Jamie Carragher and John Terry have taken a trip down memory lane, recalling the explosive rivalry between their former managers Rafa Benitez and José Mourinho.
The two bosses arrived in the Premier League at the same time in 2004, and in their respective first seasons at Liverpool and Chelsea, they would set off on one of the most furious managerial feuds English football has seen.
The astute, grounded Benitez and the haughty, self-assured ‘Special One’ faced off no fewer than five times in that first season, but it was the latter – in the midst of a groundbreaking title-winning campaign at Stamford Bridge – who got the better of it.
And Carragher and Terry, who had front row seats at the heart of each defence, both remember it well.
In an off-script conversation with the former Chelsea captain for Sky Sports, Carragher said:
“I played Chelsea 47 times, so they’re the opponents I came up against most.
“I always wondered if a lot of the animosity came from us frustrating you because you were always so much better than us.
“I don’t think we were ever on a level playing field. We knew that, you knew that. But the fact we could get results against you at that time, certainly under Jose’s era, was that a little bit part of it?”
Terry replied, recalling the Portuguese’s team-talk before the Champions League semi-final second leg at Anfield, by which point Chelsea had already won the Premier League.
“Yeah, it was, and both managers made a big thing of that,” he said. “I remember the team talk Mourinho gave after we won the league for the first time, and I think we were something like 20 or 30 points ahead of you, and he was saying: ‘There’s no way you can lose this game against these’.
“He couldn’t even say the name Liverpool, he couldn’t even pronounce the team. It was: ‘You do not lose to these today, we are so much better than these’. I remember that still today.”