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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 8, 2007

Madrid legend slams Benitez and Mourinho

Former World Cup-winner Jorge Valdano has fiercely criticised the style of football produced by Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez, claiming it stems from their failure to find success as players.

The Argentinian, a legend at Real Madrid where he played, coached and was most recently sporting director, has criticised Chelsea boss Mourinho and Liverpool counterpart Benitez following the uninspiring Champions League semi-final tie between the English sides.

'Football is made up of subjective feeling, of suggestion - and, in that, Anfield is unbeatable. Put a s*** hanging from a stick in the middle of this passionate, crazy stadium and there are people who will tell you it's a work of art. It's not: it's a s*** hanging from a stick,' he wrote in Spanish newspaper Marca.

'Chelsea and Liverpool are the clearest, most exaggerated example of the way football is going: very intense, very collective, very tactical, very physical, and very direct.

'But, a short pass? No. A feint? No. A change of pace? No. A one-two? A nutmeg? A backheel? Don't be ridiculous. None of that. The extreme control and seriousness with which both teams played the semi-final neutralised any creative licence, any moments of exquisite skill.'

Despite his father's status in the game as a former Portugal goalkeeper, Mourinho never played professionally and instead focused his sights on a coaching future while Benitez also only achieved success by working his way up the coaching structure, having failed to make an appearance in the Primera Liga.

Valdano believes that has led to a degree of cynicism as managers.

'The lives of Mourinho and Benitez have crossed in a world that is ever more scrutinised and exposed by the media, which is why they look at each other with such distrust.

'But they have two things in common: a previously denied, hitherto unsatisfied hunger for glory, and a desire to have everything under control.

'Both of those things stem from one key factor: neither Mourinho nor Benitez made it as a player. That has made them channel all their vanity into coaching.

'Those who did not have the talent to make it as players do not believe in the talent of players, they do not believe in the ability to improvise in order to win football matches. In short, Benitez and Mourinho are exactly the kind of coaches that Benitez and Mourinho would have needed to have made it as players.'