The last time a manager ahead of the Great Sir Alex Ferguson’s team, decided to lambast or play mind games on the legend, that manager ended up losing the title to Sir Alex and his triumpant Manchester United team. This man is Kevin Keegan of Newcastle United( not this season, I know my football and Newcastle have been inconsistent to say the least, maybe they might even get relegated). It was the 1996 season, where the famous quote- “I’d love it” was rendered on a television show.
This happened in a season, Newcastle was sitting atop the premier league with a decent 12 points and would eventually lose it to Sir Alex Ferguson, more hurtful, that Ferguson’s boys defeated Newcastle at home to take the difference to one point. This was between January and March 1996.The point here is to draw the relevance to Spanish cup coach, 2 times champions league winner with 2 different teams, Rafa Benitez who thought it best to play some sort of mind game with the Sir Alex.
This is where the big question is: Would Liverpool eventually lose the league to Manchester United and would this mind battle have been the main reason behind it?
Here is a large chunk of Mr. Benitez’s outburst:
“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.
“You can see every 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.
“During the Respect campaign, and this is a fact, Mr Ferguson was charged by the FA for improper conduct after comments made about Martin Atkinson and [Premier League referees' manager] Keith Hackett. He was not punished. He is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things. How can you talk about the Respect campaign and criticise the referee every single week?
“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. Now he is complaining about everything, that everybody is against United. But the second half of the season will see them playing at home against all the teams at the top of the table, it is a fantastic advantage.
“But at Christmas, United played on December 29 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.
“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. Sky and Setanta have the rights to choose their games and it will be the same for everyone. So Mr Ferguson will not be complaining about fixtures and a campaign against United.
“There is another option. Mr Ferguson organises the fixtures in his office and sends it to us and everyone will know and cannot complain. That is simple.”
Since the famous press conference, Benitez troops have only rallied 2 points out of a possible 6, which has seen Manchester United now seated in the top position, albeit a game in hand. With many of us knowing of Sir Alex’s genuis, we might be forced to accept that United will not be losing that position except ‘something out of the ordinary happens’. Has Benitez jeopardise his teams chances of lifting its first premier league title since the ’89/’90 season?
GidiSports will like to hear your take on this. So please leave a comment and lets hear your opinion on this mind bugging debacle