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Benitez’s United Comments Wide Of The Mark


So the race is run and we football enthusiasts are left to pick the bones out of a season that had many twists and turns but concluded with a very familiar outcome. Yes, once again, for the the third time in a row Manchester United have won the Premier League title, and deservedly so. Liverpool pushed them all the way but their poor run after Christmas left them with too much to do.

One thing that we can say for certain is that after a number of seasons of cordiality between Rafa Benitez and Alex Ferguson, any rapport has been firmly cast aside. Both managers have been quick to fire broadsides during the season in a new dynamic, that has been at times childish but also entertaining.

Since Benitez’s infamous list of ‘facts’ in January, this managerial rivalry has been the one that has captured the attention and filled the headlines. Benitez was accused of ‘cracking up’ after that particular rant, but taking the comments with an aside of salt, there were grains of truth in what the Liverpool manager had to say.

This Saturday, Benitez was once again drawn on his Mancunian rivals and his summary of the gulf between Liverpool and Manchester United seemed to fly in the face of logic. In comments that appeared in The Guardian, before United’s match against Arsenal, Benitez gave a begrudging assessment of Alex Ferguson’s team and opined that the main difference between the two sides was the financial advantage that Ferguson enjoys at the Old Trafford club.

It is certainly true that Manchester United possess a financial edge and pulling power that few other clubs can muster in the Premier League. Their squad has been assembled over a number of years, at some cost, that is not in dispute. But financial muscle is not the reason Manchester United have remained ahead of their rivals for a third season in succession. The strength and depth of Manchester United’s squad has been the main difference between them and Liverpool, but this strength is not gleaned purely through their bank balance.

When you consider the elements of Alex Ferguson’s squad that have stepped into the breach, and made particularly telling contributions, they are not players that have been procured through large transfer fees and wages. Players like John O’Shea, Darren Fletcher and Jonny Evans have been integral to United’s title charge and have cost the club not a jot in transfer fees. Manchester United’s academy may not be as prolific as it was in the period during the mid 1990s but these are the kind of players that are invaluable to a squad over a season.

Benitez has been at the club long enough to adapt and develop his own method of producing players but Liverpool have not produced a player of note for their first team in years. If Benitez were more inclined to inspect the figures he would also find that the numbers do not stack up in favour of his argument. United do spend big but the Spanish manager has not exactly been frugal in the transfer market during his time at Anfield. 

The turnover of players during his tenure has been staggering and he has consistently failed to identify full backs and wide players of true quality. Benitez has had sufficient time and resources to assemble a squad at Liverpool to challenge for the Premier League title. Liverpool fans may suggest that Rick Parry’s influence over transfer matters has hindered Benitez’s cause but the manager must take some responsibility. 

When it comes down to it finance has not been the ultimate difference between the sides and it is churlish of Benitez to suggest otherwise. Liverpool derserve great credit for the manner in which they chased Manchester United this season but Benitez has shown a distinct lack of grace in defeat.

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  1. LS

    May 18, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Benitez has gotten Liverpool closer to the title and he has won cups for them so he’s clearly not got it all wrong but to claim that it’s all down to money is B.S.

    This article shows the transfer deals of the top 4 in the last 5 years. Liverpool have outspent everyone but Chelsea.–Wengers-Arsenal-boys-club-love-deal-Liverpool-choosy-United-moneybags-Chelsea.html

  2. Afaan

    May 18, 2009 at 2:11 am

    hahahahaha you scousers make me laugh with all the BS you talk.

    your excuse is ….. you went to war and lost the war because your wepons werent as good as ours? lmao thats pathetic.

    our money has been generated through sponsorships and success in competions by WINNING!

    as for were young players are concerned an 18 year old cristiano ronaldo cost us 12.3 million and now look at him the best player in the world.

    vidic and evra something like 7 million for the pair – best left bk in the world and one of the best CB so dnt talk BS.

    but dont be sour ‘you’ll win it next year’ hahahahah


  3. Nic Cooper

    May 18, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Evans, O’Shea and the so called inexpensive squad fillers did well but what United supporters fail to realise is that with the exception of Chelsea, nobody else can afford the kind of match-changing players they buy.

