Former Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez made a thinly veiled dig at his successor at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho, in comments published on Monday, chiding him for his apparent win-at-all-costs attitude.
Benitez was recently appointed as head coach of Napoli after a successful spell as Chelsea’s interim boss last season, as he led the Blues to the Europa League title and ensured Champions League qualification for next season.
But when asked about Mourinho’s attitude during his time at Real Madrid, Benitez claimed sportsmanship should not be sacrificed just for the sake of winning.
“Everyone is how they are but I try to do things with respect and professionalism. That is how I was educated,” he was quoted as saying by the Spanish sports daily AS.
Benitez and Mourinho had a few heated clashes during the Portuguese’s first spell in charge at Chelsea, when Benitez was still manager of Liverpool.
Mourinho has been heavily criticised in Spain for trying to encourage a divide between the Real Madrid and Barcelona players in the Spanish national team when the rivalry between the two clubs got particularly intense during his first year in charge at Real.
“I always want to win but without overstepping the line of sportsmanship. It is true that I have a better relationship with some coaches than others and I am with those that don’t value the result at any price,” said Benitez.
The Spaniard started off his career at Madrid as a youth team coach and eventually as an assistant to current Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque.
But he said he had not been contacted by Real president Florentino Perez about succeeding Mourinho and was not offered the job again since initially turning it down during his time at Liverpool.
“I have already said that they phoned me when I was committed to Liverpool. And they have never returned to call me,” he said.
“You should ask Florentino and his advisers what is the criteria for selection. I have done enough things and won enough titles in these years for them to know what I can offer.”