I was surprised, but I have to talk about facts because I think it is important.
I think that they are nervous because we are at the top of the table. But I want to be clear that I do not want to play mind games too early. I think that they want to start that so I have taken some facts so it will be easier to talk about this.
November 1 they played against Hull City and Mr Ferguson, their manager, was given a two-match touchline ban and fined £10,000 after confronting Mike Dean, the referee, for improper conduct.
We have started a Respect Campaign. And we started with the sending off of Javier Mascherano at Old Trafford from the referee, Mr Bennett. But that was also the referee when Manchester United played Wigan, and he couldn't see the handball from Rio Ferdinand. He didn't give a penalty and they won the title.
I think that will also be the same referee that they have in the game in hand against Wigan.
During this Respect Campaign, he was charged by the FA following comments made towards Martin Atkinson, but he was not punished. He is the only manager in the league who cannot be punished.
Two years ago we were playing a lot of early kick-offs on a Saturday morning away, while United were playing on a Sunday and no one was saying anything. Now he is complaining that everybody is against United.
They will play against all the teams in the top of the table in the second half of the season - I think that is a fantastic advantage. But I don't know why, at Christmas time, United played on the 29th December instead of the 28th, while we played against Newcastle away. He was not complaining this time. He was not thinking about this.
About his behaviour with referees, the Southampton manager knows how Mr Ferguson works. He was very clear the other day. It is a fact. I am not playing mind games. This is about facts.
If Mr Ferguson wants to talk about the fixtures, and we want to be on a level playing field here, there are two options: one is where is the same as in Spain. The first part of the league, all the teams know at this time they will play against this team on this weekend, or that weekend, and the second half of the league will be the opposite - you will play away. After that, Sky or Setanta who has the rights will choose the game and everybody will know when they are playing. That way it would be the same for everyone so Mr Ferguson will not be complaining about the fixtures.
Or maybe the other option would be Mr Ferguson organising the fixtures and everything in his office and sending them to us - then everybody will know and nobody can complain.
Talking about football, because I want to finish with this and the mind games. We know what happens when we go to Old Trafford. Mr Scolari maybe needs to know to use zonal marking against the staff of United because they are always using man to man with the referees when they go to the bench and especially at half-time when they are walking close to the referees and talking and talking and talking.
All the managers need to know, only Mr Ferguson can talk about the fixtures and the referees - nothing will happen. I think we need to know about this. We are talking about facts, we are not talking about my impression. Everybody can see this every single week.
The fact that he has said these things, is this a sign of the pressure getting to United?
I think that they did not think that we would be at the top of the table in January. But we are at the top of the table, and clearly they are nervous.
Do referees need to take a firmer stance with United?
I will not say that. I want to be very clear - I have been here for five years and I just know how long these things have been going on?
Will you be watching the game on Sunday?
I think so.
What are your thoughts on that game?
It doesn't matter. I am just trying to think about Stoke and trying to win tomorrow.
Would any particular result suit you?
As long as we win against Stoke, it doesn't matter.
Браво, Рафа! Отличное интервью, причём всё верно и всё по делу. Абсолютно.