    Ferguson has a centre back who cost more than our entire defensive squad put together; he has a £30 million striker in Berbatov, a £27 million striker in Rooney and the ability to spend £30 million combined on young lads like Anderson and Nani and have a 32 million worth player on the bench. Benitez meanwhile has built a team out of dependable players like Alonso, Agger, Skrtel, Reina, Kuyt and Riera without spending small fortunes on each one. His record signing, Torres, was only £20 million and has been much better value than Berbatov. Mascherano, at £18 million, is better than both Carrick (£15 million plus) and Hargreaves (£18 million plus). I can go on but simply put Benitez has a huge task of derailing 2 billionaire clubs and the so called “rant” worked against Fulham and our 4-1 thrashing of the Mancs did it not. Why accuse Rafa for this and that when Ferguson has been doing a lot more for 20 odd years to put himself on his pedastal. He is every bit a sorry loser. Furthermore it took United 26 years to win the title and it took Ferguson at least 7 or 8 years before he won anything of note. Today it is even harder with the financial inequality and English domination of Europe so whoever said it was easier earlier to win has to wake up. Furthermore United have a total point tally higher than last season I believe after grinding out low scoring results some of which were helped by the poor refs and ex United managers so please Shhh. As for Ferguson’s graceful comment, “The better team lost”, when we thrashed you lot 4-1 and accusing Rafa for supposed sour grapes please. When you lose Tevez next year and Ferguson decides to finally retire from old age it will finally be an end of an era and Liverpool will be back where they belong.

  4. Bishopville Red

    May 17, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    dinho bleated: ” “Benitez has been at the club long enough to adapt and develop his own method of producing players”. So the likes of O’Shea, Fletcher and Jonny Evans were signed and developed in the last 5 years by Ferguson? I would imagine those players were signed before they were even teenagers? If you want to make comparisons then at least compare like for like. ”

    Jonny Evans was brought into the United fold in 2006. Darron Gibson has now been in the United camp for five years. Same for Danny Welbeck and Frazier Campbell. FACT!

    Fergie’s fifth year was the 1990-91 season. By then, he has brought through players such as Lee Martin (scored the goal to win the 1990 FA Cup) Russell Beardsmore, Mark Robbins (who scored to beat Forest in the 1990 cup to keep United going), brought in a young Lee Sharpe, and some kid named Giggs.

    They were called Fergie’s Fledglings. Heard that phrase before?

    And many of those players were chased out of the club because the next wave of youth policy kids were even better.

    If you’re trying to state that five years isn’t enough to establish a youth program, you’re off your rocker. Most managers don’t even get five years, but can find a nugget or two.

    You complain about United spending millions on bench strength, but forget about spending £20 million to return the player in January.

    Rafa has been wasteful and has nobody to blame for Liverpool’s fall from the top of the table but himself.

  5. MM

    May 17, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Liverpool.. 2 words: Robbie Keane
    Don’t make transfers in the middle of the season.

  6. Django

    May 17, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Who is “we”? You’re not talking about United, are you? Because “you” didn’t do anything to Liverpool except get beaten twice…

  7. Tyson

    May 17, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Rafa is a moron and Liverpool are a the biggest joke in English football for what is I believe 19 years in a row now.

    The team is just all hype and nothing. This year Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all had absolutely horrid reasons compared to the previous season and Liverpool still couldn’t grasp the title.

    Rather than take the blame for being a poor manager he is spouting out BS about how the opposing team spends more money when they have in fact spent less.

    Rafa Benitez is a moron buying up players and then selling them back for less money because he developers a personal grudge against them.

    As long as you have a manager who refuses to acknowledge he plays a part in a dreadful season where nothing at all was won you will never have a successful team.

    You just hear the same crap from these people and it’s not every now and then it well and truly is consistent.

