified and understandable. Ferguson has been ripping into him throughout this season (much to the pleasure of [bias] journalists everywhere) and despite all the unsporting behaviour of Ferguson and his team, it is always Benitez who everyone expects to bow down and worship at the feet of Utd. Had Liverpool won, and Ferguson congratulated him in front of the camera, it would have been through the most blatantly obvious sarcastic and unmeaningful praise. Therefore, pointless. This, after Ferguson called Benitez utterly arrogant, and "beyond the pale" - which was totally absurd, given the circumstances of the insult.

    Man U have won the title, so be it. This is just the beginning. We'll see what happens when the new season begins.

    Benitez was very correct when he implied that Man U were not the best team, despite winning the title. In football, as everyone knows, it's not always the best team that wins. How many points have United been 'given' by referrees this season??? How many freekicks (providing the goal) were won by Ronaldo's dive-followed-by-tears? Penalties given in their favour... yellow cards avoided. It's been appalling really - but understandable given that it is Man United after all! Just as SAF gets favourable treatment by the media, so to does the team get away with blue murder - through the referrees.

    The best team has not won the title this season.

    Liverpool 2 Man U 1
    Man U 1 Liverpool 4

    Can anyone really dispute which is the better team????

  • Comment number 31.

    Rafa Benitez maintains that United only won the league because of spending more money than any other team.Since 2004 Manchester United have spent an average of almost three and a half million pounds per season less than Liverpool on players.United are actually fifth in the spending league to Liverpools third place for this period.
    For all the details just Google-transferleague.co.uk

  • Comment number 32.

    For me this is a non-story. Should Benitez have congratulated United, probably yes. Can understand the reason why he didn't. As a United fan, i find it irrelevant that any Liverpool manager would congratulate us, it's obvious no Liverpool manager would really mean it. Benitez has made his point and maybe he meant for this non-story to escalate, But seriously, who cares???

  • Comment number 33.

    I think Man Utd are blinded by the success, mainly achieved by the huge resources available to them. I understand Rafa's mentality and how frustrating it can be to compete with the likes of Chelsea and Man Utd and still losing the league title by a narrow margin, due to some good or bad fortune in a handful of games.

    Unless there is a cap on players' wages and the amount spent on players, Man Utd will win >80% of the titles for the foreseable future, with or without Sir Alex.

  • Comment number 34.

    Fair play to Rafa on this one. I watched the pre-match interview and couldn't help but smile when he was asked the question. He was asked a simple question, his response was simple, they had more points. In his eyes and perhaps many others this was the right answer, problem is, not many other managers have the balls to go up against Fergie and say it how they see it. Nice one Rafa.

  • Comment number 35.

    Bentiez doesn't come across with any credit does he? It just gets' worse - for me liverpool lost the league the day he thought he could bang on and on about Fergie - well that's what the facts say his team couldn't handle the pressure and that's where they dropped points... dare I say livepool lost the league because of rafs rant - it's very possibly true.

    For all his posturing about next year, United have won this in second gear, they'll be better next year, I have a feeling some arrangement between abrahmovic and the russian fa (for whom the mangers wages come out of agrahmovics pockert) will be made for the russian manager, arsenal can't possibly be any worse domestically and will finally shell out for a couple of experienced players, villa, spurs and everton will be better. Looking at history rafa will comletely change his players (again!) sell a promising player like babel and buy six average players so liverpool are up for a fight if they think they can finish second next year.

  • Comment number 36.


    I think Bill Shankly & Bob Paisley would turn in their graves at this pettiness that is being shown at the moment.

    Regardless of the rights & wrongs of "gestures" & "rants" and "counter-rants" the Premier League title was won on the football field not the Press Room. Benitez should just have the guts to say "Fair Play - well done" Ferguson sent him a message of goodwill after Istanbul in '05.

    On the flip side Rafa has said well done Manchester United but stopped short of singling out Alex Ferguson as their relationship obviously has deteriorated since Rafa's early days in England

    Ferguson called Rafa "disturbed" earlier in the year & colluded with his pal Sam Allardyce to get a reaction over this ridiculous gesture allegation. Maybe Benitez simply doesn't like him, in which case his "well done" statement should be enough.

    I do agree with an earlier poster through that said reporters should have more guts at Press Conferences & challenge Alex Ferguson more without bowing down & making him the master of the mind game.

  • Comment number 37.

    it beyond the pale this, outrageous, its all cracking up.

    Not Rafa, not even him down the East lancs, I'm talking about the hypersensitivety of the press that Rafa hasn't gone round to Mr Fergusons house and offered up his first born because he dared stand up to him.

    Its fair to say, Rafa is treating Mr Ferguson in the same way Mr Ferguson treats the BBC - with contempt.

    And all you Man U fans, why don't you read up on what Rafa said yesterday? He congratulated your club on your achievement.

