Boggs examines the ins and outs of the Premiership’s best hate-hate relationship ahead of Sunday’s rematch.
We’ve gone on and on here before about how Rafa vs. Jose, and therefore Liverpool vs. Chelsea is now the Premiership’s most compelling battle. The other two just don’t seem to put the effort in like they used to.
But what is fueling the hatred, why have the pair zeroed in on each other rather than either Arsene or Fergie? Jose seems to go out of his way to wind up Rafa, and it can’t just be because of one dodgy goal.
Is it simply a matter of threat?
As with United-Arsenal in the past, non-geographical rivalries are usually defined by competitive threats, so perhaps Mourinho sees Liverpool as the biggest danger to his Chelsea’s dominance? After all, Rafa can boast ending Jose’s dreams in a number of cup competitions.
Is it similarity?
Both managers are young, talented and…err..Iberian…but more importantly smart and ambitious enough to prioritize simply winning football matches and little else. Their teams both play at a relatively slow pace, relying on incisive counter attacking, long passes and a heavy dose of 4-5-1/4-3-3 that was criticised at first but has now sent other Premiership clubs running to do likewise.
Even their achievements line up in eerily similar fashion, Rafa and Jose are two of just three managers who have won the UEFA cup followed by the Champions League the next season. They won the Spanish and Portugese leagues respectively before jumping to more prestigious clubs in England the following year where both won major trophies at the first attempt. They are also both known for breaking up long standing two-horse races for a league title. It’s hard enough making such an impact in a new league, it can’t be easy having to share the limelight. Speaking of which…
Is it jealousy?
Both are trying to establish a new era of success for their clubs and cement a legacy that will not be forgotten by the footballing world. But with the trophies being split between them, they are fighting each other tooth and nail for the attention their achievements deserve.
Are they sick of each other?
After meeting a whopping 11 times in the past two seasons, a nerve has most definitely been struck with both men and no matter what they claim the two bosses are very much in each other’s head. The most recent exchange in the run up to the Charity Shield on Sunday had Mourinho at his “Who, me?” antagonistic best with Benitez playing the passive, but very aggressive, victim perfectly.
So here’s hoping for a Liverpool-Chelsea draw in every cup competition this year, because at this rate it’s only a matter of time before one of them does a Keegan.