The long-simmering dislike that Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafa Benitez have for each other came to the always childish climax of a snubbed handshake before the FA Cup fifth round match between Man United and Chelsea on Sunday. Four years on from Benitez's pre-written "facts" rant against Ferguson and only two days after Ferguson kicked Benitez while he was down by telling the press he wouldn't "kick anyone when they are laying down" when asked about Benitez, this is what it has come to.
Benitez started John Terry, John Obi Mikel and Eden Hazard on the bench and Chelsea went down 2-0 in the first half, but he corrected two of those three mistakes in the second half to spark a comeback as the visitors outplayed Man United and scored the two goals necessary to earn a replay and misguided plaudits for the interim manager. (Benitez also used his last substitution to put Fernando Torres on for Demba Ba in the 77th minute to serve as a reminder as to why that praise is so misguided.) After the final whistle, TV cameras caught a happy Benitez hurrying down the tunnel without shaking hands with Ferguson, prompting reporters to question him on the subject.
From The Mirror:
Chelsea interim boss Benitez said he was waiting to shake Ferguson’s hand by the Old Trafford dug-outs prior to kick-off when the United boss allegedly blanked him.
Benitez was waiting for Ferguson in the tunnel with a photographer nearby looking to take a picture of them.
Ferguson simply ignored the Chelsea interim manager and when the photographer asked the United boss if he would stop to shake Benitez’s hand, he responded with a terse “No”.
And the Spaniard, who has clashed with Ferguson in the past, implied the United boss was uneducated for refusing to observe the pre-match handshake ritual.
Asked if Ferguson walked straight past him, Blues boss Benitez said: “Yes. I was waiting. I was waiting for him. I was waiting at the beginning.
“Ask him. I was waiting, there was nothing wrong.
“You have to ask him [why he didn’t shake hands]. Ask him. You are brave enough, ask him.
“I was waiting, I have some education. I was waiting, I have education because I know a lot of people are watching, so I know what you have to do.”
So Benitez only wanted to shake Ferguson's hand for the sake of appearances and Ferguson didn't want to shake Benitez's hand at all. Just as a reminder, it should be noted that these are both adults.
Man United, meanwhile, have shown a very uncharacteristic inability to deal with second-half adversity twice in the last week. The first instance cost them a place in the Champions League quarterfinals and the second forces them to do extra work against Chelsea. Then again, it does give Ferguson another chance to not shake Benitez's hand, so he could derive some enjoyment from that.