Sam Allardyce has just taken the Sunderland job, while Rafa Benitez is the manager of Real Madrid, but for some reason – the Englishman thinks of Rafa as a rival.
The pair never got on well when Benitez managed Liverpool, with our former Spanish boss often castigating Allardyce’s agricultural style of football.
But Allardyce’s comments here seem a little over the top and largely misinformed – especially considering Benitez has the winning record of the pair during his stay in England.
“Of course he [Benitez] can say he won the Champions League with Liverpool, which is something I never did. But it was nowt to do with him,” Allardyce wrote in his book, serialised in the Telegraph.
“Steven Gerrard took that final by the scruff of the neck and dragged Liverpool back from 3-0 down against AC Milan to eventually win on penalties.
“I don’t blame Benitez for claiming credit – but as managers we know the truth. It’s like when you make a substitution in desperation and it comes off. You get all the credit for your tactical brilliance when it’s often just luck.”
“He didn’t like me and he thought he was superior,” he wrote.
“Here was a trendy foreign manager with all his smart ideas getting beat by some oik from the Midlands.
“I put his comments on the wall of the changing room [at Bolton] but Ivan Campo and Jay-Jay Okocha said, ‘We don’t need those, gaffer, we’ll beat him anyway.’
“Benitez wouldn’t talk to me at all and that just made it all the better when we won. I can’t stand people who disrespect me the way he did.”
Benitez made a few enemies during his time on English shores, in fairness. His sour relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson is infamous, but that only happened because the former United supremo saw him as a genuine threat and rival – just as he once did with Arsene Wenger at the start of the century.
Steven Gerrard recently stated in his book that he doesn’t consider Benitez a friend (via Daily Mail) – but to us that is largely irrelevant considering how well the manager got our greatest ever midfielder playing during his tenure at the helm.