    It really is beyond the pale.

  • Comment number 38.

    all those who are spouting rubbish about Rafa and sour grapes need to ask themselves if that really is the case or whether Rafa is a man of principals, who is not afraid to say what needs to be said and avoids being grouped with the typical bottom licking hypocrites like the other main-streamers in the Premiership!

    Benítez has congratulated man u for winning the title, saying they are a great side & a great club which is fair enough but why should he have to say congratulate a man who has done nothing but try and belittle Rafa and LFC every single season, congratulate a man for his constant gibes and mind games? Why?

    and don't give me "it's the sporting thing to do" because Ferguson has not a sportsmanship's bone in his body!!! Gamesmanship yes but not sportmanship!!!

    I say congratulations to utd also for winning the title but I have no time for their manager either. Well done Rafa!

  • Comment number 39.

    What absolute tosh. Ferguson writes to people as though he some kind of feudal lord. He wrote to Benitez in 2005 to 'explain' to Benitez how Benitez won! This season Ferguson has insulted Benitez time after time, culminating with his absurd rant about the Allardyce non-incident. And how did Ferguson 'congratualte' Liverpool after he won the league on Saturday? By whining about the 'travesty' of being beaten 4-1 at home to 'four long balls'! Yes, very gracious, that. By the way, how's the BBC faring overturning this gracious man's absurd ban against it? Any luck yet? Oh yes - he's waiting for an 'apology' from the Director-General. So I take it you are all for such an action, Phil? Do tell the DG.

  • Comment number 40.

    what is with the BBC and one sentence per paragraph? Is there a reason behind it because it not only makes the article dreadfully hard to read as there is no flow, but also is terrible English

  • Comment number 41.

    Why did you journos feel the need to press Rafa into congratulating Fergie after the WBA match?
    He congratulated Man U FC,why should he go further.
    Just trying to make a story out of nothing.Why dont you ask Fergies opinion on the matter in one of his BBC post match interviews - oh wait - you cant can you,he wont do them.Mr magnaminous still hasnt gotten over some petty little spat with the Beeb many many years ago.

  • Comment number 42.

    Benitez was right not to personally congratulate Ferguson, because during this season he has famously only used facts to criticise Man Utdd, whereas Ferguson took the low road and resorted to personal attacks on Benitez during "gesturegate", calling him arrogant. Nobody should think that Ferguson deserves to be singled out for any special praise from Benitez after this, just as none of his players were. The club as a whole praised, and thats enough.
    As far as the who is the side question is concerned, he was asked if they were the better team, which in my eyes means first 11, and United were nowhere near liverpool in either of the games they played against each other, so Benitez has a right to believe his first 11 is stronger, but if the question had been better squad, then he would have had to acknowledge Utd's superior strength in depth

  • Comment number 43.

    "Benitez must put an end to what is in danger of becoming an unhealthy sideshow"

    I don't think he should. Nobody can tell him what to do. I'm not saying what he's doing is right, but who cares? He can behave however he wants, not how everybody else wants him to. Plus, Ferguson is hardly a complete role model himself - he turns it on and off whenever he chooses. I say, Benitez, do what you want, and don't give worry what the others say. Be yourself.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hi Phil et al, the thing is that Benitez is acting a little childish to the detriment of people who like but don't suport the 'Pool. Ferguson has never come across as nice but winners in any sport never do. Just look at Schumacher and Armstrong: we admire them, they are not 'orrible but will never be considered nice. The thing is that they are never unprofessional and had out praise where needed. Benitez has, in my eyes, let the 'Pool down because next season, people are not going to be wishing him as well as they might have last season and the beginning of this one! Anything he will say from now on will have a negative conotation and effect on him and his squad. (In the same way hanson keeps predicting the return of liverpool but ends up loosing credit each and every season...so please shut up!)

  • Comment number 45.

    How disgraceful for a big club like Liverpool to have a manager so unsportman like to congratulate a fellow collegue on his achievement.
    What goes around, comes around.

  • Comment number 46.

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  • Comment number 47.

    As a Liverpool fan, I would say ok congratulate him but I'm not exactly losing sleep over it.

    All this stuff gets way overblown.

    Ever since Keegan's outburst which supposedly blew Newcastle's 12 point lead when in fact they were already well on their way to blowing it anyway due to a leaky defence.

    Saying Rafa just had to win the title after the outburst suggests that this is somehow an important factor compared to the fans, players and the club.

    And I seriously doubt the focus on Liverpool's results over the past 3 months has been reduced.

    Leave all this to the tabloids!

  • Comment number 48.

    Has anyone actually read or heard Benitez interview???? or are everyone going on what they read on the back of a tabloid newspaper or a bit of gossip from their morning fag break???

