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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices