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Chelsea Boss Is Cracking Up Again

Four years ago we enjoyed one of the most important title races in years. United and Liverpool were going head to head, with United looking to equal Liverpool’s record of 18 titles, whilst Liverpool were trying to put themselves two clear of United.

Ahead of their game against Stoke City, Rafael Benitez famously brought a sheet of ‘facts’ about manager Sir Alex Ferguson. You can only imagine how pleased this will have made our manager at the time. Benitez had an important game to prepare for and instead he was obsessing over our manager. Benitez was rattling off dates, decisions made by referees, comments made by Ferguson, complaints about United’s ‘easier’ fixtures, and used the word “fact” repeatedly.

I’ve often wondered since what must have been going through Benitez’s head when he decided to dedicate his pre-match press conference to Ferguson and United. He must have honestly thought that showing up with his sheet of ‘facts’ was a good idea, and that it wouldn’t make him look like a raving lunatic.

“Maybe they are nervous because we are at the top of the table,” he said. Over the next two months, Liverpool picked up just 10 points from a possible 21 and United were away. Rafa took his eye off the ball and United went on to equal Liverpool’s record of 18 titles. “18 times and that’s a fact,” Old Trafford sung, before winning our 19th title two years later.

Benitez was sacked a year later when they finished 7th in the league, 33 points off top spot, and was paid off with £6m. He then went to Inter Milan and was sacked a few months in to the job after turning the team that had just won the Treble a few months earlier in to the 6th best side in Italy.

Whilst Liverpool fans have repeatedly called for him to return, much to our disappointment, he stayed away from the Premier League, and from work all together in fact. Two years after being sacked by Inter, Benitez got a phone call from Roman Abramovich, asking him to replace Roberto Di Matteo at Chelsea.

Abramovich played perfectly in to United’s hands with the baffling decision of appointing Benitez. Firstly, what did Abramovich hope to get out of the players when knowing that their latest manager, one of a very long line they’ve played under in the past 10 years, was only there until the end of the season? We already know that several Chelsea players have an issue with authority, so did Abramovich seriously expect those players to slog their guts out for another manager they that knew would be disappearing in a few months?

Secondly, the fans despise him, and rightly so. The rivalry was fierce between Chelsea and Liverpool in the 2000s, with them regularly being drawn against each other in the Champions League. Liverpool fans sang about their history whilst Chelsea fans sang of their recent success.

“We don’t need to give away stupid plastic flags to our fans to wave,” Benitez said ahead of one of their Champions League games in 2007. “Our supporters are always there with their hearts and that is all we need. Its the passion of the fans that helps us to win matches, not flags. Chelsea fans lack passion.”

Some sections of the press have defended Benitez for these comments, claiming that managers have to fight for their current team, and that Chelsea fans should understand that. I can’t agree though. If managers taking swipes at opposition fans was a regular occurrence, then maybe Benitez’s comments could be explained, but when does that ever happen? There have been plenty of mind games and arguments between managers in the past, but Mourinho and Wenger never singled out our fans (even with our fans spending years chanting about Wenger being a paedophile). Ferguson hates Liverpool with a passion but has never criticised their support (despite all the shit throwing, ambulance ambushing, Munich mocking and the like). When Abramovich appointed a manager who the fans hate, did he seriously think they would allow it to be water under the bridge and support him regardless?

Thirdly, Benitez just isn’t that good. With the likes of Mata, Oscar, Hazard and now Ba, Chelsea could be a real threat. But Benitez loves a bit of rotation and will drop his best players even when there’s not another league game for ten days or more. That’s just what he does. Benitez last (and only) real success was with Valencia and that was almost 10 years ago. He won the Champions League in 2005 but it wasn’t with a team he created, and Liverpool had to totally sacrifice competing in the league to achieve it, finishing 5th that season. Football management seems to be one of the few careers where failing sees you rewarded with a new job, and thankfully, one of our supposed title rivals decided to give one to him

Whilst it was clear Di Matteo still had some learning to do, you have got to applaud a manager who takes charge of a team in decline with just a few months of the season remaining and manages to win the European Cup and FA Cup. Whilst he was going through a rocky patch this season, Chelsea were still only four points behind United and serious title challengers. After two months of Benitez, that gap has grown to eleven points.

You would think then, after going from embarrassment to embarrassment, Benitez might want to keep a low profile and stay under Ferguson’s radar. Apparently not. Benitez was asked about Ferguson’s recent criticism of the linesman who didn’t flag for a blatant penalty for Rooney at the weekend and happily gave his thoughts.

“Maybe now a lot of people are seeing the same things,” Benitez said yesterday. “I will not talk too much about that because it’s obvious. It’s a question for the FA what they do about it. What I said at that time was what I thought and what I’m seeing now is similar. It depends on the FA. I don’t know what they will do.”

Anyone sensible, with at least half a brain, would have been able to work out that this journo was looking to stir. A wry smile followed by “What Ferguson does is none of my business” would have done the trick. Instead, Benitez chooses to refer back to his mental breakdown in 2009 as if there was any validity to what he said and as if it didn’t make him a laughing stock.

