Jose Mourinho has spoken out about the long-standing rivalry that has existed between himself and Rafa Benitez over the years, suggesting that his problem was between their clubs at the time more than it was with Benitez.
Tomorrow’s clash at Old Trafford sees the two former Premier League rivals meet as opposing managers for the first time in over 10 years, with their feud beginning while Benitez was in charge at Liverpool and Mourinho the manager of Chelsea.
They have exchanged several back handed comments over the years, both arriving in England in 2004 as two of the brightest new coaches on the scene, and it was the Champions League semi-final that Benitez’s Liverpool won through what Mourinho famously described as “the ghost goal” that possibly ignited their rivalry.
Mourinho has played down their personal dislike for each other in an interview ahead of tomorrow’s game however, claiming they are purely two successful managers from the same generation that only wanted the best for their rival clubs at the time:
“I don’t think the rivalry was with Rafael, it was more between our clubs than between us.
“We are managers from the same generation.
“We came to England in the same season – 2004-05.
“We were both successful in European competitions – not many have won Champions League and Europa League, and we are some of the few managers who did it.”
The Man Utd boss then went on to admit he has ‘huge respect’ for Benitez’s and his talent as a manager – and would like to think he feels the same way about him:
“Of course, between Liverpool and Chelsea, we had matches and rivalry, and it happens.
“But I have huge respect for him, for his talent, for his career, and I want to believe he feels the same.”
A respectful and mature assessment from Mourinho, however this does not reflect their apparent dislike for each other other the years.
Here’s some clips of their rivalry over the years: