Rafael Benitez is quickly grabbing himself a spot as the most graceless manager in British football, a hotly competed for title that regularly features the big guns of Premier League moaning – Arsene Wenger, Alex Ferguson and Sam Allardyce – and which is building up to a dramatic crescendo as the season enters its final stages.
Yesterday we had the crunch meeting between Rafa and Big Sam, and it was the Spaniard who wiped the floor with his Blackburn Rovers counterpart, making childish snippy comment about the style of play from a club that has at most a tenth of the revenue of his own, trying to fight off relegation and away from home. No, they should be trying to play like Barcelona Rafa, you have a valid point.
‘I think it is a model for all the managers around the world, their style of football, his behaviour,’ he said of Blackburn’s style of play during the almost irrelevant 2-1 win for the Reds at Anfield. ‘The style of football, I think, Barcelona are thinking of copying (because of course, Liverpool play free-flowing samba football, don’t they?).
‘We try to do our talking on the pitch (except when you’re complaining in the press about other team’s style of play, you massive hypocrite). If they are pleased with the way they play under this manager it is their decision. They have a style and they are a team that plays this way under this manager. Some people have to talk before the press conference or after because it is more difficult for them to do a football job.’