Sunday, February 28, 2010

Benitez rants back at Big Sam

The war of words between Rafa Benitez and Sam Allardyce was rekindled in the aftermath of a bad tempered match at Anfield yesterday.

After goals from Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres handed Liverpool FC a 2-1 win over Blackburn to stay in the hunt for the fourth Champions League place, Allardyce and Benitez turned their attentions to each other as their simmering feud continued.

The pair have been at loggerheads ever since the Spaniard suffered his first league defeat as Liverpool manager in a bruising encounter to Allardyce’s Bolton five seasons ago.

Benitez was critical of Bolton’s physical approach and believes it is a characteristic typical of Allardyce’s teams.

That prompted Allardyce to point to Liverpool’s six yellow cards at Manchester City last week, suggesting it was ‘ironic’ given Benitez’s previous criticism of his teams’ style of play.

Blackburn picked up five bookings at Anfield yesterday after which Benitez poked fun at Allardyce whilst questioning his tactical acumen.

“I think he is a model for all the managers all around the world,” joked Benitez.

“His style of football, his behaviour, everything.

“He is the perfect role model for all the kids. I am sure parents will enjoy this model and encourage their kids to be the same.

“I also think Barcelona are trying to copy his style of football.”

The Liverpool manager’s comments are likely to attract criticism similar to last season when he was described as being disrespectful to Allardyce for a gesture he made in the Reds’ 4-0 win over Blackburn at Anfield.

However, with Allardyce saying yesterday that he has every right to respond to comments made about his teams, Benitez will say likewise.

Asked if the win was the perfect response to Allardyce’s pre-match comments, Benitez said.

“We always want to win and this game was really important because we are in the race for fourth.

“But we prefer to talk on the pitch.

“It doesn’t matter (what Allardyce says), we won.

“Of course, it is important how you play but sometimes you just have to win. We prefer to play football if we can.

“But if they (Blackburn) are pleased at how they play under this manager that is their decision.

“We prefer to win trying to play well.

“We can win on the pitch and enjoy, whereas some people have to talk before the game and after. Maybe it is more difficult for them to do a football job.”

Benitez was clearly unhappy with some of the treatment dished out to his players by Blackburn.

Torres received close attention, while Rovers midfielder Steven Nzonzi was lucky to stay on the pitch after raising his hand to shove Lucas over.

Meanwhile, Pascal Chimbonda appeared to aim his foot into Maxi Rodriguez’s stomach but escaped without being spoken to by referee Alan Wiley.

“They have a style and play in a certain way under this manager. That is their decision,” said Benitez. “The Nzonzi incident was very, very clear. He had his hand in the face of Lucas Leiva. The rules are the rules.

“Then Chimbonda on Maxi has to be a yellow card.

“We have four or five players with problems, bleeding or whatever. Maxi had studs in his abdominal area, which was interesting.”

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