.....and gained support from fans from every other club in the land. It's a pretty funny rant. It has sparked a huge debate in the UK:

Rafa Fires Fury at Ferguson

Rafa Benitez has launched an extraordinary attack on Sir Alex Ferguson, claiming the Scot is the only manager who thinks he is above the law.

Benitez was speaking ahead of a huge weekend at the top of The Premier League, which could see Liverpool go six points clear with victory at Stoke - live on Setanta.

Click here for details of how to get Setanta Sports on Satellite, Freeview or Broadband for live coverage of Stoke v Liverpool from 5pm Saturday.

The Liverpool boss gave a staggering reaction to Ferguson's claims that Manchester United have been the target of a tough fixture list, before going on to slam the conduct of United's staff when influencing referees.

"I think they are nervous because we are at the top of the table," began the simmering Spaniard.

"I want to be clear. I don't want to play mind games too early. I think they want to start. I will say some facts so it's easy to talk about this...

"On November 1, Manchester United played against Hull and Mr Ferguson received a two-match touchline ban and was fined 2,000 after the game for confronting Mike Dean and for improper conduct.

"We then started the Respect campaign and started with Mascherano's sending off at Old Trafford. Steve Bennett was the referee then, and he was also the ref when they played against Wigan and he could not see the handball from Rio Ferdinand. He didn't give a penalty and they won the game and won the title.

"I think the same referee, Mr Bennett, will be in charge for the game in hand against Wigan. During the Respect campaign, Mr Ferguson was in fact charged for improper conduct for comments made against Martin Atkinson and was not punished.

"He is the only manager in the English league that cannot be punished for these things."

Benitez, armed with a notepad full of points, then turned to Ferguson's moans about the fixture list, which has seen United play away from home after every Champions League game this season - as well as playing the 'top four' all away from home.

"The second half of the season, they're playing at home against all the other teams at the top of the league and I think this is a fantastic advantage," continued Benitez.

"At Christmas time, United played on the 29th instead of the 28th, I don't know why. The rest of the teams didn't and we played away at Newcastle 42-44 hours after Bolton at home. He was not complaining this day or thinking about this.

"His behaviour with referees, the Southampton manager, he knows how Mr Ferguson works. He was very clear the other day. It's a fact and I'm not playing mind games, I am talking about facts.

"If he wants to talk about fixtures and how we can all be in the same position on a level playing field in England, there are two options.

"If you don't want more problems, do the same as in Spain. They draw the first part of the league so all the teams know who they play against and, in the second half of the league, it's the opposite. Everyone knows. After Sky and Setanta have the right to choose their games on Saturday and Sunday, they will choose them and it'll be the same for everyone.

"Mr Ferguson won't be complaining about fixtures so maybe the other option is for Mr Ferguson to be organising the fixtures in his office and sending it to us so everyone knows and nobody will complain...

"So talking about football as I want to finish with this and the mind games. We know what happens every time we go to Old Trafford and Mr Scolari needs to know to use zonal marking against the staff of United.

"They are always doing man-to-man with referees, when they go near the bench and especially at half time when they walk close to the referees and are talking.

"So all the managers need to know only Mr Ferguson can talk about fixtures and referees, all these things, nothing happens. You need to know I am talking about facts and not mind games or pressure. These are things people can see every single week. We have seen players sent off at Old Trafford and we do not see our opponents sent off.

"It is part of the game. But to complain and to always have an advantage is not fair.

"We had a meeting in Manchester with managers and FA about the Respect campaign. And I was very clear, forget the campaign because Mr Ferguson was killing the referees, killing Mr Atkinson, killing Mr Hackett.

"But he is not punished. How can you talk about the respect campaign and criticise the referee every single week? You can analyse the facts and come to your own decision and ideas."

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