8 Apr 2009

Is Rafa aware of the irony?

On the eve of a crucial champions league game with Chelsea, Rafael Benitez has been baiting Manchester United in the press again, seemingly unaware of the amusing irony of his words.

According to Benitez: “We just concentrate on our team, while he [Alex Ferguson] likes to talk too much about other teams”.

Hmmm. For someone who supposedly concentrates only on Liverpool, Benitez seems to spend an inordinate amount of time talking about other teams.

Benitez’s comments were in response to the clearly provocative observation by Alex Ferguson:

“I think the winner of the Chelsea-Liverpool European tie will be our biggest threat”.

Wow. How dare Ferguson suggest something so entirely unreasonable!

In response, Benitez went on the offensive, claiming the Ferguson is ‘a little bit scared’ of Liverpool.

He also rambled on about other inconsequential things, including claiming that Ferguson would be supporting Liverpool in the game against Chelsea.

Cue endless headlines creating unnecessary media attention ahead of tomorrow's game. Was it really worth adding more fuel to fire and offering the media a chance to further sensationalise the ‘Ferguson vs. Rafa’ spat?

This pointless, self-satisfied grandstanding will only back to haunt Benitez at some stage. Why can’t he and the team just tone down the triumphalism and concentrate on the task at hand?


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  1. It's a little disconcerting that a post expressing virtually the same opinion is also on the republikofmancunia website. Now this is not to say that you can't agree with them Jaimie, but honestly, if you watched Fergie's gloating interview after the game he was almost dismissive of our challenge. Rafa was correct in responding, therefore, and in any event, he was replying to a journalist's question. This was not an impetuous "rant" as much as the media would have us believe.

  2. What is 'disconcerting' about it exactly? What exactly are you suggesting?

    Once again, it's a matter of judgement - did Rafa *need* to perpetuate the media circus on the eve of a crucial game? Is it the best preparation? How can this be the 'correct' way to behave?

    Whether he was replying to a journalist's question is irrelevent. Did the journalist force him to say Ferguson was 'scared' of Liverpool? No.

    Liverpool are just asking for trouble with their self-satisfied overconfidence. it just riles up rival players and makes them want to try harder.

    Last season's CL semi-final with Chelsea is a prime example. On the even of the game, Rafa had a go at Drogba, saying how he was a diver and how Liverpool 'knew all about him' etc.

    What happened? Drogba was fired up for the game, scored a goal and deliberately celebrated right in front of Rafa, clearly indicating he'd read the comments.

    Things have gone Liverpool's way so far, but if they keep tempting fate, it will eventually turn against them.

    And then they will only have themselves to blame.

  3. I was not suggesting anything, merely expressing my discomfort at the coincidence. If you think I am accusing you of being a Manc, that is absolutely not true. Whatever arguments we have engaged in, I have never called you that. I know that you are an avid supporter of the club. Just because you express opinions that are dissonant with mine does not make you a Manc in my eyes. I just want to clarify that.

    I don't agree that Drogba was fired up by Benitez's comment. If he wasn't already motivated by the chance to lead Chelsea into their first Champions league final, then he shouldn't have been playing in the first place. That Rafa incited him is only incidental, and is a post hoc assessment of Drogba's performance.

    In the same way, I don't think Rooney's comments about "hating" Liverpool elicited any more passion from the players before the United game that they did not already possess.

    The only one I can think of in recent times was the Marca headline - "This is Anfield - so what?". This was a deliberate affront to the club's identity and ethos and Torres was right to put that up in the dressing room in order to evoke anger, not increase motivation.

    In the same way, Ferguson was deliberately trivialising Liverpool's title bid by saying that everyone has been "screaming" about Liverpool mounting a title challenge. So in my mind, Benitez was absolutely correct to respond in the manner than he did.

    Why didn't Ferguson make the comment two weeks ago when United had just been beaten by Fulham? Oh that's right, he was "annoyed" with the media. United win a game, and all of a sudden, there he is, bloviating about how "winning is the name of the game" and making pathetic attempts to fire up Liverpool in the hope that we might implode. If Rafa behaved like Fergie has in the last few weeks, the press would have villified him to no end.

  4. I do feel that Rafa is constantly being hung out to dry by the meeja. I saw him utter the words, and it was a mumbled, off-the-cuff remark to the hounds - said with a wry smirk.

    Ferguson has always had cart-blanche on opining about other clubs form. And history has shown that when confronted (through the press, admittedly) about it, he backs off. You never hear him sizing-up Arsenal anymore. And Mourinho was always too fleet-of-foot to take his eye off the ball when Ferguson got on his high-horse about Chelsea's style. "who are Champions?", was all Jose had to shrug.

    Don't forget, that this man doesn't even talk to Auntie. And now Sky have felt ire, because they had the audacity to question where it went wrong for them that day. Imagine being a ManU fan - waiting for your manager to speak after the biggest game of the season, and he does a no-show. Talk about biting the hand that feeds!

    I did think that Rafa's initial comments back in Jan were ill-timed, but the fullness of time has proved Rafa was right to point out Ferguson's methods.

    Ferguson has proved himself to be a hypocrite too. Remember during the Summer, how purple in the face he got when Madrid were huffing and puffing about them being the right choice for Ronaldo. Less than a fortnight later he was bigging-up Dimitar Berbatov. And not a hint of irony in his a later diatribe about clubs tapping-up players.