Interviews

“He was doing what he had to do, and I was doing what I had to do”: Rafa Benitez speaks out on Jose Mourinho feud

Former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has spoken to FourFourTwo about his long-standing rivalry with new Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho

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Despite both men having Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Chelsea on their CVs they have rarely seen eye-to-eye.

They have exchanged figurative blows several times, but things came to a head when Mourinho responded aggressively to a newspaper interview with Benitez’s wife Montserrat in 2015. 

After Montserrat said “we tidy up his messes”, the Portuguese responded: “I think the lady needs to occupy her time. If she takes care of her husband’s diet she will have less time to speak about me.

“The lady is a bit confused, with all respect - I’m not laughing. The only club where her husband replaced me was at Inter Milan, where in six months he destroyed the best team in Europe at the time.” 

But speaking exclusively in the December 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, available now, Benitez says: “He was doing what he had to do, and I was doing what I had to do. 

“That was the reason why Liverpool were competing against a club spending double or triple the money we were spending.

“But that’s all finished now.” 

Rafa Benitez

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The new Tottenham boss won a La Liga title and the Copa del Rey in three seasons at the Bernabeu, while Benitez was sacked halfway through his first term amid rumours of a dressing room fall out. 

But Benitez is defensive about his record in Spain’s capital, and thinks there were ulterior motives behind his early dismissal. 

“The fans were against the president, and that was the key point,” he reveals. “As soon as the fans are upset with the decisions at the top, the manager is under pressure.

“People don’t remember that we were only two points behind Barca, that we scored eight goals against Malmo and 10 against Rayo Vallecano, and that we had finished top of our Champions League group ahead of Paris Saint-Germain.” 

Benitez, who ended a popular stint as Newcastle boss in June, also claims it wasn’t the first time he had been approached by Florentino Perez.

“I’d had the offer from Real Madrid two or three times before,” says Benitez, who kicked off his managerial career with a spell in charge of the club’s B team. “I thought, ‘OK, maybe now is the time’. I had more experience. But we lost at home to Barcelona.”

You can read the full interview with Rafa Benitez in the December 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. In a managers special, Graham Potter talks working miracles from Sweden to the Premier League, and World Cup winner Luis Felipe Scolari reveals the games that changed his life. We also catch up with former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, who shares his 10-point plan to ensure success in the dugout, and hear how ex-Rangers and Leeds defender David Robertson ended up in a war zone leading Real Kashmir. Elsewhere, we remember the darkest hours that helped Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Brian Clough and Carlo Ancelotti forge incredible careers, find out why Diego Simeone became one of the decade's most decorated managers, and hail the maddest gaffers of all time.

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