    Benitez actually congratulated Manchester United. He did say that the best team did not win the premiership but do you not remeber when the special one o' jose used to say that about not winning a football game, no such attacks were made against him so why rafa? is it that for so long the media and pub;ic have critised his team and tactics but now that he has answered those critics with some beautiful displays of football you are all having a bash at something else he has said or done???

    on another note, this may prove the most interesting read of the day.... this is the tittle pattern for last 100 years or so 1900/01 Liverpool
    1905/06 Liverpool (2 titles)

    1907/08 United
    1910/11 United (2 titles)

    1921/22 Liverpool
    1922/23 Liverpool
    1946/47 Liverpool (3 titles)

    1951/52 United
    1955/56 United
    1956/57 United (3 titles)

    1963/64 Liverpool (1 title)

    1964/65 United (1 title)

    1965/66 Liverpool (1 title)

    1966/67 United (1 title)

    1972/73 Liverpool
    1975/76 Liverpool
    1976/77 Liverpool
    1978/79 Liverpool
    1979/80 Liverpool
    1981/82 Liverpool
    1982/83 Liverpool
    1983/84 Liverpool
    1985/86 Liverpool
    1987/88 Liverpool
    1989/90 Liverpool (11 titles)

    1992/93 United
    1993/94 United
    1995/96 United
    1996/97 United
    1998/99 United
    1999/00 United
    2000/01 United
    2002/03 United
    2006/07 United
    2007/08 United
    2008/09 United (11 titles)

    Liverpool to win next year, Thats a FACT!!!!!

  • Comment number 49.

    ScottishScouser - obviously as a Liverpool fan I wouldn't expect you to like what Fergie says, nor would I expect Benitez to take it lying down. Mourinho didn't, Wenger didn't, Dalglish before that didn't. But they stood up to Fergie with dignity, and you'll notice one crucial difference between the managers I just mentioned and Rafa Benitez - they all beat Fergie in a title race at some point. Using money as an excuse for his own failings is pathetic - as Phil McNulty said, the spending has been pretty similar between these two clubs in recent years but Fergie has bought wisely (since learning a lesson with Veron and Kleberson et al). Benitez - still - has not learned his lesson, despite the failed signings of players like Bellamy in the past. But that's besides the point, Benitez will get that right sooner rather than later and I believe he'll do so this summer. But will his behaviour improve? The man is not new to petulence, if you remember he would refuse to shake Mourinho's hand after Liverpool-Chelsea games. Now he won't congratulate Sir Alex Ferguson, a man who - like it or not - deserves at the very least a grudging respect from his peers. I understand (but do not agree) with Benitez saying Liverpool are the best team in the league: that's the mentality of a man who believes in his team, has confidence in his project but who recognises that, yet again, he didn't quite live up to the potential until it was too late. He needs to understand that whatever is said between managers and clubs during the high pressure, competitive environment that is the Premier League, he has to congratulate another man for a deserved victory. That is the LEAST we expect in England, and it is to his own shame that he refuses to pay respect to the most formidable adversary he will ever face.

  • Comment number 50.

    Shame on Liverpool for letting this spoilt childlike behaviour dent the reputation of their lengandary club.Sir Alex's records factually tells it all,someone shut him up!

  • Comment number 51.

    Benitez doesn't like him, so what? we don't all have to turn into sheep. Ferguson has lots of support around the country from influential sections of the media and a number of ex-players/mates in managerial positions in the Premiership, all making his job that little bit easier. Also, there is no doubt that the momentum Man Utd build up each season is helped by the media hyping them up whilst creating negativity around their rivals. I'm not saying that there's a conspiracy or anything, just too many journos acting as cheerleaders in their effort to bask in Man Utd's glory. Well done to Benitez for sticking up for himslef.

  • Comment number 52.

    Sore loser. No class.

  • Comment number 53.

    Fergie crossed the line or went 'beyond the pale' with his character assassination of Benitez. I am certain that Benitez would be congratulating Ferguson right now if it were not for those remarks he made about Rafa being arrogant and showing contempt. I'm sure that is the biggest single factor. It is one thing to criticize an action but Fergie went further in suggesting it was a part of Rafa's nature with his, it shows the arrogance of the man' remark.

    I doubt there will be anything even cordial until Ferguson retracts his remarks, and i'm not holding my breath

  • Comment number 54.

    Benitez's bizarre press conference didn't concentrate United minds, it gave them some light relief - it was pure comedy gold after all, what an absolute spanner

    By the looks of Evra's celebration at Wigan the other night United have been taking the wet out of Benitez ever since :-)

  • Comment number 55.

    Ferguson loves this kind of thing. Benitez is playing wright into his Fergies hands. Benitez now has to start the battle to win something afresh and that is a difficult thing, as a few bad results can make the wheels come of very, very quickly. Talk means nothing. Fergie has the trophies in the bag and that's what the 'pool fans want. Benitez should pick his battles wisely This kind of stuff is grist to the mill for ferguson

  • Comment number 56.

