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Oct 13, 2011

Benitez: Fergie success down to money

Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has played down Sir Alex Ferguson's role in the success of Manchester United, insisting that money has been the decisive factor in the club's triumphs and not the Scot's management skills.

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Benitez and Ferguson were Premier League rivals for six seasons, with the pair's relationship in that time somewhat tempestuous.

And ahead of this weekend's clash between United and Liverpool, Benitez has opened up old wounds by questioning Ferguson's influence on the Red Devils' success in an interview with BBC Radio Merseyside.

After it was put to him that Ferguson's personality has been critical in driving United forward, Benitez responded: "No, I think it's the money they were spending. If you analyse the transfer record and the history ... Rooney, or Ferdinand, for example ... £30 million for a young player or a centre back.

"Every year they [United] are very well-off. It's not just because of the interviews or the press conferences; it's because they had money."

Benitez and Ferguson's troubled relationship came to a head during the 2008-09 season, when Liverpool ran United close before the Red Devils pipped them to the Premier League title.

During that campaign, Benitez delivered a pre-prepared critique of his opposite number, listing a series of "facts" that suggested Ferguson influenced both the Premier Leage fixture list and choice of match officials.

But Benitez has once again dismissed the notion that the infamous "facts" press conference was responsible for Liverpool's failure to beat United in the title race.

"To be fair, I didn't like it when the press was talking about mind games because I was just focused on my team, and the things I had to do for the team," Benitez said.

"If you say something in a press conference I can guarantee you that it has no impact on another manager. It can happen perhaps one in one hundred times, but the press likes to talk about mind games, but what they don't realize is that you cannot win mind games if you have a bad team.

"You can be the best in the press conference, but after, if you have a bad team you will lose. It's easy to talk about mind games when he [Ferguson] has a good team and he has won, and that was the case."

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