Chelsea’s era of success from 2004 onwards could have belonged to Liverpool if things had turned out differently.
Brendan Rodgers admitted two years ago that Jose Mourinho could have replaced Gerard Houllier at Anfield, not Rafa Benitez.
“There is no doubt that there was a period back in the early 2000s that this club was a possibility for him,” Rodgers said, per the Mirror.
Liverpool’s decision to hire Benitez certainly paid off. He helped the club win the Champions League, FA Cup and UEFA Super Cup in his six years in charge.
Yet is was probably difficult for Liverpool’s board to watch Mourinho deliver trophy after trophy to Stamford Bridge. The Portuguese turned Chelsea into one of England’s elite teams upon his arrival.
Time has since moved on, of course. Mourinho has since managed Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Chelsea (again) since leaving the Blues for the first time, while Benitez is currently managing in the Championship.
Yet Liverpool’s preference towards Benitez has drastically shaped Premier League history. It’s impossible to say how Liverpool would have fared with Mourinho in charge, but it’s still interesting to think what might have been.
Murphy: Mourinho wanted Liverpool
Danny Murphy has shed some light on just why the Reds went Spanish over Portuguese.
“When Benitez was appointed at Liverpool, it was between him and Mourinho,” Murphy told TalkSPORT. “I know that for a fact. Mourinho wanted the Liverpool job massively.
“But Liverpool basically went with Benitez, because he’d just won the Spanish league title and UEFA Cup with Valencia and they thought that was more solid an appointment than someone who had only done it, and that time, in Portugal.
“I know Mourinho was massively disappointed.
“I’m gutted too, because Benitez came in and didn’t want me. I’m just gutted it wasn’t Mourinho because he might have wanted me to stay!”
Looking back, Liverpool supporters probably wouldn’t have swapped Benitez for Mourinho despite the success he has achieved in football. Benitez, who arrived from Valencia, made Liverpool champions of Europe for the fifth time in their history.
There’s no way fans would accept Mourinho at Anfield now. He joined Liverpool’s rivals, Manchester United, in the summer.
And anyway, they’re having too much fun with Jurgen Klopp.