Benitez sours mood after Liverpool down West Brom
Benitez’s churlish refusal to credit Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievement overshadowed Liverpool’s regulation victory that doomed West Brom
West Brom 0 Liverpool 2. The title race may have been over, but for Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez the rancor remained, as he refused to congratulate Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson for winning the Premier League after a regulation win over West Brom that saw the bottom side relegated to the Championship.
On the pitch, goals from Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt completed an easy win for Liverpool, who reached a record Premier League points tally of 83 and notched up their 13th away win of the campaign. There was also a bust-up on the pitch in the last ten minutes between Jame Carragher and Alvaro Arbeloa about a perceived defensive slip that displayed the hunger and pride of the Merseysiders.
For West Brom and their manager Tony Mowbray, the game with a remarkable standing ovation from the Hawthorns fans as the achievements of a team that never compromised its commitment to playing attacking football were celebrated even as they dropped off the main stage of English football.
But the real action went on off the pitch, where Benitez chrulishly refused to credit his opposite number at Old Trafford with anything, despite the Scot having recorded Man Utd's 18th league crown. "I have had normally to be polite and to respect the other manager at the end of the season," the Spaniard said. "He has said a lot of things that I didn't like. I say congratulations to Man United because they have won and that's it."
Benitez was more positive about the bust-up between his own players, "Carragher and Arbeloa wanted a clean sheet so they were a little bit nervous. I think it's a positive message in terms of the mentality of the team. We wanted to show character and a winning mentality and to win and stay as close as possible to United."
The stage is already set for a fantastic title race next season.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYINGStuart James, the Guardian: "If West Bromwich Albion's players reacted to defensive mistakes in the same way as Rafael Benitez's team, Tony Mowbray would have spent most of the season trying to keep the peace at The Hawthorns. Jamie Carragher confronted and pushed his team-mate Alvaro Arbeloa in the chest 10 minutes from time and a few of the Albion players must have felt like responding in the same way when Shelton Martis presented Steven Gerrard with Liverpool's opening goal. It was the sort of individual error that has been commonplace at Albion this season."
Henry Winter, Daily Telegraph: "This was a day of twos, of two goals, of two Liverpool players skirmishing, of enough rain to float an ark. As the heavens opened in the second half, the Hawthorns was treated to the extraordinary sight of Jamie Carragher losing patience with Alvaro Arbeloa for his inability to mark, a rather important part of a defender’s repertoire." ·
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