Fergie hits back at Rafa

United boss unhappy with Liverpool counterpart

Sir Alex Ferguson has criticised Rafa Benitez for trying to influence referee Steve Bennett ahead of Manchester United's clash with Liverpool.

Benitez has called Ferguson 'clever' for repeatedly complaining about the lack of protection given to Cristiano Ronaldo by officials.

Ferguson is not happy with the Liverpool boss and believes his comments are only for the benefit of Bennett.

"Rafa is trying to get the referee on his side. He must think we are bloody stupid," Ferguson told the Mail on Sunday.

Ferguson is nevertheless looking forward to the game at Old Trafford as Manchester United look to build on their lead at the top of the table.

Massive game

He said: "We have got a big game, a massive game - I enjoy the madness of it. I love the Liverpool games and the players do.

"They'll be anticipating a really difficult game, but they are the games you want to be playing in."

Fernando Torres has been in superb form for Liverpool in recent weeks, taking his tally for the season to 27 goals, and Ferguson is wary of the threat he presents.

"For a first season in the premier division, he has to be very pleased with that. I'm sure Rafa's delighted with that return.

"I don't think he came here with any great doubts - he had a good record in Spain and is a Spanish international."