Like naughty schoolboys sent to the headmaster’s office Sir Alex and Rafa have been given detention. The head of the League Manager’s Association, Richard Bevan, has told the warring bosses that enough is enough and they both need to quit their bickering.
In the last few months the United and Liverpool managers have been firing volleys at each other ranging from Ferguson’s bullying of officials to Benitze’s body language. Now Bevan wants this to stop, but surely this would take some of the spark out of the title race?
No one knows whether the trophy will end up at Old Trafford or at Anfield come the end of May but both managers’ are confident that it will be their side crowned champions. Confident to the extent of arrogance? Well that is what Ferguson’s latest tirade has centred on, the arrogance of Benitez’s hand gestures during Liverpool’s recent 4-0 drubbing of Blackburn Rovers. Although the Spaniard has not responded his assistant Sammy Lee claims that Rafa is most certainly not arrogant. It is plain to see that he is not.
This is all just part of the circus of the Premier League the pantomime of the game we love. Yes of course there are rivalries and yes of course some of the managers probably do not see eye to eye, but are you honestly telling me that Ferguson and Benitez hate each other? Do you honestly believe that the man known as Big Sam was hurt by his counterpart mouthing ‘it’s done’ to his players? Come on this sort of stuff is not a far cry from the scripted world of wrestling.
Mourinho’s infamous silencing finger gesture to the Liverpool fans during his tenure at Chelsea sent the Scouse faithful mad. This is precisely why he did it, to increase the interest and hype surrounding the game, his players and ultimately himself. It is hardly a new thing for Rafa who has been bickering with the United boss for months:
9th January 2009 – Rafael Benitez attacks Sir Alex Ferguson claiming that ‘all managers need to know is that only Mr Ferguson can talk about the fixtures, can talk about referees and nothing happens.’
11th January 2009 – Ferguson claims that ‘Rafa’s Rant’ is ‘weird’ and that he slightly ‘worried’ about his rival.
10th March 2009 – Benitez claims that Ferguson is ‘scared’ after Liverpool beat Real Madrid 4-0.
14th March 2009 – Ferguson fumes after losing 4-1 at home to Liverpool in a game that Rafa describes as ‘almost perfect.’
11th April 2009 – Liverpool beat Blackburn 4-0 when 2-0 up Benitez gestures to his back four and mouths ‘it is done.’
17th April 2009 – Ferguson claims that this behaviour is ‘arrogant and insulting’ to Sam Allardyce and Blackburn.
20th April 2009 – Assistant Manager at Liverpool, Sammy Lee defends his boss, claiming that ‘Liverpool are a humble club and don’t talk about other clubs.’
So that brings us up to speed more or less. With only a few weeks left one thing is for certain that regardless of whether Bevan hopes the two stop, it won’t happen. Ferguson has been doing this for years and is a master and simply will not care whether or not he gets a strongly worded letter from the LMA. As for Rafa he still looks a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights, still a bit shocked to be this close and he doesn’t seem to want to let the United boss scores points on him.
What remains to be seen is who will take the trophy come the end of the season and who will have won the Benitez and Ferguson war of the words.