    Phil... only your blog has these moderation problems... Put Robbo in charge would you, never a problem posting or reading there... VERY FRUSTRATING!

  • Comment number 57.

    Rafa FACT it up.

  • Comment number 58.

    Benitez is perfectly suited to the club he manages - no style and bad losers. What really grates with both manager and supporters is United equalling their record of Championship wins, with no real prospect of stopping them overtaking Liverpool next season. The most interesting statistic in all of this is that United have now won the league ELEVEN times since Liverpool last won it.

  • Comment number 59.

    Regarding rafa I think he has every right not to congratulate fergie after the old trafford mauling four to one back in march did fergie say anything no because he sent out his helper to say that they were the better team on the day hmm strange that the media did not pick up on this really at the end of the day the country is biased towards to utd for some unknown reason so just because rafa dares to not stand with this communual love in then so be it! every cycle comes to an end it took utd long enough to catch up so will not last forever so just enjoy whilst it last as fergie 20 plus years older than rafa!!!

  • Comment number 60.



    I applaud Rafa Benitez's measured response to an offer to congratulate Ferguson on United's Premier League title. What sort of man would be so hypocritical as to applaud someone for whom he has absolutely no respect whatsoever? Why would he wish to congratulate a boorish and insulting individual who has spent the past five months attempting to undermine the advances that Liverpool have made this season? Benitez, quite rightly, has questioned the power that Ferguson wields within FA circles: how he is above the laws of the game and openly contravenes them without reprimand or punishment. Ferguson, along with his lapdogs in the media and abysmal figures such as Fat Sam, has attacked Benitez at every opportunity in an attempt to unsettle the Liverpool manager. At all times Benitez has dealt only with the truth while Ferguson, true only to his character, has peddled lies.

    Ferguson is without class and dignity. He is an individual without manners and without style. Benitez cannot be criticised for refusing to offer any congratulation to such an individual. Those who support Ferguson should also be held in contempt for revering such an abysmal example of British boorishness.

    Well done, Senor Benitez!

  • Comment number 61.

    Senor Benitez,


    Be the bigger man.




    Regards,



    Cisseation.

  • Comment number 62.

    Oh dear, I dared to suggest that SAF should be picked up by Journos on his comments rather than every other manager having to ignore him and it's been moderated.

    #18, whydoi,

    Were any of them managers accused of being beneath contempt? Maybe if SAF, Wenger or Mariniho had been accused of going beyond the pale by a fellow pro after being 'ganged' up on, they may have thought twice.

  • Comment number 63.

    When Chelsea won the league, Sir Alex had his players form a guard of honour for the Champions. Really smart move. It showed respect for his opponent and spured on his entire team to get that trophy back. Rafa has acted like a child and taken the glow away from his much improved team and made United the victims of a selfish and pointless guesture.

    Benitez needs to wise up, he has made a clown of himself, opened a fued he can not win and played right into Sir Alex's hands. He loves nothing more than being seen as a victim of a wrong doing and Rafa has certainly done a wrong 'un here

  • Comment number 64.

    Since United won the title i have seen numerous postings from liverpool fans saying well done, etc... it is that "class" that makes liverpool sucha warmly loved and respected club... they have a huge history of class...

    I've also seen numerous bitter posts.Rafa is no different than most of the LFC fan,bitter,deluded and arrogant.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think Rafa has shown what a small man he really is.

    He played the master at his own game and lost big time.

    All he has done now is left himself permanently on the Fergie radar and he will time his subtle verbal attacks for maximum effect right from the start of next season.

    It obviously gets to Rafa so much it destracts him from his job of running Liverpool which is good news for Fergie and will leave only one winner again next season.

  • Comment number 66.

    Rafa has congratulated man utd the club and team and that should be enough. Everybody knows rafa and ferguson do not get on so why does he have to personally congratulate him, is ferguson not part of man utd? Rafa is true when he says if you are not challenging utd then ferguson has a good relationship with that manager but as soon as your team is seen as a threat then ferguson doesn't want to know. Why is it in the past that fergie had spats with mourinho and wenger, it's because their teams were fighting for the title. All the man utd fans who think their manager is a saint are blinkered to say the least. After winning the title on saturday in the post match tv interview why did ferguson start going on about the 4-1 scoreline at old trafford and saying that it was a travesty of a result and that man utd were the better team that day ? If he was so gracious he could have said yes we lost to the better team on the day but we won the title in the long run, thats what counts. As a liverpool fan i know benitez should sometimes just keep his mouth shut as well and let his team do the talking on the football pitch. We ran utd really close this season and will have the taste for an ever better title battle next year. I think now that liverpool know what a title challenge involves will stand them in good stead for next season. I for hope benitez and ferguson carry on with their feuds because from a liverpool perspective i believe this will drive our manager on to ensure his team carries on from where we leave off this season in title winning form and simply out scoring and breezing past teams.

