LONDON: He may have been widely accused of having fallen for Alex
Ferguson's 'mind games' while in charge of Liverpool, but Rafael Benitez
believes that the psychological warfare characterising the Premier
League title race will have no bearing on who are crowned champions.
Benitez's infamous 'facts' tirade
at Ferguson in January 2009, when he swept five years of private
discontent at the United manager into the public domain in what became
known as 'Rafa's rant', was put forward by some as one reason why
Liverpool were beaten to the title by their bitter rivals that season.
Having accused Ferguson of acting above the
law and without respect for referees in a carefully-prepared address,
Benitez subsequently watched his team - eight points clear of United at
the time - draw their next three league matches en route to missing out
on the Premier League crown by four points.
But Benitez again dismissed
yesterday the theory that he had cracked under pressure from Ferguson,
insisting that Liverpool lost because United's players ultimately
performed better than his own.
If Manchester City do the same this season, he
added, it will be for similar reasons, with Benitez of the mind that
Roberto Mancini will ignore any bluster from Ferguson and concentrate on
ensuring that his players are properly focused and prepared.
'Everyone is asking me, especially now, about
mind games,' the Spaniard said. 'I don't think it's important, or makes a
big difference. If you have a good team, you can win all the mind
'When I was at Valencia and playing Barcelona
and Real Madrid, I could talk about whatever I wanted because I knew my
team could win. When I was at Extremadura, we were struggling and I
could not say everything I wanted to.
'Both United and City are very good teams. If
City win, 50 people say it doesn't affect the mind games with Mancini.
If they lose, 50 say it is mind games.
'People are talking saying, 'Oh, the manager
said this, the manager said that' but 50, 80 per cent of the players
don't read the press, especially the foreign players.'
Meanwhile, the 51-year-old, who has been out
of work since he was sacked by Inter Milan 14 months ago, admitted that
he was looking to get back into management.
While saying he was 'not desperate', he stressed: 'I am looking for a new job.'