Mourinho fires back after teaser

Gary Cahill heading past Barcelona goalkeeper Jordi Masip to equalise for Chelsea, suffering a suspected broken nose in the process. He and Diego Costa, who has a slight hamstring strain, may miss Sunday's Community Shield.
Gary Cahill heading past Barcelona goalkeeper Jordi Masip to equalise for Chelsea, suffering a suspected broken nose in the process. He and Diego Costa, who has a slight hamstring strain, may miss Sunday's Community Shield.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Benitez's wife's jokes may have reopened old wounds stemming from Reds-Blues rivalry

WASHINGTON • Jose Mourinho has launched a stinging attack on Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez, after the Spaniard's wife teased the Chelsea boss by saying her husband was always having to tidy up messes left by the Portuguese.

Montserrat Seara triggered the attack after Spanish newspaper La Region published her light-hearted remark following Benitez's appointment at the Bernabeu last month, the third time he has joined a club previously managed by his rival.

Mourinho was clearly not amused and speaking to reporters after Chelsea beat European champions Barcelona 4-2 on penalties in a Washington friendly, he delivered a withering straight-faced response.

"The lady is a bit confused," he said, drawing laughs from reporters. "I am not laughing...

"Her husband went to Chelsea to replace Roberto di Matteo and he went to Real Madrid and replaced Carlo Ancelotti.

"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.

"For her also to think about me, and to speak about me, I think she needs to occupy her time. And if she takes care of her husband's diet, she will have less time to speak about me."

Benitez - nicknamed "the fat Spanish waiter" by Everton fans during his time in charge at Liverpool - was hired by Inter Milan in mid-2010.

He took over from Mourinho, who had led an ageing team to a European and domestic treble before leaving for Real Madrid.

But the Spaniard was dismissed after six months, with the club down in seventh place in Serie A.

Benitez also managed Chelsea on an interim basis, succeeding Roberto di Matteo in 2012. That was five years after Mourinho's first spell ended, when the Italian was sacked six months following their Champions League win.

His spouse's comments appear to have rekindled a bitter feud between the two men that dates back to his time at Anfield, when he clashed with Mourinho several times between 2005 and 2007.

They started to trade barbs after Liverpool controversially defeated Chelsea in the 2005 Champions League semi-final thanks to Luis Garcia's "ghost goal".

Liverpool again got the better of the Blues in the 2007 Champions League semi-final as well as in a league match that year.

"Me and Jose were really good friends until Liverpool started beating Chelsea. Since then, he's changed his mind," Benitez said when asked why the pair had not shaken hands after the game that effectively ended Chelsea's league title hopes.

Both managers have since gone on to lift more silverware. And Mourinho can win another trophy on Sunday when his league champions meet FA Cup holders Arsenal in the Community Shield at Wembley.

The 52-year-old described the Barcelona match as "fantastic" preparation for the new season.

Eden Hazard scored an exquisite opener for the Blues before the Catalan giants - playing without Lionel Messi and Neymar - hit back with two goals in the second half.

Gary Cahill scored with a brave header late on to send the game to a shoot-out at FedEx Field, but is now a doubt for Sunday.

"Cahill has a chance of a broken nose," Mourinho said. "If yes, goes tomorrow to make a mask to be ready to play Sunday. (Diego) Costa, he felt a little thing in his hamstring. No more than that, but we have to wait."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2015, with the headline 'Mourinho fires back after teaser'. Print Edition | Subscribe