“I want to talk about facts,” Benitez starts. “I want to be clear, I do not want to play mind games too early, although they seem to want to start.”
So, we’re talking facts are we Rafa? Excellent.
Fact: “On November 1, they played Hull and Mr Ferguson had a two-match touchline ban and a £10,000 fine after confronting Mike Dean, the referee, for improper conduct.”
Lie: “During the Respect campaign – and this is a fact – Mr Ferguson was charged by the FA for improper conduct after comments made. He is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things.”
So, is Ferguson the only manager in the league who’s not punished for comments he makes? Or does he get punished like everyone else? To start his rant by actually quoting an occasion Ferguson was punished by the FA for improper conduct then later go on to say he is the only manager who does not get punished by the FA for improper conduct is ridiculous.
But then, Ferguson is the only manager to criticise the decisions or performance of a referee without punishment, eh Mr. Benitez?
“I could see two games out there,” said Benitez in March last year. “There was one game before the sending-off and another one after it. He knows he made a mistake but to send a player off for this in a game as important as this is just not right.”
“Of course I am disappointed with the officials’ performance,” said Benitez in April last year. “It is not the first time this has happened to us and we are really disappointed. We can’t blame the referee for the own goal at the end, but we can for the time. It was one minute in the first half and then four minutes in the second. It’s difficult to explain.”
Sorry, I forgot Ferguson is the only manager whose comments go unpunished.
“The referee was the referee when they played against Wigan – he could not see the handball against Wigan by Rio Ferdinand, he did not give a penalty. They won the game and they won the title in this game.”
Oh right because this proves something. Wigan could have had a penalty in a game we won 2-0 and finished ahead of Chelsea who we had been ahead of all season. Conspiracy.
When United thrashed Liverpool 3-0 last season, United should have had a penalty too, according to The Liverpool Echo and the BBC. What about the penalty Hull should have had this season for a Javier Mascherano handball in the area, during the 2-2 at Anfield? We could go on and on looking at penalties given or not given but essentially it proves nothing. I’d expect some spotty 13-year-old on BBC 606 to make sniping remarks of this sort. Even the biggest Liverpool or Chelsea fan would be able to admit that United fully deserved to win the league last season and to imply that a penalty not given against us on the final day of the season has anything to do with our title is damn right childish.
“Then he was talking about the fixtures. Two years ago we were playing a lot of early kick-offs away on Saturdays when United were playing on Sundays. And we didn’t say anything.”
Two years ago, Liverpool played five early kick-offs on Saturday away from home (as did United). Sheffield United (August 19th), Everton (September 9th), Bolton (September 30th), Charlton (December 16th) and Watford (January 13th).
United played August 20th at 1.30pm then had another game three days later. Liverpool’s next game after the 19th was also three days later. United played Spurs on Saturday September 9th, not a Sunday. United played Newcastle on Sunday October 1st, which was followed by an International break meaning it had no real effect on the league. United played West Ham on Sunday December 17th. United played Villa on Saturday January 13th, not a Sunday.
So in fact, United played on a Sunday on three occasions when Liverpool had early kick offs and only one occasion did it have any bearing on the league.
“At Christmas, United played on the 29th and the rest of the teams played on the 28th. We were away against Newcastle two days after playing Bolton. They were playing about 40 hours later, they were not complaining then.” Just over a minute later, he babbled the same point again. “They cannot complain about the fixtures after they were playing on December 29 while the rest played on the 28th.”
The media didn’t make a fuss of United winning the FIFA World Club Cup which is maybe why Benitez forgot about our trip to Japan. Between the first game in December and the 29th of the same month, Liverpool played six games. In that same time period, United played seven games, and travelled to and from Japan. Of course, it was our choice to play in this competition, just as Liverpool chose to when they won the European Cup. However, with massive travelling time and another 90 minutes of football under our belts, I’m not sure how Benitez can believe his players were further disadvantaged by United having any extra day to play, in order for Setanta to show the game.
“You can see every single week how they put (referees) under pressure, we know this. We have seen it before. We have seen players sent off at Old Trafford and we do not see our opponents sent off. It is part of the game. But to complain and to always have an advantage is not fair.”
Of course, Liverpool never put the referees under any pressure to send any players off. Unless we recall last season when Steven Gerrard kicked his leg out in an attempt to win a penalty (as Ronaldo does and gets called a diver for doing so) whilst running side by side with Everton defender Hibbert. Mark Clattenburg clearly had a yellow card in his hand, ready to book Hibbert. Then Liverpool captain ran over and had a go at the ref, causing Clatternburg to change his mind and send the Evertonian off. If United do it, it’s not fair, according to Mr. Benitez, but should we just sweep it under the carpet when his own team are guilty of the exact same thing?
Some people are defending Benitez’s behaviour, making out he hasn’t lost the plot. He’s not shaking, so he’s not mad, right? Wrong. To show up at a press conference the day before your game and read from a list a load of incidents involving United is crazy. But even if you don’t think he’s crazy, it’s fairly obvious he’s not talking ‘facts’ at all. 1. Ferguson does get punished for improper conduct. 2. Liverpool didn’t play ‘a lot’ of early games on a Saturday when United were playing on a Sunday. 3. Quoting one off penalty decisions from last season, given these decisions get made wrongly for and against clubs on a weekly basis, is not the behaviour of a rational person. 4. Liverpool have seen their opposition players sent off after they put the referee under pressure.
Mr. Benitez, hypocrite? Fool? Mad man? I’ll go for all three.
The RoM Manchester United 2022-23 season preview is now available for just £6. It includes exclusive interviews with Patrice Evra and Kleberson, articles from the country's best football writers about our expectations for the season ahead and our brightest talents, as well as proposed transfer business and which youth players to keep an eye out for. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.