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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

DIC deny Mourinho offered Benitez's job

Liverpool fans' groups have been assured that Jose Mourinho has not been offered Rafael Benitez's job as boss at Anfield.

In a situation similar to the one admitted by co-owners Tom Hicks that they did meet Jurgen Klinsmann last year to discuss a possible appointment at Anfield, it has now been claimed that Dubai International Capital have held conversations with former Chelsea boss Mourinho.

But sources at DIC have denied that they have ever 'offered the job to Mourinho, or met him to discuss it.'

And DIC's representatives, who have good relations with a number of Liverpool fans' groups including the recently formed Spirit of Shankly organisation, have gone to the point today of contacting them to deny speculation over Mourinho.

They are aware that Liverpool fans would react with horror if they believed Mourinho was a possible replacement for Benitez, who has been shown that he has fans' full support to continue in the job.

Anfield supporters have not forgiven Mourinho for much of the rhetoric and confrontational attitude towards the club taken over the years by the Portuguese coach, particularly involving the Champions League clashes between Liverpool and Chelsea.

So it is being greeted with suspicion that more speculation over Mourinho and Liverpool has surfaced just days before the clubs meet again at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in the Champions League semi-final second leg.

DIC are acutely aware that if they do eventually take over at Anfield, Benitez has complete backing from the club's fans and any move to dislodge him would be a massive PR blunder.

It is believed DIC have actually been contacted twice by intermediaries for Mourinho suggesting a meeting, but the offer has not been taken up because they are happy with the job Benitez is doing and they are very aware of the reaction from the Kop fans.

Benitez is also believed to be aware of DIC's stance as he bids to take Liverpool to their third European Cup final in four seasons.

• Meanwhile, Mourinho has spoken enthusiastically about the possibility of taking charge of either Real Madrid or Barcelona one day.

The Primera Liga giants are two of a number of clubs frequently being linked with Mourinho, who has been out of work since leaving Chelsea earlier this season.

The Portuguese insists his next destination has yet to be decided, but he admits the top jobs at Madrid and Barca both appeal to him.

'Barcelona is an absolutely fantastic club and I enjoyed my time there very much, just like in the six games I have played against them in three years,' said Mourinho, who was at Barca earlier in his career as an assistant coach.

'I don't know if my future will be to train Barca or to play against them. (Either way) what is clear is that I hope to enjoy myself again with Barcelona.'

Like Barca, Real Madrid still have a coach in place at present but that has not stopped speculation about the possibility of Mourinho taking charge at the Bernabeu either.

When asked about Madrid during an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC this weekend, Mourinho said: 'Every coach wants to coach Real Madrid, I am not the only one.'

Mourinho also denied any suggestion that he had already signed a deal to become the next boss of Italian side Inter Milan.

'No, I continue being a coach free to decide my future. I do not feel any type of pressure to decide what I want to do. I can wait a little more.'

The former Porto manager's immediate future will almost certainly see him end up either in Spain or Italy but a return to the Premier League remains a long-term goal.

'I am a lover of English football, but after having been at Chelsea three seasons I would like to change leagues and return afterwards to England,' he said.

'Spain and Italy along with England are three countries with the greater quality leagues, with the greater impact on a world level.

'Calcio (Serie A) is very tactical, with quite a defined football philosophy. I would like to work there with my ideas and my philosophy.

'I have worked four years in Spain, as an assistant and not as a coach. But it was a very nice time and I would not have problem about returning.'