  • Comment number 67.

    Phil and others, let's not be silly here. Do you really think Benitez's comments, or lack of, were down to 'pettiness' or being a 'sore loser'. You would have to be especially naive as a sports writer to think this. For years and years and years Liverpool have felt that they are inferior to United, and not realistically able to compete with them for the Premiership crown, however, this year they fought with them all the way. All Benitez is trying to do is make sure his players carry on that fight from the start of next season and make them sincerely belive that they are not inferior to United, and that they have every right to feel that they can take the crown from them next season. After all confidence in this game plays a huge factor. It's obvious, at least to me, that he just wants his players especially but also everyone else to know that next season again they will be major contenders. By the way I am a gooner and have no agenda to stick up for the pool/benitez.

  • Comment number 68.

    My view is Rafael Benitez should have swallowed his pride, congratulated Sir Alex Ferguson and moved on - it is what you do when you have been beaten in a long race such as the Premier League.

    I suspect Ferguson took no pleasure from writing to congratulate the managers who beat him to the title but he did it.

    It would have avoided the "Bitter Benitez" headlines today, allowed him to draw a line under the unseemly public feuding we have seen this season and allowed people to focus on Liverpool's real improvement in the last few months.

    Instead, the ill-feeling will continue into next season now - and as I said in the blog, the man with the trophies wins every time in these arguments.

  • Comment number 69.

    I see absolutely no reason why Rafa Benitez should personally congratulate Mr Ferguson. He's congratulated Manchester Utd as a team and that should be enough.

    As you point out yourself, Mr Ferguson launched a personal attack on Benitez, ganging up with Allardyce like a pair of playground bullies - why should Benitez personally congratulate a man who has referred to him as 'arrogant, contemptuous an "beyond the pale"'..

    At the start of your article you seem to make out that Ferguson is gracious in defeat. Nothing could be further from the truth. He sends Phelan to face the Sky cameras on the occasions that Utd do lose - as he did when Liverpool won at Old Trafford this season - on that occasion also cancelling a press conference. Gracious he certainly is not. Let us not forget that he still churlishly refuses outright to talk to the BBC!!

    I see no issue here with what Benitez has done other than the one created by yourself and the rest of the media in order to fill a few column inches/ browser space.

    Really Phil, there's nothing to talk about here. Let it go.

  • Comment number 70.

    Benitez may not have congratulated SAF but frankly as many others have said, I don't understand how he deserves it. The whole charade of 'the best team lost' after his team were beaten 1-4 was the first point and the 2nd being the whole situation with Sam Allerdyce, it's pathetic. Benitez congratulated the team that won the title, they are who deserves the plaudits. SAF is arrogant at the best of times and at the worst doesn't deserve to be acknowledged at all. Good on Benitez is all I can say.

  • Comment number 71.

    He is a bit of a sore loser. At least Sir Alex gave praise when his team missed out.

  • Comment number 72.

    It's sour grapes. Simple as that. The rant earlier in the season was as though he had conceded defeat even back then. Things may have been different if he had just got on with his job and didn't worry about United.

  • Comment number 73.

    Bitter is hiding in the tiolets after you have been thumped 1-4 at home and then saying the best team lost.
    Rafa said congrats to utd, what more do you want.

  • Comment number 74.

    I just don't get it.

    Why, if Benitez refuses to congratulate Ferguson, is HE the "bitter man"?

    A bitter man is the kind that refuses to give post-match interviews when his team loses, and sends his Assistant out in his stead...

    a bitter man is the kind that comes up with spurious stories about his rivals "disrespecting the opposition" (and why Allardyce went along with that astounds me, it's not like he's in any danger of getting the Old Trafford job when Ferguson retires)...

    a bitter man is the kind that defends his players when they completely lose it and start verbally abusing and physically intimidating match officials...


    ... and who would want to corresspond with a character like that? Not me, for one, and obviously not Benitez either.

  • Comment number 75.

    It's not just a Ferguson thing, Benitez is a sore loser full stop. He showed this when he labeled Everton a 'small club' and criticised them of being defensive. And now the league is over he is churning out excuse after excuse. He's turning in to a bit of a comedy character truth-be-told.

  • Comment number 76.

