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Last Updated: Friday, 25 February, 2005, 07:05 GMT
Tactical masters fight for glory
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez won the biggest prizes in Europe last season - now they will gladly celebrate claiming what many regard as the B-list honour of the English game.

Rafael Benitez and Jose Mourinho

Mourinho won the Champions League with Porto while Benitez was a Uefa Cup winner with Valencia, but their attention this Sunday will be locked on the Carling Cup final in Cardiff.

Both men decided to seek pastures new after European glory, with Mourinho leaving Porto immediately after their win against Monaco to join Chelsea and Benitez agreeing to replace Gerard Houllier at Liverpool.

One will land his first English trophy on Sunday - but what drives these meticulous men?


Benitez was actually on Real Madrid's books as a player. He joined as a youngster and stayed seven years without getting a first team game.

He moved to third division side Parla, helping them to promotion in 1983. After joining Segunda B side Linares, he spent a lengthy spell on the sidelines before returning to Real as a coach in 1986.

A reserve team defender or midfielder, he never played professionally, but football was in his blood as the son of famous Portugal goalkeeper Felix Mourinho.

He was in the shadow squad when his father was coach at unfashionable Portuguese First Division side Rio Ave, where as a teenager he acted as unofficial scout.

Mourinho completed a Uefa coaching course in 1987 and then took low-profile coaching positions at Portuguese clubs Estrela Amadora and Vitoria Setubal as he started his rise to the top.


Benitez worked at Real Madrid from 1989 to 1995, winning the league with the youth and B teams before assisting manager Vicente del Bosque.

He took his first top job in charge of Real Vallodolid, but was sacked after only 23 games with the team bottom of the league. He then only won one game out of nine at Osasuna before showing his true potential at Extremedura in 1997.

Rafael Benitez
Benitez won the Uefa Cup at Valencia

He won the second division title at his first attempt, but they were relegated after only one season.

Benitez then took a sabbatical to study coaching methods before leading Tenerife to the second division crown in 2001.

He was so impressive that he was named as the surprise successor to Hector Cuper at Valencia.

Valencia's fans were unimpressed with the appointment, but he silenced the doubters with the club's first La Liga title in 31 years.

He repeated the feat in 2004 - and added the Uefa Cup for good measure to attract Liverpool's attention.

Mourinho's mentor was Sir Bobby Robson - accepting a job as his translator in 1992 before taking on the role of assistant coach.

He was at Porto with Robson between 1994 and 1996, winning two titles before joining him at Barcelona two years later, helping him win the European Cup Winners' Cup.

Jose Mourinho and Sir Bobby Robson
Mourinho was guided by mentor Robson

Mourinho remained at the Nou Camp under Louis van Gaal, before taking over as Benfica coach in 2000 - lasting only nine games before resigning because of boardroom problems.

He then guided little-known Uniao de Leiria to the top five of the Portuguese league before taking over at Porto in January 2002.

In his first full season in charge he delivered the league, cup and Uefa Cup, beating Celtic in the final.

The next season it was Champions League glory - and he was on the road to Chelsea.


Benitez demands a high-tempo attacking style that has been welcomed by Liverpool fans - it was a method that clinched his appointment.

When consulted about potential successors to Houllier, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher all name-checked Valencia as the best team they had played in years.

He is prepared to rotate his squad, sometimes using one man up front, but the occasionally bizarre team selection - namely in the defeat at Burnley in the FA Cup - has undermined his first season.

Mourinho's teams are built around solid defence, with Porto employing a counter-attacking style.

Chelsea are miserly in defence, but Mourinho is more than happy to employ flair, as he did when he had both Damien Duff and Arjen Robben fit and firing.

Not big on rotation, he announced: "I hate big squads. I want 21 outfield players plus goalkeepers. I work with small squads for very specific work."

First priority is not to concede - and Chelsea rarely concede.


Smiling, charming Spaniard who once described himself as a "loner with a laptop" because of the time he spent alone master-minding tactics on his computer.

Admits he studies tactics and plots games at 4am and is obsessive about his football.

Mild-mannered, but has a ruthless streak as he showed over the sale of Michael Owen and also a calculated public attack on his players after their defeat at Birmingham.

Steely and determined, he left Valencia in tears after becoming dissatisfied with behind-the-scenes politics.

He also expressed his dissatisfaction over the club's failure to strengthen Valencia's squad with players he recommended.

Benitez reportedly said: "I asked for a table and they bought me a lamp."

Charming - but not to be trifled with.

Outspoken, blunt, charismatic, ruthless. A breath of fresh air in the Premiership.

Pursued his coaching ambitions with fierce desire, and was single-minded enough to leave Porto in the wake of their Champions League success.

Jose Mourinho won the Champions League with Porto
Mourinho has claimed Europe's highest honours

He said: "It was a wonderful story, but the story has to end."

Like Benitez, he is a devoted family man, but is consumed by seeking success at Chelsea.

Respected at all levels, Sir Alex Ferguson is an admirer and Scunthorpe manager Brian Laws said Mourinho ensured they were "treated like kings" when they visited Stamford Bridge for an FA Cup tie this season.

Mourinho even presented Laws with his meticulously-prepared scouting report on Scunthorpe.


Chelsea will look to inspirational captain John Terry to remove the threat of Liverpool's brilliant new Spanish striker Fernando Morientes - but it will be a midfield duel that could decide this final.

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard
Gerrard and Lampard's battle could decide final

And, more specifically, the battle between England pair Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

Gerrard is the driving force and icon for Liverpool - now arguably above Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Lampard as the Premiership's finest midfield operator.

He possesses a brilliant range of passing, now scoring the goals he should and is a natural leader.

Lampard, however, has performed magnificently for Chelsea this season and will relish the battle.

He is also now a regular goalscorer and has flourished among the multi-million pound Chelsea imports.


Two outstanding additions to the Premiership managerial roster.

They will make the Carling Cup final a battle of tactics and wits as two of Europe's most successful coaches look to add another honour to their list.

Links to more League Cup stories


News conference: Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho

News conference: Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez

Who will win the Carling Cup final?
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