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RAFAEL BENITEZ kept up his campaign against Manchester United by claiming they have an "unusual" influence at the FA.

The Liverpool boss did not hold back at the weekend as he turned the heat up even further on his title rivals by questioning the role Old Trafford chief executive David Gill plays at the Football Association.

Benitez made clear his frustration and anger that Gill holds a senior position within English football's ruling body, which he believes is a conflict of interest with his role at United, and he described the situation as "very strange". And in yet another controversial outburst aimed at the champions, the Anfield manager said: "They were saying we are not a threat.

Now they know we are, they are starting mind games.

"But I don't think it's a mind game when you have control over everything; it's a mind game when you have the same level as the other people, then you can show you are cleverer than the others.

"But when you have control of everything and your chief executive is powerful in the FA and things like this, then that is not mind games.

"Is there a conflict of interest with David Gill at the FA?

"That is another fact. It is a fact that one person has a lot of power and control, and is on a lot of the committees in the FA. To me that is very strange."

Gill is one of the most influential voices at the FA, holding a position on the management board of the game's governing body, and is widely tipped to become their next chief executive.

Benitez's remarks are sure to cause uproar because his implications are clear - United get favourable treatment because a senior figure at their club is on the inside at the FA.

That could bring him charges from the governing body, but the disciplinary committee are already set to investigate his remarks made on Friday.

Yet Benitez was in bullish mood, adding: "A lot of people think the same as me.

"I need to change my mobile phone because it is blocked with so many messages of support, and I am not surprised by that."


ON THE ATTACK Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez; TARGETED Fergie was the subject of Benitez's rant; FA ROLE United chief executive David Gill
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 12, 2009
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