Manchester - Alex Ferguson wasted little time in
reigniting his fractious relationship with Rafa Benitez, welcoming the
former Liverpool manager back to the Premier League on Friday with a dig
at his old rival.
Nearly two years after being fired by Inter
Milan, Benitez took over as interim Chelsea coach on Wednesday following
the European champions' abrupt dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo.
Spaniard's first chance of a trophy will come at next month's Club
World Cup, which Benitez won at Inter days before a six-month stint with
the Italian club was ended.
"Benitez has been trying to get a
job for a long time and he is very lucky because on his CV in two weeks'
time he could have two world club titles to his name - and had nothing
to do with the teams," said Ferguson, who has been in charge of
Manchester United for 26 years.
The pair often clashed during
Benitez's time at Liverpool from 2004-10, with their most spectacular
conflict coming in 2009 when Ferguson suggested Liverpool would be
affected by nerves late in the Premier League title chase.
retorted by reading out a hand-written list of "facts" to back up his
claim that Ferguson wasn't punished enough for verbally using referees
and match officials.
Benitez came out of his stint at Liverpool
with a reputation as one of the best managers in Europe, winning the
Champions League in 2005 and reaching the final in '07. He had
previously broken the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain by
winning the domestic title twice in three years with Valencia, as well
as capturing the UEFA Cup.
At Inter, though, Benitez's standing took a hit.
Mourinho won the treble at Inter. Rafa took over and they won the world
title without having to do anything," Ferguson said. "He had nothing to
do with the construction of the team."
Despite his ongoing feud
with Benitez, Ferguson said he hopes the Spaniard enjoys a good start to
his reign at Chelsea - because the team's first game is Sunday against
Manchester City, the Premier League leader and arguably United's biggest
title rival again this season.
"I hope he is lucky on Sunday,
too," Ferguson said. "It happens time and time again when a new manager
comes in that a team win their first few games.
"It is strange
how it happens and sometimes you wonder if it encourages chairmen at
football clubs to make changes because they think, 'If we get a new
manager we'll win the next two or three games.'"