Sunday 18 March 2018

Rafa bullish on emulating Mourinho

Rafa Benitez. Photo: Getty Images
Rafa Benitez. Photo: Getty Images

New Inter Milan coach Rafael Benitez is confident he can follow in Jose Mourinho's footsteps, claiming this is the start of an "historic period" for the club.

Benitez was today unveiled as the new Inter boss following his departure from Liverpool and Mourinho's switch to Real Madrid.

The Spaniard has a daunting task ahead of him after Mourinho led Inter to the Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League treble last season.

However, Benitez insists he is up to the challenge but knows to do that he must ensure the players maintain their winning mentality.

"Inter are coming off an almost perfect year. I want the footballers not to lose the desire to win. I want to keep that winning mentality and I think I can," said Benitez.

"I'm happy to have top-class players. The difficulty will be keeping this level but we can do that. I think the level is high and if we can keep that winning spirit I think we can do well.

"If the players can do the same again this year, for two more years or even will be an historic period for the club."

Benitez has signed a two-year deal at the San Siro but is confident success will see him extend his stay with the Serie A giants.

The Champions League-winning coach spent six years at Liverpool and believes he could stay even longer at Inter.

He said: "In Spain, Italy, it's not normal to do long contracts. I came to an agreement with the club and if we do well then we will talk about a new contract.

"If I do well I think I can be here for six, seven, even eight years.

"To be successful here is to try to do the right things, to win a title. The main thing is to keep the spirit and then we can win something.

"We'll see at the end of the year if it's been a success."

Mourinho made several enemies during his team in Italian football and also fell out with the press, who he did not speak to for the final few weeks of last season.

Benitez, who once launched a famous televised broadside at Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, is used to dealing with a media frenzy and insists he will not crack under pressure.

"I think the mentality is similar to the Spanish one, people will talk and will criticise. If we win and we play good football it will be easier," he said.

"I don't think I am the anti-Mourinho but I am different.

"I am a coach who likes winning, who likes playing good football, though, so I don't think we are different in that."

Mourinho was often criticised for a lack of attractive football. And, while Benitez claims his aim is to entertain on the pitch, he insists trophies come first.

He said: "I think that's a difficult question. What's good football for you? For me? For our fans?

"We all know that in England you play a more direct game, Spain is more about short passes. Here we play differently to Spain, what's better?

"The mentality is always to win playing well and playing well depends on the players you have. I have the mentality of winning playing good football. I think the players are good and they like playing good football.

"We'll try to win playing good football but what's most important is winning."

Speculation is rife that Benitez will raid Liverpool for his former players.

The 50-year-old remained tight-lipped on possible transfer targets, though, insisting his first aim is to get to know the players already at the San Siro.

"I've only been here two days," said Benitez. "It's important to talk about important players, and there will be time for that.

"I will try to buy good players, of a good level who will suit a top level club but I can't say their names. Good players.

"I don't talk about players of other teams. We have to analyse the future and then we will decide what player we want."

Benitez is looking to get off to the best possible start in Italy as there are immediately two trophies up for grabs in the Italian and European Supercups.

And the Spaniard is going to be demanding the most of his new players.

He continued: "We have the possibility to win six trophies this year. I have that experience because with Liverpool we faced the European Supercup and the Community Shield quickly after each other.

"We have to work hard because there are hard battles waiting for us in August.

"I like working hard, like working with players, like being a teacher.

"I like pushing the players because that way they learn. That could be positive or a defect because sometimes players get angry."

Press Association

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