Ferguson wasn’t the only person Benitez took a swipe at, with him losing the plot when confronted with what his former player, Marco Materazzi, had to say about him.

“He is not my ideal coach,” he said. “If I was a club president, I’d never employ him. A great boss like Marcello Lippi or Mourinho knows how to get their demands across to a dressing room. Whereas Benítez, well he wanted to put them all in writing, 10 or 12 rules, like the Highway Code or being at school. At Inter’s training centre there were photos on the wall of all the most successful past coaches, from Helenio Herrera to Roberto Mancini and Mourinho. Benítez had the ones of José taken down. With that gesture, he showed his character: that of a weak person.”

Benitez was furious about this and instead of banging on about ‘facts’, he decided to repeatedly call Materazzi a liar.

“He’s lying,” he said. “He’s lying. He’s lying, just lying. Everything he has said is a lie. Simple. It’s all a lie. Nobody knew Mourinho was leaving after the European Cup final in 2010 and no one knew the Inter position would be available. Nobody knew I was going to Inter, even me. So it’s a lie. I went there and wanted to be professional and to respect people.”

The only sad thing about this is that Benitez will probably be gone at the end of the season, meaning the remaining few months are unlikely to produce a full scale melt down. However, if Ferguson gets to work stirring the pot and Chelsea can’t find anyone daft enough to take the job off him, we might get to enjoy plenty more rants like these.

Viva la Rafalution!

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. mig78 says:

    Jonny @ 23.58, that was hillarious. nice.

  2. andromeda says:

    This would make Fergie’s press conference interesting, can’s wait;)

  3. Mr C says:

    I can’t believe some of the nonsense I read on here. The ball-boy didn’t get a kicking, more’s the pity for that. Hazard kicked the ball from under the little twat who was deliberately lying on top of it and by feigning some sort of fall or injury to waste time. Just look at the video footage. The attention seeking cunt even boasted on twitter about his time-wasting skills BEFORE the match so that folks could check out his antics. For the sake of a good story, or because they hate Chelsea, people are overlooking the ball boys provocative antics and dumping on Hazard.

    No wonder the country is overrun with bed-wetting yobbos.

    As for Eric ‘Dieu’ Cantona booting that disgusting fascist at Palace that was one of his finest moments, ban or no ban.

  4. Costas says:

    Now that a few hours have passed, I’d say the Hazard incident has plenty of guilty parties. One of the few times I actually agree with the FSW. First and foremost, Hazard has overreacted. When something like that happens, just report it to the ref and ask for another ball ffs.

    The ball boy isn’t in the clear either. I am not going to claim he feigned injury since none of us know how much contact was actually made. But he was acting like a right dick. According to online reports, this is what he said on twitter ahead of the game: “The king of all ball boys is back making his final appearance #needed #for #timewasting”. If that’s true, then it would be unfair to pin all the blame on Hazard. The ball boy and even Swansea have some answering to do as well.

    We’ll see what the FA makes of it. The United fan in me wants to see them finally apply the same set of rules for another team like they do for us. But it won’t happen. Carragher once got into a fight with a fan. Bellamy slapped a United fan. Alan Smith once threw a bottle towards the crowd. None of them got even a small fraction of Eric’s ban. Hazard will probably get a 4-8 game ban.

    P.S. Finally, I had to laugh at Ashely Williams condemning the incident. He’s to talk!

  5. Andromeda says:

    Excuse me!but the way you are about to justify Hazard’s antic is plain idiocy?!obviously Mr.Hazard was in rush of time and the dumbass didn’t care where the ball or the boy’s rib were lying.this is not just a plain justification, you can see that by yourself, the intensity of the kick and the agility of his limb, you can’t just kick a ball with such force while its so intimately in contact with someone’s chest.

    So please don’t act like a moralist.the behavior of Hazard was plain wrong no matter how the boy deliberately trying to keep the ball.its a matter of maturity how you behave in those situation and your Haphazard player was not mature enough!that is all’ admit it.

  6. Mr C says:


    Moralist? Look up the word before you misuse it. I mean, check out your own comments.

    “the behavior of Hazard was plain wrong no matter how the boy deliberately trying to keep the ball”

    That’s moralising.

    If the little attention seeking scrote hadn’t been lying on the ball, trying to time-waste on behalf of his club, he wouldn’t have got in the way. He didn’t get a kicking either as has been indicated on here by some. Pity he didn’t. Another gobby yob playing the victim and the press selling copy.

  7. andromeda says:

    @Mr. C
    You say
    Moralist? Look up the word before you misuse it. I mean, check out your own comments

    I am not about to misuse it, look up your previous are trying to justify and rectify Hazard antic by making your own scenario, while there ample empirical evidence for him to be guilty of such act, in that way you are making your own theory by yourself”that is plain medieval I am afraid”

    And when I say”the behavior of Hazard was plain wrong no matter how the boy deliberately trying to keep the ball”

    The thing I want to explain here is, football players should be mature enough to handle any emotional reaction from the opposition fans, we learned that from our past mistakes, and now its entering our genes and tradition.At white heart lane, a stupid fan has thrown snowball on Evra, but the lad responded with a laughter on his face, that should be the mentality.