    Rafa is his own man and he's a allowed to do whatever he pleases at the end of the day. If Liverpool FC would file a complaint against his behaviour, then fair enough, but they didnt. Call it what you will - stubborness, ignorance, naive, childishless or simply pride, Rafa did not congratulate Fergie but rather congratulated United as a team because thats what beat Liverpool and others to the PL this season, the United squad. No one can prove nor disapprove that Fergie was not a "little scared" of Liverpool. These are opinions and Fergie is full of them himself. At the end of the day, United played very well this season and grinded out hard thought 1-0 and 2-1 wins away, whilest Liverpool drew too many at home, but Liverpool have achieved a lot this season. Most points so far in PL, only lost twice, could equal clean sheets (Reina won it twice on the trot so far) etc.
    Both Fergie and Neville said that this is their best squad ever, so Liverpool have all to play for next season. At the end of the day, it is the players on the pitch for that 90+ minutes that does the talking. With a couple of class players, Liverpool will push United much harder next season, and United knows this. I dont think Rafa should stop this banter with Fergie, its part and parcel of the game.

  • Comment number 77.

    Phil,

    Really, have you ran out of material? What about an interesting blog on future transfer tagets or something.
    No one apart from the 'chat magazine readership' cares. Has anyone ever not liked someone? I'll give you a clue- the entire human race...
    I wouldn't laud 'this fella' in accounts, even if he did an amazing job, because i can't stand him!
    why is everone so shocked? It's simple they don't like each other,

    get over it...

  • Comment number 78.

    Rafa showed a complete lack of class and this fued will harm Liverpool's chances by heaping the pressure on his team.

    Liverpool blew it after doing the double over Utd and seeing them have a poor start to the season. His chance had gone now and next season it won't be so close.

    Not that I care - Champions

  • Comment number 79.

    Re 68: I'm glad this will continue into next year and probably the year after that too.

    It keeps you in a job doesn't it Phil.

    Not everybody is going to be Mr Fergusons lapdog, like the poor unfortunate Allerdyce.

    Keep it going Rafa.

  • Comment number 80.

    As a Spurs fan - and a neutral - I'd say two things.

    One - why should Benitez be a hypocrite and praise Ferguson, the biggest sixty-something baby in football. (Still not talking to the BBC....how mature.)

    Two - United had a very ordinary record against the other 'big four' clubs this season. They won the league because they had the strongest squad; assembled over years with tens of millions. Their B team could get past most teams. When the first elevens clashed,they got stuffed 4-1 at home by Liverpool. That's hardly an argument for 'best team.'

    (Not to mention an appalling refereeing decision to get past us.)

    Periods of domination in football happen. The fear is - with the changes in football finance with the Prem league and the super-sizing of the European Cup - the advantages given to Man U have become institutionalised and the whole game atrophied.

    Next year I hope Liverpool (or Tottenham) win the league and Aston Villa or Everton (or Tottenham) break this 'top four' nonsense. This will, of course, be difficult when players float on a crest of debt-fuelled cash to the 'big' clubs and 'my only chance to play Champions League.'

  • Comment number 81.

    Dour blog, every year the same and why because whether it be any of the big four that win the Premier league has no colour. Give Villa, Spurs, City & Newcastle the same quality and size of squads them watch them dominate.

    Why not blog on relegation fodder, mid table mediocrity or the fact that the Premiership is genuinely close to being a closed shop.

    Success for the big four and the one team to break the cartel BBlackburn has in the main been fuelled by money. I'm not referring to the mega buys but the mid range players who would be stars at the clubs above, playing week in week out but show either mind bursting arrogance or astonishing lack of desire moving to the big four to play a third of the season.....

    Ferguson and Benetiz are nothing but a side show for us all to laugh at, Punch and Judy football. I suspect no one word which passed either mans lips was gven a moments notice by each other.

    Success at this level for the last 10 years needs to be qualified, it has been achieved by annexing the competition, dominace in any shape or form is no good for any system and whilst no fan of Liverpool theye titles were at least achieved with a bet level of all round competition. I'm not saying they didnt buy the best players and have some financial advantage but at least they only bought a team of not a squad. Most players wouldn't have even dared contemplating a bit part role at one club.

    The spread of titles, cups etc is well spread across many teams in the decades before the Premiership and refelcted the overall eveness of the league, and once in a while a team would dominate but not forever at at the expense of all but three other clubs.

    I always say well done but each year the well done becomes more qualified....

  • Comment number 82.

    Liverpool and Manchester United have an intense rivalry that predates the managerial reign of Sir Alex and Signor Benitez. It is only fitting that our congratulations to them are tempered in the manner that Benitez expressed, a simple congratulations and it ends there. Phil mentioned that Sir Alex wrote a letter of congratulations to Benitez when Liverpool won the Champions league. He didn't mention that the letter of congratulations wasn't just that, it was complete with some sort of tactical analysis of the team. It was befuddling to say the least when a letter to say congratulations would have sufficed. At any rate, we look forward to a renewed rivalry next season....

  • Comment number 83.

    phil...a long time reader of ur blog....commenting first time
    you seriously believed u wanted to take up such a frivolous topic for your blog??
    agreed rafa wd have shown some class had he wished fergie...but then maybe fergie deserves it given the way he behaves himself
    btw...rememeber the losses manchester united suffered and fergie didnt come himself for the interviews!!
    now going by what u've just taken up as a topic, u might as well have considered that as a topic to blog on
    look forward to more stuff regarding the other teams other than jsut the big 4

  • Comment number 84.

