Rafa Benitez is a lot more experienced as manager and as a person than he was when he was at Valencia and Liverpool.
And like most of us who are older, he thinks he has mellowed with time, but he has not lost the drive that made him successful in the first place.
It will be the first time Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez have met for some time, and they were certainly rivals in the past.
In his press conference, Jose tried to play down the rivalry and said he has always respected Rafa as an excellent manager and said it was never personal.
Joe Mourinho and Rafa Benitez – when they were young(er)
Rafa thinks he’s more mature than he used to be and this is some of what he said yesterday – as reported in the Chronicle.
“We are older, that is obvious, and a lot calmer and more relaxed, because you have more experience,”
“You know what’s important. The main thing is the players. You have to concentrate on that. You have to be sure you get the best from your players.”
“But for sure sometimes I am not nice, when I am upset. I try to be respectful to everyone, but sometimes I’m upset and I’m not nice.”
“You try to do the best for your team and your club. Then it depends on your rival and your targets.”
“After that, you know you have to concentrate on the games.”
“In this case, it’s more important for us. Newcastle United is a team that, at the moment, has to work very hard if it wants to get closer to Manchester United.”
“As a manager you have to make decisions to leave players in the stands or say something that you think is good for your team.”
“Normally, I try to be respectful to everyone and do the best for my team.”
Some of that maturity you gain when you get older allows you to tell things on yourself – like Rafa has just done.
And the manager only goes public with things that he feels are important – like when Mike Ashley reneged on his promises of transfer funds last summer.