Monday, 20 April 2009

Ferguson and Allardyce round on Benitez

Some might call it mischief-making, others a gamble, but few would argue Sir Alex Ferguson's tirade at Rafa Benitez on Friday has added extra spice to an-already fascinating Premier League title race and simmering tension between the two managers.

What was more intriguing was that Ferguson was not alone in expressing his indignation for the Liverpool manager. Sam Allardyce, whose Blackburn side were on the receiving end of a 4-0 hammering by Benitez's Liverpool last weekend, also waded in with accusations of "disrespectful" and "quite humiliating" behaviour by the Spaniard in front of a rival manager.

The pair were pointing to an open-arm gesture made by Benitez in reaction ­to Fernando Torres' 33rd-minute header, as if to suggest "that's it, game over, job done".

Allardyce was visibly upset at his press conference having studied the footage again – and Ferguson could not hold back when pressed on the subject, accusing Benitez of "arrogance" and showing "contempt".

First, he let rip at Benitez for his ill-advised barb that Everton, United's FA Cup semi-final opponents at Wembley on Sunday, are a "small club".

Ferguson said: "Everton are a big club, not a small one which Benitez arrogantly said. But arrogance is one thing."

Then, he added: "You cannot forgive contempt, which is what he showed Sam Allardyce last weekend.

"In my experience no Liverpool manager has ever done that. It was beyond the pale."

Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho have both tried, but few managers have quite managed to rattle Ferguson like Benitez has recently.

Their strained relationship dates back to Benitez's extraordinary presentation of "facts" about the United manager, who he has also described as "nervous", and the Spaniard has refused to back down while his team have maintained their impressive assault on the title race.

Ferguson has never needed a second invitation to defend his club and players, so it's a safe football bet that this latest outburst should ensure a compelling end to the season.

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