In a bizarre tangent from the usual sniping and obtuse mind games, Manchester United’s No.2 has instead decided to opt for praising Sunday’s opponents. Days before the Anfield showdown with Liverpool, Carlos Queiroz has bigged-up his supposed mortal enemy Rafa Benitez.
Expressing disbelief that people are talking about Benitez being insecure in his job, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Portuguese deputy said:
“After everything Rafa has done for Liverpool, he doesn’t deserve to be under this kind of pressure. I’ve known him for a long time and he is a great coach and a great man.
“I think the bad things of continental football are arriving in England. In the past five years there has been a definite change, more coaches are under pressure than at any other time I can remember, and it is a bad thing.”
Queiroz, clearly overflowing with the kindly spirit of Christmas, then went on to explain why he regarded Liverpool as such a threat. He said:
“The current side has better balance than in previous seasons, their consistency is much better and they have had some very good results. They are strong, well balanced, with good organisation and very good defensively, and, as always with Benitez, they also have players who are showing they have a lot of ability and skill.”
If Rafa is as perplexed by this random effusion of praise as we are, then he’ll spend the night before the game addled by insomnia and tossing and turning over possible sinister motivations for this praise fest, and will turn up at Anfield a wreck of a man. A genius plan from the Lord of the Ferg.