Benitez claims Ferguson is ''scared'' of Liverpool
Rafael Benitez has accused Sir Alex Ferguson of being scared of his Liverpool side and talking ''too much'' about other teams.
The Anfield chief, despite having the Champions League showdown with Chelsea as his immediate objective, could not resist another swipe at the Manchester United chief as the Premier League race reaches boiling point.
Benitez was responding to claims from Ferguson that the loser of the Liverpool-Chelsea quarter-final will then be United's biggest challenger for the title because they will only have one competition to contend with.
But the fierce battle with United for the domestic title is clearly Benitez's driving inspiration and he has now added to his previous rant against the current Champions, which momentarily derailed their title push before the draw with Stoke in January.
He said of Ferguson's claims: ''It is not mind games, I think it maybe is that he is a little bit scared (of us).''
Liverpool took over at the top of the table on Saturday evening with a late winner by Benayoun at Fulham. But less than 24 hours later, United produced a stunning comeback victory over Aston Villa with the decisive goal coming in the fourth minute of injury-time from 17-year-old Federico Macheda.
That grabbed the initiative back for the Old Trafford club, but Benitez has come out fighting.
He said: ''I do not have a problem with United. Clearly one of us, either Chelsea or us, will end up focusing just on the Premier League after this.
''I think Sir Alex will be supporting Liverpool in this tie because he knows we are the bigger threat now.
''If we continue in the Champions League maybe he will think we are tired. If we are not in this competition then he knows that we will be a (bigger) threat in the Premier League.
''If Chelsea are not in the competition, then he knows they will then be a threat also in the league. But he will lose anyway, whoever goes out, because they will still be a big threat to United.
''You have to prepare well for every single Premier League game, it is tough (to be in the Champions League as well). So he will clearly be supporting us tomorrow and next week.
''I would like to be worried about both competitions, it means we will continue to be successful.
''We just concentrate on our team, while he likes to talk too much about other teams.''
Benitez claims he was unmoved by United's late heroics against Villa, saying: ''We knew there would be situations like this, with us one point ahead, or one point behind. And everyone knows five minutes (of injury time) at Old Trafford is a very long time.
''I watched the game, but once United scored their second you felt they would win the game.
''He (Ferguson) is in the driving seat now and in a better position, but there is still a long way to go and we have confidence. We are pushing them and we will push them until the end.''