Manchester United - Are You Keegan In Disguise, Rafa?
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Are You Keegan In Disguise, Rafa?

Oh dear. And here I was, thinking that Fergie's mind games get a little outdated now as everyone knows about them and expects them. Yet the Spanish clown fell for them so spectacularly that you couldn't have made it up.

Fergie, as you probably know, commented that Liverpool, due to lack of experience, might get nervous during the run-in and drop important points which would see United winning the league it for the third consecutive time. It is actually a compliment, well hidden, as it looks like Sir Alex considers Liverpool to be genuine title challengers.

But Rafa Benítez fell for the trap and his ego could bear no more. But, unlike Kevin Keegan, his famous predecessor, he hasn't simply lost it in front of a television camera, unable to control himself. No, he prepared a dossier and turned up at a pre-match press conference determined to turn it into a session of Fergie-bashing. A premeditated action it was - he lost the plot on the purpose.

'I was surprised by what has been said, but maybe they are nervous because we are at the top of the table.

'But I want to talk about facts. I want to be clear, I do not want to play mind games too early, although they seem to want to start.

'But I have seen some facts. On November 1, they played Hull and Mr Ferguson had a two-match touchline ban and a £10,000 fine after confronting Mike Dean, the referee, for improper conduct.

'We started the Respect campaign, and that was when Mascherano was sent off at Old Trafford.

'The referee was the referee when they played against Wigan - he could not see the handball against Wigan by Rio Ferdinand, he did not give a penalty. They won the game and they won the title in this game.

'I think it will be the same referee who will be in charge of their game in hand this season (against Wigan).

'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 Keith Hackett.

'He was not punished. He is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things.

'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 the 29th 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.

'And about his behaviour with referees. The Southampton manager he knows how Mr Ferguson works and how he works, he was very clear. I am not playing mind games, just facts.'

Now this is such a whole load of nonsense that anyone who is not an ABU will just laugh. I mean, he's saying Fergie can't be punished with a few sentences after confirming he was aware that Fergie had been punished after the Hull game. Or there's that Wigan game when a perfectly obvious foul on Scholes wasn't punished with a penalty... or we could mention the game against them (with the Mascherano red card) when Jamie Carragher should have been sent off in the 4th minute after fouling Rooney as a last man in the penalty area - yet no penalty was given.

As for the FA's supposed favouritism... yeah, Roy Keane's ban, Rio Ferdinand's suspension, the Amsterdam tournament in 2006 - all showed they love us? FA Cup 2000? Another instance of the FA backing United, isn't it?

No, I think it's obvious that dear old Rafa is cracking under the pressure. He knows that his team is not up to maintaining a title challenge, he knows that his captain might be in serious trouble despite the fact that throughout the country the press simply don't speak about it or if they do, they simply resort to indulgence over Saint Stevie... doesn't matter really.

I wouldn't go as far as saying that his words have already made an impact with Liverpool players, shown in their absolutely woeful display at Stoke... but the nerves Fergie spoke about are definitely jangling. An Arsenal-style collapse would be no great surprise now.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday January 10 2009

Time: 7:25PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
As a complete neutral here it still amazes me how fans/managers ect fall for fergies wind ups he has been doing it since the early 80s when he was manager of aberdeen.He is now 70 (i think?) you just have to admire him still knows how to play the game,as the saying goes you can take the man out of govan......
Report Abuse
10/01/2009 19:42:00

Well, they went and done us a favor today!
Report Abuse
10/01/2009 19:48:00

Haha! IT's funny how the Man Utd fans see this as Rafa falling for Fergie's trick! I know you love Slurguson but try to get your head out of his arsh at least once this season!
Report Abuse
10/01/2009 20:28:00

Hehe, Rafa blasting Fergie it's quite amusing to watch this develop :)
Report Abuse
10/01/2009 20:39:00

Aamir come on now i am not a man utd fan!
Report Abuse
10/01/2009 20:40:00

Aamir - He HAS fallen for the bait! Shame he couldnt win by influencing the refs though....
Report Abuse
10/01/2009 21:37:00

On this occasion I have to say Rafa is right!
Report Abuse
10/01/2009 22:06:00

I know, Dannybhoy! I'm guessing you're a Celt! I was aiming at the author. FU, what bait??? When Fergie comes out with a statement, its a 'mind game from the mind of a genius' but when it's anyone else, 'the bait has been taken'. How blinkered are you?!
Report Abuse
10/01/2009 23:33:00

Aamir - The way Rafa acted was like a kid really. Did Fergie say enough to warrant coming to a press conference with a list on a sheet!? Who DOES THAT!?? Clearly Fergie got under his skin!
Report Abuse
11/01/2009 01:43:00

FU, you just dont get it do you? i understand you morally have to defend Mr Ferguson, but this time its just all stubborness. lol
Report Abuse
11/01/2009 04:20:00

looks like rafa is the red nose this weekend
Report Abuse
11/01/2009 18:00:00

Would have been ok if he had actually stated some facts and done some research! The fact is he was talking a complete load of bollox in regards mascherano and the respect campaign (The respect campaign was started THIS season) and claimed serial Ronaldo dismisser steve Bennett favours united just made him look like a plank! Add to this that Fergie has just come off a 2 match touchline Ban = Rafa lost the plot.
Report Abuse
11/01/2009 21:44:00

Only saying what everybody knows.
Tiny T
Report Abuse
11/01/2009 22:44:00


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