Benitez slams Hodgson in 'priest on a mountain of sugar' tirade
Published 02/11/2010 | 05:00
RAFAEL BENITEZ last night launched a stinging attack on Roy Hodgson as the recent sniping between Liverpool's managers past and present finally turned into outright hostility.
In his most outspoken criticism yet of his predecessor, Hodgson was lambasted by Benitez for claiming last weekend that the Spaniard had banned Kenny Dalglish from Liverpool's training ground. Benitez also hit back at Hodgson's criticism that he had left behind a poor quality squad of players at Liverpool.
Given Benitez's usual reluctance to enter into confrontation, it was a fascinating outburst that demonstrated just how wounded he has been over the criticism of his legacy at Liverpool.
While opinion is deeply divided as to Benitez's responsibility for the state Liverpool now find themselves in, much of what the Inter Milan manager said last night will serve as a rallying call for those Liverpool fans loyal to Benitez and disenchanted with Hodgson.
Benitez's answer was prompted by a single question from an English journalist at the end of an uneventful press conference at White Hart Lane. But it was evident from his response that he had been waiting to have his say on the topic.
Benitez said: "I will be clear. I don't want to talk about Liverpool but I will because they are asking me again. I feel that Mr Hodgson, he doesn't understand. Every single press conference is worse than the last one. He's talking about things he doesn't know. Some people cannot see a priest on a mountain of sugar. He doesn't understand. Maybe he has been in the job for not so long.
"We (the Benitez regime) gave the (Liverpool) fans the pride. Again. We fought for the fans, we fought for the club and we fought for our players. Maybe he cannot understand this. I brought back Kenny Dalglish to do a role in the club. Christian Purslow (the former managing director) gave him another role. So he doesn't know but I will explain to him.
"He (Hodgson) signed nine players. I left that squad with £10m net spending, I left that squad with a value of £300m value and 13 internationals. So instead of talking about flips and flops, he has to concentrate on the job, try to do his best and not talk about the level of his players. Let the new players come in and concentrate, try to do their best, because it will be the best for the clubs and the best for the fans."
Benitez's Spanish colloquialism about the priest on the mountain of sugar -- surely a phrase that will find itself immortalised on a Kop banner sometime soon -- was another way of saying that the truth was staring Hodgson in the face. It derives its meaning from the ease with which the priest's black robes can be spotted against the white of the mountain of sugar.