    How many times have you heard them complain about something or the other while not winning the PL? Arsenal and Chelsea are both run by competent men who will stand up and admit to their mistakes and go to work at them and thats why I fear them.

    When you admit there is a problem then you can set a path to victory by improving on that problem. When all you do is bitch and whine about why your inferior and constantly come second with that kind of mentality its not even your opponents beating you its your logic.

    We did to Liverpool what we have been doing to them for many a year now and this will only continue till they get a manager who was a brain inside his head and doesn’t think everything and everybody else is to blame.

    Honestly at this rate Liverpool could go another few years without winning a PL title. I mean damn what is it going onto TWENTY YEARS now?! In the modern day game with only a handful of real competitors for the title that is a horrid analysis of a miserable failure of a team and it looks like its not going to change anytime soon.

  8. Liverpoolfan1970

    May 17, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    It is easy to say “Liverpool have not produced a player of note for their first team in years” and then compare that to ManU… But is it a fair comparison? Compare ManU in, say, 1989 to Liverpool of the same time and you might say the same thing… Would it be a fair assessment? Probably not. Has there been lots of turnover at LFC? Certainly. But not without reason. When Rafa came in there was LOTS of dead wood at the club, and the budget was not such that he could pull a Chelsea and simply buy the best. When you are forced to search for diamonds in the rough you will go through lots of garbage and find only a few diamonds.
    As for Benitez being bitter and not congratulating SAF, why should he? Did SAF congratulate us when we beat them in March? Hardly. Did SAF congratulate us in 2007 when we made it to the finals of the Champions League? No, instead SAF said he would be toasting AC Milan. You seem to have a very short memory. Did SAF congratulate King Kenny when he won the title in the 1990 season? How about the 1987/88 title? I want Benitez and the team to be bitter and upset right now. That will fuel their desire next season and bring us number 19.

  9. dinho

    May 17, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    “Benitez has been at the club long enough to adapt and develop his own method of producing players”. So the likes of O’Shea, Fletcher and Jonny Evans were signed and developed in the last 5 years by Ferguson? I would imagine those players were signed before they were even teenagers? If you want to make comparisons then at least compare like for like. Benitez has only been here 5 years so the only players he could bring through are the ones he’s signed himself. When he arrived, signing players players to replace the likes of Salif Diao and Djimi Traore were the priorities not signing players of 11 or 12 years of age with the hope they may turn into squad players in 5 years time. A player Benitez did sign with one eye on the future was Insua who is now a 1st team regular. He’ll develop into exactly the type of squad player you are praising Ferguson for. Difference is Ferguson has been at United over two decades. Not even nearly a fair comparison with Benitez’s 5 years at Anfield.

    The fact remains that United can buy and bench players like Tevez (potentially worth £30m) Berbatov (£31m), Nani (£19m) and spend millions on the likes Da Silva twins, Possebon, Tosic etc. Liverpool can’t compete with that spending without having to sell players first. Hence the high turnover of players. It will be the same this summer which is why there is talk of Alonso being sacrificed so that other players can be bought. United do not have to sell before they can buy so again please compare like with like.

    You say that he has continually failed to identify full-backs and wide players yet you fail to acknowledge that quality wide players (or quality players full stop) cost lots of money. Money that Liverpool doesn’t have. Arbeloa cost £2m, Aurelio was on a free, as was Degen. Dossena cost £6m, part funded by the sale of Riise. I’d be interested to see how well Ferguson would do in the transfer market with only £20m to spend each summer. He certainly wouldn’t have the luxury of rotating the likes Carrick £18m, Hargreaves £17m, Anderson £17m and Nani in his mifield thats for sure.

    • Omar Bajaber

      June 11, 2009 at 9:09 am

      Mr dinhi, it would be a good idea to get your facts right before you make an attempt to refute a well written article. The exact players you mentioned Oshe’a, Fletcher and Evans started making an impact in Manchester United’s first team well before they completed 5 years, particularly Evans, who has come through in less than 3 seasons. No such player exists from Benitez’s “plan”, if he has any.

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