Roman Abramovich empire is a match for Ferguson, says Rafael Benitez

Blues manager takes dig at Old Trafford counterpart before Monday's FA Cup replay

Rafa Benitez has taken another swipe at Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of Monday's lunchtime showdown in the FA Cup, claiming Chelsea's endless managerial upheaval under Roman Abramovich has still proved as successful as the Scot's time in charge at Old Trafford for the same period.

Benitez, the interim manager, is the ninth man to take charge at Stamford Bridge during Abramovich's reign as owner. In that time they have won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and the Champions League. United have won four titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups and the Champions League.

"You can talk about strategies and philosophies but Chelsea have won as many trophies changing managers as United have won with the same manager," he said, "You are talking about two top sides with good players. We just have to try to be more consistent to the end of the season.

"It's a good question (is Ferguson the most powerful man in English football?) but I will not give you the answer. I just concentrate on doing my best on Monday and trying to win."

Benitez and Ferguson's fractious relationship hit a new low after the first FA Cup quarter-final tie at Old Trafford last month, when the Chelsea boss accused the Scot of snubbing a handshake before kick-off. Ferguson branded the claim as "absolute nonsense" but Benitez has hit back by declaring he will offer a handshake to the Manchester United manager at the Monday match.

Benitez was so angered by Ferguson's apparent snub at the first game, which ended in a 2-2 draw (the Manchester United manager had also not made reference to Benitez in his programme notes) that he made an issue of it. The two men have a fractious relationship, dating back to the Spaniard's time in charge at Liverpool.

"Why wouldn't I shake hands?" said Ferguson. "Have you ever seen me not shake hands with anyone? I never saw him, I was signing autographs. If he wanted to shake my hand, he could have stood in front of me."

The two men will come face to face for the first time since that incident at Stamford Bridge today, with a place in the semi-final of the FA Cup against Manchester City at Wembley the prize for the winner.

"I won't waste too much time with that," said Benitez. "You have the responsibility, a lot of people are watching you so I will shake hands with him and that's it. The other one is very simple, watch the DVD of the first match, not the repetition of what happened after, and it's very clear.

"I have to concentrate on my job. The biggest challenge is to be consistent and to win games. If we play at the level of some of the games we played two weeks ago we can beat anyone."

Chelsea go into today's game on the back of a defeat at Southampton, a loss which came after Benitez rested seven players at St Mary's. However he denied he was prioritising the replay.

"Chelsea has a lot of good players but to play two games a week for four months, it's not easy to keep the team at the same level all the time," he said. "You have a team in transition, a new manager, new players.

"United have the same manager for years and 80 per cent of the squad is the same. Chelsea are changing because they have brought in some good players but they still need to settle down and they have to be consistent. That is the one thing that you will have when you know the league, the referees and the rivals and your team-mates. So it is a question of time.

"We are stronger than a lot of teams. You can see this in the last weeks, we played very good games and we won some of them. Still we can play very good football and compete against anyone. United are at the top of the table but we were much better than them in the first game.

"So I think we can compete. The question is when you play two games in three days, it has been the same for four months maybe, it's not easy. I think we are doing well for the situation that we have."

Ferguson is likely to recall Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand for the 12.30 kick-off at Stamford Bridge. Both players were rested in United's 1-0 win at Sunderland on Saturday.

"That's the reason they are top of the table, because they have a very strong squad," added Benitez. "Just analyse the four strikers they have and we only have two. So they have four and all of them are at a very good level, and we have two at a good level too.

"It was a problem when we had just Fernando Torres but with Demba Ba we have two options, although he cannot play in the Europa League. We have offensive players with enough quality to create, but in some positions to find the balance and play so many games it's not easy. It will be a boost for everyone (if Chelsea win). I still think we can manage if everything is going well."

Old pals: United and Chelsea FA Cup meetings

* 14 May 1994: Final

Man United 4 (Cantona 2 [2 pens], Hughes, McClair) Chelsea 0

Sir Alex Ferguson's side scored three times in 10 second-half minutes, before Brian McClair's injury-time fourth.

* 4 January 1998: Third round

Chelsea 3 (Le Saux 2, Vialli) Man United 5 (Beckham 2, Cole 2, Sheringham)

Teddy Sheringham put United 5-0 up with 15 minutes remaining, before Graeme Le Saux and Gianluca Vialli at least restored the holders' pride.

* 19 May 2007: Final

Chelsea 1 (Drogba) Man United 0 (aet)

United forced extra time in a dour game at the new Wembley before Didier Drogba prevented penalties with just four minutes remaining.

News
news
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
News
i100
Life and Style
Carmen Khu from The Royal China Club pours a cup of Dai-Hong-Po tea
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
film
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore