It doesn’t matter what sport you follow, if you look back at any team that’s every won a championship, there’s always one game during the season that players and fans can point to as the turning point that made a season something special.
For Manchester United, that match could be Sunday’s 3-0 thrashing of Chelsea at Old Trafford. Five points back with two games in hand, Manchester United have their sights set squarely on Liverpool, who at the moment, have a slender lead that seems to be dwindling more and more every week.
After Sunday’s win, Ferguson thrashed into Benitez, calling the Spanish manager “disturbed” and “an angry man.” Who knows what Benitez’s comments will be when he takes the podium at the press conference this week, but as far as we know one thing is for sure: Sir Alex Ferguson is winning the verbal battle, and to Liverpool’s dismay, possibly the biggest battle of all.
Diplomatic relations between the two managers were called off when Benítez described Ferguson, in a list of carefully prepared grievances, as being “the only manager in the English league who cannot be punished” for offences against referees and suggested the United manager was allowed to operate with impunity by the Premier League and the FA.
“You have to cut through the venom of it,” Ferguson responded. “That’s my only response. There was a lot of venom in what he said and I don’t understand where it has come from. I think he was an angry man. He was obviously disturbed about something but I think when he reflects on it he will surely realise it is wrong. Hopefully he will reflect and understand that what he is saying is absolutely ridiculous.” (The Guardian)
Not only has Ferguson got Benitez on the offensive, but he’s also got the Liverpool manager thinking about something other than the next match. Saturday’s draw against bottom feeder, Stoke City, proved that Benitez could be losing focus of the situation at hand.
Maybe it’s time Benitez took a page out of Jose Mourinho’s book.
The former Chelsea manager, who hated Ferguson more than anyone else, had a way of getting under Sir Alex’s skin by not commenting on the manager’s comments. By not commenting, the issues went away, and Ferguson ended up looking like the manager with egg on his face. Chelsea then went about letting their actions on the pitch speak for themselves.
Benitez would do well to let the comments dissipate in the coming weeks and let Liverpool’s play on the pitch do the talking.