Liverpool manager Benitez slams ‘untouchable’ FergusonJanuary 10th, 2009 - 2:51 pm ICT by IANS
London, Jan 10 (DPA) Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez slammed Alex Ferguson, accusing the Manchester United manager of being the only one who can criticise referees without punishment.The Spaniard, whose side sit three points clear at the top of the table, said Friday that Ferguson was wrong to criticise the fixture list, which, he said, actually favoured United in the second half of the season.
Ferguson was fined and given a touchline ban in November for his criticism of referee Mike Dean. The Scot also said that the fixture list was weighted in favour of his rivals for the title.
“We had a meeting in Manchester with managers and the Football Association about the ‘Respect’ campaign,” Benitez said. “And I was very clear, forget the campaign because Ferguson was killing the referees, killing (Martin) Atkinson, killing (Keith) Hackett.”
Responding to a question about Ferguson’s comments that Liverpool would be feeling the pressure at the top of the table, Benitez produced a sheet of paper and read a list of things that upset him about Ferguson’s conduct.
“I was surprised by what has been said, but maybe they (United) are nervous because we are at the top of the table,” he said.
“But I want to talk about facts. I want to be clear, I do not want to play mind games too early, although they seem to want to start.
“All managers need to know that only Ferguson can talk about the fixtures, can talk about referees and nothing happens.
“We need to know that I am talking about facts, not my impression. There are things that everyone can see every single week.
“Are they under pressure? Maybe they were not thinking that we would be at the top of the table in January. But we are at the top of the table and they are nervous.
“I am not telling the authorities what to do. But I have been here for five years and know how things are going on.
“To hear someone talking when he has problems with referees every single week, and now complaining about the fixtures and complaining about everything, I think that is not fair…
“If he wants to talk about fixtures, and have a level playing field as you say in England. There are two options if we don’t want more problems.
“One is (to have the same system) as in Spain, the draw for the first part of the league is known, everyone knows which weekend. In the second half everyone plays the opposite, so you all know.”
United, who already trail Liverpool by seven points, have two games in hand, and play second-placed Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.