    The point isn't about whether SAF deserves the plaudits, or if he's something of a bully - I'm a United fan of 30 years and I won't argue with either of those issues. But Benitez, Wenger, Hiddink/Scolari and all had exactly the same opportunities this season - to win games by playing to the end or draw them at home cos they didn't have the guts or imagination, to talk smack about their opponents in their own inimitable way (re Fergie's Yuletide comments and the responding 'rant'; let's face it, they both had a point). At the end of the season the best team always holds the Premiership trophy, and it's usually because their manager cajoled/coached/yelled at them best throughout the year. It doesn't matter if you hate it, Rafa, or that scousers everywhere are burning up inside that we've levelled the league tally - you're letting your club and yourself down by being too petulant to just mutter darkly about looking forward to meeting us next season and shaking the hand like a true sportsman.

  • Comment number 85.

    Benitez must blank everything Ferguson says and does from his mind and concentrate every fibre solely on Liverpool.
    ------------------------
    Phil do you think SAF should be allowed to get on with whatever he wants to say, whatever he wants to accuse fellow pros of, prospectively hassle referees, not come out to talk to the press after losing a match?

    Should other managers just ignore him, yes? Is that what you are saying? Personally, I would have liked 2 things to happen:

    1. Benitez to take the moral highground by congratulating a man that accused him of actions that were beneath contempt, without having the evidence to back it up.

    2. Journalists to actually pull SAF up at press conferences on his hypocrissy and collusion (written in the blog) in which he made ridiculous accusations. They won't though will they? The suggestion that SAF is the master of mind games and every other manager should just ignore him will continue.

  • Comment number 86.

    The Benitez Ferguson relationship is a godsend to journalists and bloggers all. It is worth noting that Ferguson in his letter of congratulations to Liverpool for winning their latest European Cup included an opinion of how Ferguson would have done it better. Why everybody in UK seems to have the opinion that Benitez should be gracious is beyond me. Benitez famous rant was in response to various comments from Ferguson, usually from MUTV interviews, which usually go without reponse from the other top clubs. Ferguson uses the MUTV interviews to answer planted questions. Since then the sniping has become a bit more personal culminating in the Ferguson Allerdyce axis last month. Foreign Managers are not schooled in the 'play up, play up and play the game' mentality of 'Vitae Lampada' and Henry Newbolt. Ferguson uses 'gamemanship' or 'mind games' to unsettle his opponents and everybody is supposed to admire it and in the end shake hands and slap each other on the back. Why?. Benitez only speaks the truth when he says that money wins and when Liverpool do win it will also be bacause money has played a part.
    The idea that Ferguson is this clever, magnaminous, generous winner is rubbish. He is the one that bans critical journalists, will not speak to the BBC, cancels interviews with Sky etc. He gets away with it because the winner writes the rules. Benitez will win in the end if he manages to stay in the Premiership as a Manager simply because he is younger and getting better season by season.

  • Comment number 87.

    and as I said in the blog, the man with the trophies wins every time in these arguments.
    --------------------
    No matter how they behave during the season? Even if they may owe another man an apology? I really do give up!

  • Comment number 88.

    Do we really want another manager to be all "respectful" and just nod his head accepting united are better or do you want someone to try and shake it up a bit
    Benetiz is no doubt bitter and irritated by Fergie and his success but the fact he wants to keep taking him on is far more interesting to me than a nod of approval

  • Comment number 89.

    I share Rafa's view on the best team in the permiership this season. It

    is hard to believe that man utd is the best team when you compare their

    performaers with chelsea and liverpool. United did not score the most

    goals, did not conceed the least goals,and did not win the most away

    matches. They simply won the most home matches and did not conceed cheap

    goals as chelsea and liverpool. Compare this statistic with last year

    statistic, and you will understand why banitez feel that Man United is

    not the best team. I think ferguson will claim that a team could be

    champion if the team is better than others in all areas of the game or

    could still be champion if the team is better in some areas that

    matters most. Whichever way you look at it and whatever factors you

    consider, it is safe to say that united's hold on the premiership is

    slowly fading with time.

  • Comment number 90.

    Sky went with the 'refusal to say united were the better side' angle on this story and that, in my opinion is ridiculous. Liverpool beat united twice, why should he join the annual bout of sycophancy along with everyone else? It's just boring to expect it from all.

    btw, to many on here, the BBC has quoted Rafa as saying "I prefer just to say well done to the club, a big club, a good club,", looks like congratulations to me... I don't blame him for not saying well done to the man himself as SFA made it personal with his pathetic attack, which put friendships and the professional relations of others on the line for his vanity (Lee-Allardyce for example).

    so Rafa didn't say well done to SFA, he could have, maybe he should have, but I can understand why he didn't.

