Rafa Benitez is not a fan of Sam Allardyce's style of football, here he is speaking a couple of years ago, ridiculing the now West Ham boss. -
"I think it is a model for all the managers around the world, their style of football, his behaviour,"
"It is the perfect model for all the kids and I'm sure all parents will enjoy this model and encourage their kids to be the same. The style of football, I think, Barcelona are thinking of copying."
Ouch. You can see why Allardyce will be desperate to pile the pressure on the new Chelsea boss tomorrow, still searching for his first win.
But that isn't all. Their feud goes back further than that, when Benitez was accused of making a dismissive 'game over' gesture when his Liverpool side went 2-0 up against Blackburn in the first half of their fixture at Anfield. (Naturally it was Fernando Torres who scored the goals).
Allardyce complained post-match: "The unfortunate gestures from Rafa Benitez after the second goal. I wanted to clarify his gestures. I think you'll see them as pretty dismissive to me and to Blackburn Rovers' team as a whole.
"I think they are disrespectful and quite humiliating.
"I waited to have a word with Rafa Benitez in his room after the game but as usual, and unfortunately, he didn't turn up.
"What I expect is a little more respect from a fellow manager."
Big Sam found a welcome ally in Sir Alex Ferguson, who was all too gleeful given the opportunity to sink the boot into Benitez; this was shortly after the former Liverpool boss' infamous 'Fact' rant against the Scot.
Ferguson went to town: "The game is hard enough as it is without a fellow manager trying to do, what seemed to be, an undermining gesture."
"You cannot forgive contempt, which is what he showed Sam Allardyce last weekend. When Liverpool scored their second goal he signalled as if the game was finished. I do not think Sam deserved that. Sam has worked so hard for the LMA [League Managers Association] and he's had a weakened team. I just thought it showed contempt.
"In my experience no Liverpool manager has ever done that. It was beyond the pale."
But was there another explanation?
Steve Gerrard claimed so, sticking up for his manager. He said: "We had the set-pieces up on the board before the game and he had told Xabi to do a certain free kick. He did the opposite but we scored from it, so he was basically saying, ‘Don’t listen to me, do your own thing."
Hmmm... Have a look for yourselves below and let us know what you think.
Neither manager will want to lose tomorrow, and even if the game is another dull 0-0, the prospects of fireworks off the pitch makes the encounter a simply 'must-watch' affair.
image: © choonming