MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, November 23 – Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has taken a swipe at Rafael Benitez’s appointment at Chelsea after questioning the London club’s decision to sack Roberto Di Matteo.
Benitez was installed as Di Matteo’s successor on a short-term contract at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, hours after Chelsea lost 3-0 to Juventus in the Champions League.
There is no love lost between Ferguson and Benitez, who criticised his title rival while in charge of Liverpool in 2009, claiming he was the only manager to avoid punishment from the authorities.
Ferguson was quick to renew his rivalry with Benitez on Friday, springing to the defence of Di Matteo, who masterminded Chelsea’s Champions League triumph in May.
The United manager told a news conference in Manchester: “Everyone feels for Roberto Di Matteo, and quite rightly.
“It’s quite amazing that you win the FA Cup and the Champions League (and lose your job). The biggest disappointment for me is that in two weeks’ time, they go to the Club World Cup.
“You’d think that they would give the guy the chance to win that.
“Rafa Benitez is very lucky because on his CV in two weeks’ time he could have two Club World Championships to his name — and (he had) nothing to do with the teams.
“Jose Mourinho won the treble after going to (Inter) Milan. He (Benitez) took over and won the Club World Cup without having to do anything.
“He had nothing to do with the constrution of the team and that’s where I feel real disappointment for Roberto Di Matteo.
“He could really have on his CV an FA Cup, a Champions League and a Club World Cup. It’s a pity for him.”
United entertain bottom-of-the-table Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, after former United player Mark Hughes was sacked as coach of the London club on Friday.
QPR have yet to win a league game and Ferguson said he had expected them to do better.
Speaking before Hughes’ dismissal had been announced, he said: “I’m surprised his team have only got four points.
“I didn’t think they would be top of the league or anything like that. But by having only four points, that creates so many headlines.”
Striker Wayne Rooney will return after recovering from a bout of tonsilitis as United look to bounce back from two straight defeats.
Having slumped to a surprise 1-0 loss at Norwich City last Saturday, a young United side lost by the same scoreline to Galatasaray in Turkey in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Defender Chris Smalling is also available after a shoulder problem, but Nani (hamstring) and Jonny Evans (groin) are not available.
With leaders Manchester City not playing Chelsea until Sunday, United will return to the top of the table if they defeat QPR, the day after a nine-foot bronze statue of Ferguson was due to be unveiled.
Former United players, including Eric Cantona and Ruud van Nistelrooy, were scheduled to attend a ceremony outside Old Trafford on Friday afternoon.
Ferguson’s first captain, Bryan Robson, was also expected to be there, along with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who scored the famous injury-time match-winner in the 1999 Champions League final.