Inter Supporters: Quit Mourning Mourinho and Embrace Rafael Benítez
Jose Mourinho famously led Inter Milan to Champions League glory, and completed their unprecedented "treble year" in style. He became the first manager of an Italian to club to win the Scudetto, Copa Italia and the Champions League. The man many call "The Special One" couldn't have left Inter with a higher approval rating from their supporters.
Nearly 100,000 Nerazzurri fans gathered in Milan's Cathedral Square to celebrate the club's triumphs in late May and sang begging Mourinho to stay.
As much as they loved their manager, it was obvious that nothing was going to keep him away from lure of taking over at Real Madrid.
Inter supporters may still be recovering from losing Mourinho, but they should take comfort in their club appointing one Europe's top managers as his replacement. Rafael Benítez achieved fantastic success in his early years at both Liverpool and previously at Valencia.
His debut season as Liverpool manager yielded his greatest victory as he won the 2005 Champions League. Inter's rivals AC Milan were stunningly defeated despite leading 3-0 at halftime in a thrilling comeback.
Benítez was able to follow that up with success in the 2006 FA Cup Final as his Reds staged another improbable late rally. He narrowly missed out on lifting a second Champions League trophy the next season, this time losing to AC Milan. Rafa fell just four points short of delivering Liverpool's first English title since 1990, as Manchester United were again crowned champions in 2008-09.
His years at Valencia were equally impressive as his time at Liverpool. Even without the spending power of rivals Real Madrid, or Barcelona, Benítez enjoyed tremendous success at the Mestalla. Rafa was able to capture the La Liga title in his first season as "Los Che" boss in 2001-02. He also led Valencia to the UEFA Cup & La Liga double in 2003-04 before departing for Anfield.
Now at Inter, Benítez's style will suit Serie A more than it did in the Premier League. Criticized by some for being too cautious at Liverpool, his preaching of possession-based, physically demanding football should fit well in Italy. His record of knocking Italian clubs out of the Champions League proves this point.
During his famous 2004-05 Champions League run, Rafa defeated Juventus before eventually winning the competition over the more formidable AC Milan. He impressively dispatched Roberto Mancini's Inter sides that dominated Italian football in the 2007-08 knockout stage.
Benítez's best example might have not come against a Serie A club but rather the much-favored Barcelona when his counter-attacking Reds shockingly knocked out the Catalan giants during previous year's knockout stage.
Benítez's record speaks for itself as it holds up to any manager's in Europe. He never had the opportunity to walk into a ready-built club with large transfer budgets like Mourinho at Chelsea. Rafa has always had to rebuild squads under tight financial constraints.
Without the ownership distractions he dealt with at Liverpool and a fresh transfer budget, Rafa could very well go on to equal the success Inter experienced under Mancini and Mourinho. Soon the Nerazzurri faithful could be signing his name as they once did "The Special One's."
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