Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has wasted no time in hitting out at old foe and new interim Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez. The former Liverpool boss replaced Roberto Di Matteo who was sacked on Wednesday after eight months in charge. Benitez won the cup with Inter soon after taking over and could do so again with Chelsea next month. The Manchester United manager had a fractious relationship with Benitez during the Spaniard’s time at Liverpool. They fell out over Ferguson’s refusal to sell Gabriel Heinze to the Anfield outfit, and even more spectacularly in 2009, when the Scot suggested Liverpool would be affected by nerves during the Premier League title run-in. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says Rafael Benitez is “very lucky” to be named Chelsea boss ahead of the Club World Cup. Benitez’s astonishing response was to deliver a series of “facts”, backing up his belief that Ferguson benefited from more favourable treatment from the Football Association in his dealings with match officials.
As it turned out, United did win the title and within 12 months, Benitez had gone. He soon succeeded Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan but Benitez did not last long there either, even though he won the Italian Super Cup and the Club World Cup in his short San Siro stint. Not that Ferguson evidently holds much store by those achievements. Ferguson said: “On his CV he could have two world championships and nothing to do with the construction of the teams.” The Club World Cup is contested between champion clubs from all six of the world’s continental confederations. Ferguson added: “Rafael Benitez is very lucky. Jose Mourinho won the treble at Inter; Rafa took over and they won the world title without having to do anything. It is strange how it happens and sometimes you wonder if it encourages chairmen at football clubs to make changes because they think ‘if we get a new manager we’ll win the next two or three games. There is a mutual dislike between the two men which will make the next few months fascinating, even if United are not due to meet Chelsea again until the beginning of May.” “Everyone feels for Roberto Di Matteo,” said Ferguson. “The biggest disappointment for me is in two weeks’ time they are going to play in the Club World Cup. You would have thought they would have waited two weeks to give the guy a chance to win a world title. That’s why I really feel disappointment for Roberto.”
Benitez, 52, who was involved in several disputes with Ferguson during his spell at Anfield from 2004-2010, won the Italian Super Cup and Club World Cup during a six-month reign at Inter but was sacked in December 2010 and has not been in a managerial post since.
Manchester United & Manchester City news:
Joe Hart is still eager to improve despite being hailed as the best goalkeeper in the world by England colleague Wayne Rooney and Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini. After the game, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney described Hart as the best goalkeeper in the world. Joe Hart believes Wayne Rooney is next in line to captain England. “It’s a special honour for some special people to say some nice things, but we move on. In goal, you can be the worst in the world two days later.” said Hart. Goalkeeper Hart has been mentioned as a possible stand-in but Rooney, who has captained the side once before, is keen to take on a more senior role in Roy Hodgson’s group.
But the 25-year-old, speaking ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier with San Marino at Wembley, admits he is determined to scale even greater heights. Hart said: “It’s nice people say nice things but things are easily said. You’ve got to remain level-headed. If you don’t, it’s a big slap when you do something wrong. Then people are going to say bad things about you but that’s football. You can’t go too far one way or the other or you leave yourself vulnerable.” Goalkeeper Hart has been mentioned as a possible stand-in but Rooney, who has captained the side once before, is keen to take on a more senior role in Roy Hodgson’s group. He added: “I’ve not thought about it at all. How the captain is chosen is the manager’s decision. I’ve got a big responsibility to keep my place in the team for club and country. If I do get the nod, I’ll try and give as much as I can in terms of helping the team. But I think it’s between Wayne Rooney and Wayne Rooney if we are going to go on experience and how captains have been chosen in the past.” And the City No 1 knows even a side as lowly-ranked as San Marino are capable of causing a keeper embarrassment. Hart admits concentration is paramount as the solidity of the City and England defences means he has long spells when not called into action. He said.”It’s just not often that I get much opportunity to make many saves because City are so solid at the back,Concentration is always key. International football is not often ‘you have a go and then we’ll have a go’. It’s a chess game. I imagine, like most teams when they come to Wembley, San Marino are going to try and get people behind the ball.”
Hart admitted: “I’m still trying to improve. I hate to say it but I am getting a bit older now so I have to get in a bit earlier and prepare my body a bit differently. I just know every day I want to be the guy you can rely on. I want to be the best. I want to work hard on saving every shot. Pretty simple really. I’ve got no silly targets like I need to win this and I need to do that. I need to keep working hard, keep my love and passion for the game and hopefully good things will come.”
El Clasico La Liga News : A brace each for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo ensured that the first league Clasico of the season ended in a 2-2 draw. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were both in scintillating form as Barcelona and Real Madrid played out at Camp Nou in the first Liga Clasico of this season. There was nothing to separate the Ballon d’Or hopefuls as after giving the visitors the lead, the Portuguese earned his side a point following a brace from the Argentine superstar. FC Barcelona walked away from the first La Liga Clasico of the season with a point on Sunday night as Lionel Messi’s brace was cancelled out by two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo. The first proper chance of the match fell to Karim Benzema in the 13th minute, but thankfully he totally miss hit a Cristiano Ronaldo cross. Real Madrid took the lead on 23 minutes, exploiting the Blaugrana’s makeshift backline to find Ronaldo open on the left-hand side of the penalty area, and the Portuguese forward did exceptionally well to score at Victor Valdés’ near post.
Yet the Blaugrana were unperturbed at the other end of the pitch and they secured an equaliser when Pedro’s cross looped into the air following a pair of deflections. In his eagerness to head the ball away, Pepe misjudged the flight of the ball and Messi, who was lurking in the box, beat Iker Casillas as it dropped behind the defender and fired into the back of the net. You won’t see a more precise freekick than the one Messi bent perfectly into the corner to make it 2-1 in the 62nd minute. Leo was tackled hard from behind from Alonso, who must have been worried about a second yellow, but the Argentine made them pay the ultimate price with a stunning freekick, which is a skill he has really worked on the last year and it’s paying massive dividends. However, Barcelona only held the lead for five minutes as Ronaldo equalised on the 66th minute after beating the offside trap. Despite injuring his shoulder on a high bicycle kick attempt, Ronaldo made it 2-2 only 4 minutes after Barça took the lead. Barcelona did have chances to win the game, as Martin Montoya’s long-range effort rebounded off the cross-bar, but on reflection, a draw was probably the fairest result. Tito Vilanova’s 100% league record may have come to an end, but Barca remain unbeaten and eight points ahead of Los Blancos headed into the international break.
Mourinho said after the game that you can’t choose between them and that “I think it should be forbidden to say who the best player in the world because these two are from another planet.” The press would seem to agree. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi match each other in El Clásico with two goals each. Each team now has a draw, a win and a loss each from encounters this season.