Friday, January 9, 2009

Head Games

Very few things in life are certain. After death & taxes, the list of certainties (like my patience for C Ronaldo) is short. But, among those gleaming truths is the fact that Alex Ferguson will attempt to play mind games with his opponents. And over the past few weeks, in between whines about United's schedule, he's doled out some well-measured dollops of psychological poison by suggesting Liverpool don't have the bottle to win the Premier League.

Love him or hate him, the man knows what he's doing. (see Keegan, Kevin)

For too long, SAF has acted like the schoolyard bully, roughing up whomever he wishes for their lunch money. Unfortunately, save a few top men (see Mourinho, Jose), very few seem eager to go toe-to-toe with the boot-kicker.

Yet, today that may have changed.

Ahead of his team's meeting with Stoke, Rafa Benitez fired off a volley towards to the red-nosed Scot during his pre-match press conference on Friday. When asked about SAF's comments on a possible Liverpool choke, the Spaniard ratcheted up his rhetoric towards his rival manager.

Within seconds of the posed question, Rafa pulled out a sheet of paper and rattled off a number of 'facts' about Sir Alex's behavior towards the referees and his whinging about the schedule. While reaction to Rafa's 'tirade' has been predictably mixed, it certainly was amusing.

Watch Benitez's diatribe here.
Or, if you live like a savage and can't watch video, here's the text.

My personal favorite excerpt, on SAF's unhappiness with the schedule:

"Or there is another option. That Mr Ferguson organises the fixtures in his office and sends it to us and everyone will know and cannot complain. That is simple."
Now, as a Liverpool fan, I'm eating this up. It's like watching the bully demand milk money for the hundredth time, but this time his target reaches into his pocket and responds with a punch in the nose. Others think this is exactly what SAF wants and that Rafa blew his lid. (hardly)

Nonetheless, it's fun to watch and should give the title run-in just that much more juice. It'll be interested to see how the crusty old manager responds.


jjf3 said...

here's the part that I wonder about (not a fan of either) - has SAF picked this moment for a reason, or has Rafa's punch to the nose in return counteracted SAF's intent? I really like Rafa calling him on the schedule, but I wonder if SAF's setting him up "early" just to raise the temperature in the Liverpool lockerroom, before stomping on them. Again, not a fan, but it's clear SAF can play head-games with Kreskin...much less another EPL manager...

phil said...

The last line of your post perfectly displays the trick bag any manager gets caught in when SAF decides to run his yapper about them. If they don't respond, they look meek, and the press will loudly say so. If they dare to respond the His Puffy Redness in kind, the press tells us this is just what Fergie wanted, that the manager who dared tell Fergie to feck off is playing into Fergie's hands.

Fergie always wins. And He always wins because so many in the press are his all too-willing lickspittles.

Mike Georger said...

When I saw this today, I immediately felt bad for all the shit I've given Rafa. I take it all back. The man gets it.

Ferguson is a cancer. Rafa is the ... what cures cancer?

Liss said...

Its quimiotherapy Mike

Liss said...

It never works

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, former ref Graham Poll has spoken out to back Rafa:

"Rafa Benitez has articulated what referees have been thinking for years - that Sir Alex Ferguson can say what he wants about them and the FA will allow him to get away with it."