Sir Alex Ferguson launched a scathing diatribe against Rafael Benitez yesterday, citing his “deplorably arrogant, twitching goatee” as an example of his “utter contempt for the aesthetic sensibilities of the League Manager’s Association (LMA)”.
According to Fergie, Rafa’s “dubiously manicured facial accouterment” epitomises his appalling disrespect for “struggling clean-shaven managers like Gareth Southgate, who have not been as providentially endowed with hirsuteness”.
No, Mr. Ferguson didn’t actually say those words, but the vitriolic nature of his latest attack on Rafa was just as ridiculous.
In tandem with his minion Sam Allardyce, the Manchester United manager has engaged in the most contrived and preposterous attempt at mental disintegration since, well, he last opened his mouth. Ferguson said:
“Arrogance is one thing. You cannot forgive contempt, which is what he showed Sam Allardyce last weekend. When Liverpool scored their second goal he signalled as if the game was finished. I do not think Sam deserved that.
“Sam has worked so hard for the LMA and he’s had a weakened team. I just thought it showed contempt. In my experience no Liverpool manager has ever done that. It was beyond the pale.”
Allardyce was unhappy at Rafa’s alleged “unfortunate gestures” after Liverpool scored their second goal.
“It was pretty dismissive to me and Blackburn – disrespectful and quite humiliating. The game is hard enough without a fellow manager making an undermining gesture.”
Even a cursory examination of the duo’s comments will reveal that Allardyce and Fergie had coordinated the attack. Indeed, for someone who contemplates what Rafa “does in his spare time”, Fergie himself has spent an inordinate amount of time colluding with his sycophantic colleague in order to formulate and propagate the laughable drivel on display today.
With respect to the contentious gesture, it is an unequivocal “facht” that Sam Allardyce was NOT the target. Pacing incessantly along the touchline as is Benitez’s wont, the manager was frantically trying to catch Xabi Alonso’s attention before he took the free kick preceding the second Liverpool goal.
Ostensibly, the manager was giving instructions to Alonso about where to direct the free kick. Alonso appeared to have ignored the order(s), but nevertheless, Torres scored. Consequently, Rafa’s ironic smile, rueful shrug and gesticulation towards Alonso seemed to say “Never mind, you proved me wrong, I won’t say anything else”.
For God’s sake, the gesture was more sheepish than contemptuous. And it did not insinuate anything about Blackburn’s capitulation. Nor was there any indication from the Liverpool manager that he considered the game to be over.
But Ferguson and Allardyce both know this, of course. Why else would Allardyce wait a week before expressing his displeasure? Because the invective was premeditated; a concerted effort to cast aspersions on the Liverpool manager’s integrity.
Judging from their criticism of Rafa’s alleged “contempt” for Blackburn, one would think he sent out a deck-chair, newspaper and coffee for Reina to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. What utter nonsense, really.
As many have noted, the psychological battle has now descended into the pitiful realm of puerile playground tactics. Obviously, Rafa wasn’t aware that the rules allow him to call on a “big” friend to help him out.
What an exciting prospect! Just imagine Alan Shearer condemning Fergie for his “bovine, gum-chewing antics” as being “offensive towards zebras, and by extension, Newcastle United”.
Now THAT would be entertaining.