The Spaniard said that Ferguson and his staff's haranguing of match officials when they leave the bench at half-time was so severe that his side had resorted to "marking" members of the United bench and he advised Luiz Felipe Scolari to do the same when he arrives at Old Trafford tomorrow. "We know what happens every time we go to Old Trafford," Benitez said. "Mr Scolari needs to know so that maybe he can use zonal marking against the staff of United because they are always doing man to man with the referees when they go to the bench and especially at half-time. Other managers need to know this."
Benitez detailed four instances – against Hull City, Southampton last week, his own side last April and Portsmouth in the FA Cup last March – of what he sees as Ferguson's repeated attempts to influence referees, as well as football authorities with his criticism of scheduling.
Fergie's a funny chap. I keep hearing how his Govan roots make him a natural Labour donor, but that strikes me as the one publicly visible streak of sentimentality in an otherwise pretty ruthless and focused operator who's also clever enough to know when he's bitten off more than he can chew. After all, Labour are no longer the party of those grim but golden days, having spent the last fifty years increasing reliance on the state, rewarding irresponsibility and punishing self-reliance - none of which spring to mind as core Fergie values when you see the way he runs his teams. He's IMHO more likely to think that the Lord helps those who help themselves. I don't think a Fergie Prime Ministership would have a great deal of time for benefit culture, to take one example. If he could personally interview all claimants I think we'd see claims dropping by 80% - and the truly deserving 20% would get more.
But he does always seem to need to push the envelope just that little bit more, doesn't he ? I tell you this - I would love it - love it - if Liverpool win the league this season.