  • Comment number 91.

    Fergie does tend to polarise opinion, you either love him or hate him. But not many people know how much support, advice and encouragement he gives to other managers throughout the leagues. The vast majority respect and like him, not just because he's been successful but because he's a warm and generous man. I think Rafa, if the media reports are to be believed, is being a little silly but making this an issue. It does make him look like a sore loser and will only alienate people to him. Jose, on the other hand, knew how to create that 'siege mentality' without having to resort to sulking. So come on Rafa, give praise where it's due, be the big man, and let your tactics do the talking next season.

  • Comment number 92.

    I have never liked Rafael Benitez, he will never be held in the same regard and affection as Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, etc. Men who were true gentlemen who would have congratulated Ferguson and United. As someone else said, he needs a big dummy. Why did Liverpool lose the title ? Because Benitez did not have enough strikers to cope with injury. And if he is not happy with Annfield, then he knows what he can do !

  • Comment number 93.

    I'm torn on this issue. Part of me says that Rafa should rise above Ferguson's petty games and ignore his attempts to undermine him (gesturegate).
    The other part of me says it's time somebody stood up to Ferguson, who is surely the most arrogant man in football, and I'm glad Rafa has done so. Rafa congratulated Man U and rightly so, but there is no need for him to be pandering to Ferguson. Rafa just says what a lot of people in football dare not about Ferguson.

  • Comment number 94.

    Fergie is the biggest hypocrite in Football. He has fallen out with more managers than Katie Price has had boob jobs. This isnt because he has been respectful, gracious in the past, its because of his childish disrespectful ways. Rafa has given him some of his own medicine back and Rudolphs attack alongside Alladyce earlier this year was just him going back to type. We also saw defeats to Liverpool & Fulham where Bacon nose wouldnt even front up to the cameras because he was a bad loser. I for one am not praising Rafa in his outbursts and wished he would just let the players do the talking on the pitch. What I find hilarious, is the Man Utd fans crying into there baby bottles because Rafa bites back.

  • Comment number 95.

    Why should Rafa be obliged to congratulate SAF personally? By acknowledging Man Utd's achievement as a successful Club is more than enough. Bearing in mind what's gone on this season between the pair of them I don't think SAF would have been that congratulatory if Liverpool had won it.
    Fair play though United deserve it as the table doesn't lie, and Rafa should be pleased as at last Liverpool made a creditable challenge.
    One thing that SAF should be credited for is his no nonsense approach - no player is bigger than the Club, and to this both he and Rafa have something in common in that they both want their Clubs to be successful.
    Rafa good luck for next season !!

  • Comment number 96.

    To wengitari...The best team wins the title. Simple.

    Manchester City did the double over United last season - it hardly made them the better side, so your logic is sadly flawed.

    You may not like it, but this is the brutal truth. It was also the maxim of many of the legendary Liverpool managers such as Shankly and Paisley, who lived by the creed that "the table doesn't lie."

    It may tell a few fibs at certain times of the season...but not at the end.

  • Comment number 97.

    wengitari - how many games have Liverpool had when the opposition have had a player sent off? how many games have liverpool scored crucial goals in injury time? How many times does Gerrard get away with diving? For you to preach on about how United have had luck and decisions going there way is hypocritical and bitter as Liverpool have had more than fair share of luck this season. Just because Liverpool beat United, doesn't they are the best team to win the LEAGUE. But go on, whatever your rocks your hypocritical boat to make yourself feel better about United winning the title

  • Comment number 98.

    Why should Rafa congratulate SAF personally when all he is doing is using the same tactics as the great sourpuss himself. Liverpool trounce Utd 4-1 at their own gaff and SAF says Utd where the best team. Stevie G wins the Player of the Year award and SAF says it should have gone to Vidic. And as for "gesture gate"... the man was really out of touch there. Master of mind games ..... my arse as Ricky T may put it. I think Rafa is getting under his skin. This can only get more interesting as SAF meets his match. Bring it on.

    Footysage

  • Comment number 99.

    When someone questions your integrity (or that of your family... you'll see where I'm going with this in a moment), then I think you can be within your rights to be a little annoyed. If we're going to level this claim of arrogance or petulance, or whatever other label you want, at Rafa, then you've got to look at Fergie, too. The BBC made some not-so-nice claims about his son a while back, you know. Fergie's response? He doesn't speak to them again, ever!

    Now I don't necessarily agree with Rafa's actions on this, but let's not have lots of name calling from the Mancs when they have a man at the helm who acts just like this (if not worse) on a far more regular basis.

  • Comment number 100.

    He congratulated Manchester United!I really think thats enough.Why on earth should he kow tow to Ferguson who has proved to be a vile uncouth man?

 

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