Jose Mourinho is one manager who doesn’t care if you enjoy the way his team plays, as long as he gets the maximum three points, the Portuguese is just alright. It is just business with Mourinho and nothing else, so it wasn’t surprising when one of his arch-rivals Rafa Benitez revealed two occasions when he had noticed the Chelsea boss’s attitude.
Benitez explained that on New Year’s Day in 2005, he met Jose on the stairs while on their way to the Anfield director’s box. A lot had happened, Liverpool had not only lost to the Blues, Frank Lampard had also broken Xabi Alonso’s ankle. So, naturally you’d expect a tensed atmosphere between the managers but to the surprise of many, they actually greeted themselves warmly. They discussed their debut seasons in the Premier League and had a chat about their various transfer targets. Although it would be too generous to tag them as friends, you can’t take from them the fact that they were peers who were fairly matched.
Before we analyze the second meeting, it will be important to note that not only Benitez has noted this traits in Mourinho, one man who used to be his boss but now a colleague, Louis van Gaal recently reiterated albeit subtly that he would like his team to play like Jose Mourinho’s team but with a little beauty. If you dissect this statement, you’ll realise that the Dutchman strives to strike a balance between style and poise while his former student prefers only poise.
Benitez further revealed that eighteen months later, Liverpool were the ones who got the better of Chelsea, this time around in the 2006 champions league semi-finals. Benitez had previously led his team to edge out Mourinho’s side in the FA cup so many expected Mourinho to be fuming and when both of them bumped into each other at Old Trafford where the game was played, this time the Portuguese’s critics were right because instead of the warm gestures that ensued when they last met, Mourinho just walked past his colleague. There was no form of conversation neither was there any greetings, Benitez recalled that the Chelsea boss and his staff just walked past him with their mouths muted.
Benitez’s interpretation of the two incidents was that Liverpool had now gotten to the stage where Mourinho was beginning to see them as a threat and worthy rivals who had the quality to hamper his chances of accomplishing his targets at the Stamford Bridge. The former Liverpool boss also noted that although Chelsea still fared better than his side in the Premier League, Liverpool could still muster enough determination to square up to the Blues in the cup games.
This is Benitez’s opinion and could be saddled with extreme prejudice but whichever way you choose to view it from, you can only arrive at one fact that both managers professionally loathe each other and perhaps Mourinho’s hatred extends to the whole of Liverpool as a club because his relationship with Brendan Rodgers who is now in charge has also been deteriorating steadily of recent. Then again, it could just be an attitude problem or a poor attempt at intimidating others if you consider the showdown that he and Arsene Wenger have faced of late.