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.