    Then you say:
    “If the little attention seeking scrote hadn’t been lying on the ball, trying to time-waste on behalf of his club, he wouldn’t have got in the way. He didn’t get a kicking either as has been indicated on here by some. Pity he didn’t. Another gobby yob playing the victim and the press selling copy.
    “If the little attention seeking scrote hadn’t been lying on the ball, trying to time-waste on behalf of his club, he wouldn’t have got in the way. He didn’t get a kicking either as has been indicated on here by some. Pity he didn’t. Another gobby yob playing the victim and the press selling copy.

    Now that is another ruthless attempt from you.BTW don’t worry I am sure he won’t get the proper punishment he deserves.

  8. Proverb says:

    Since Hazard has joined Chelsea, they have lost Community Shield to City, went out of Champions League, lost UEFA Super Cup to Atletico Madrid, Lost Club World Cup, are 11 points behind United and now they are out of Capital one cup.

    The twat that’s hazard is a plain hazard to his club and again I don’t care how people see it or how the ball boy has or ahould have behaved the reaction from mr hazard a professional football sets a trend more so than the ball boys attitude and should rightly be dealt with by the FA.
    Cantona got a lengthy ban and so should he

  9. Proverb says:

    Profession footballer*

  10. Manc Harvin says:

    Surely the most appropriate punishment would be for Hazard to be made to lie face down in the centre circle at Stamford Bridge at half time, then let the ball boy’s Dad come onto the pitch and give Hazard a good kick in the ribs.

    Then Benitez has to appear in full waiter’s uniform, and offer the Dad a refreshing iced drink from a tray.

  11. United_Forever says:

    I know the ball boy was being an idiot & shouldn’t have fallen on the ball, but can’t believe some are trying to defend Hazard. Sorry but when he kicked the ball from under the ball boy there is no way he could avoid making some contact with the kid & so he fully deserved his red card & deserves a long ban.

    Another thing that annoyed me from the sky picture is that immediately after the incident the pictures showed Hazard & the Chelsea players laughing about it, but the red card that followed soon wiped the smiles off their faces.

  12. Wakey says:

    @Mr C

    And if Hazard hadn’t pushed him in the first place he wouldn’t have been lying on the ball either. He was time wasting which all the ball kids do when their team needs them too. This includes Chelsea, its a tactic just as Everton removing all the spare balls against us a few seasons ago to waste time was a tactic, or Stoke giving the ball kids towels so the stoke players could dry the ball before throw ins or city changing the playing dimensions is a tactic of their pitch by moving the ad boards to prevent log throws is a tactic or even the the thing united do of changing how much water is put on the pitch before the game and at half time is a tactic.

  13. kel says:

    Big brain small mind? I love him here =)

  14. United Till I Die says:


    So if that was your 15 year old son in the Stadium, you’re telling me you’d stand up for Hazards right to push him over and kick him? What the fuck is wrong with you?

  15. United_Forever says:

    Looking back at some of the earlier comments on this thread there was one really deluded post from KIT that had me amused. I’m sure he is a Liverpool fan as the majority of Chelsea fans can’t stand Rafa & so wouldn’t stick up for him,. But amongst his deluded comments he’s moaning about SAF calling Newcastle a wee club, umm how is what SAF said about Newcastle any different to when Rafa called Everton a small club when he was Liverpool manager ?

  16. zibbie says:

    Haha Rafa

  17. Mr C says:

    @United Till I Die – Are you a social worker or something? The ball boy ain’t some little kid. He’s a 17 y/o youth. In the UK he’s old enough to join the army, marry, drive a car and be charged with crimes as an adult.

    In less than an year’s time he’ll be old enough to vote.

    The little self-centred yob thought it was good laugh to piss about during the game and boasted about doing so beforehand. In the event it didn’t turn out to a big a laugh as he thought it would be. Tough shit.Let that be a lesson to him and his ilk the next time they fancy ‘having a laugh’ at other people’s expense.

  18. LoneStarRed says:

    @ Manc Harvin

    Rafa in full waiter’s uniform…..Hilarious

  19. murt73 says:

    Think there are alot of similarities between himself and manuel from good oul Faulty Towers,( sorry Manuel!) both very entertaining in their own funny little way

  20. United Till I Die says:

    @Mr C – im not far off. And nobody knew he was 17 when he was kicked, especially the bloke kicking him. I don’t disagree he was taking the piss, course he was, but players don’t kick referees or linesmans when they take the piss, and supporters don’t advocate kicking them either, so the fact that so many are suddenly okay with a ball boy being kicked – the easiest target in the whole fucking ground – over a bit of time wasting? nah thats fucking cowardly mate I can’t describe it any other way. You wanna be the hard man kick the REF. People would call that stupid, but kicking the ball boy is smart? What kinda degenerate, fucked up mentality is that?

    Cantona kicked a man like it was legal, but I don’t think there is a ball boy in the land that would’ve earned any sort of kick from him back in the day. Do you? Hazard is a fucking coward mate. End of.

  21. United Till I Die says:

    *im not far off it.


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