Rafael Benitez has accused Sir Alex Ferguson of being scared of his Liverpool side and talking "too much" about other teams.
The Anfield chief, despite having the Champions League showdown with Chelsea on Wednesday as his immediate objective, could not resist another swipe at the Manchester United chief as the Barclays Premier League race reaches boiling point.
Ferguson claimed that the loser of the Liverpool-Chelsea quarter-final will prove United's biggest challenger for the title because they will only have one competition to contend with - and Benitez said: "I think Sir Alex will be supporting Liverpool because he knows we are the bigger threat now."
He added: "It is not mind games, I think it maybe is that he is a little bit scared (of us)."
Benitez will have skipper Steven Gerrard fit following a minor groin problem and Sami Hyypia (knee) and Yossi Benayoun (hamstring) available for the first leg with Chelsea.
But the fierce battle with United for the domestic title is clearly Benitez's driving inspiration.
He said: "I do not have a problem with United. Clearly one of us, either Chelsea or us, will end up focusing just on the Premier League after this.
"If we continue in the Champions League maybe he will think we are tired. If we are not in this competition then he knows that we will be a (bigger) threat in the Premier League. If Chelsea are not in the competition, then he knows they will then be a threat also in the league. But he will lose anyway, whoever goes out, because they will still be a big threat to United.
"You have to prepare well for every single Premier League game, it is tough (to be in the Champions League as well). So he will clearly be supporting us tomorrow (Wednesday) and next week.
"I would like to be worried about both competitions, it means we will continue to be successful. We just concentrate on our team, while he likes to talk too much about other teams."
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