MILAN - Rafa Benitez was named Inter
Milan coach on Thursday, charged with the tough task of matching
last season's stunning treble success under Jose Mourinho.
Spaniard Benitez, who last week ended his six-year spell at
Liverpool, has penned a two-year deal with the European, Serie A
and Italian Cup champions.
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"Inter welcome Rafael Benitez," the club said in a
statement, adding the coach would hold a news conference on
Mourinho quit for Real Madrid in the wake of Inter's
Champions League triumph last month, having become disillusioned
with Italian football.
Inter acted quickly to tie up Benitez, who won the Champions
League with Liverpool in 2005 and reached the final in 2007.
Club president Massimo Moratti first targeted England boss
Fabio Capello but when the Italian decided to stay until Euro
2012, attention turned to Benitez as he left Liverpool.
The 50-year-old Spaniard knows plenty about Serie A having
visited for European games with Liverpool and faced Inter's city
rivals AC Milan in both his Champions League finals.
He already speaks decent Italian, which went down well with
the country's demanding reporters, and his love of tactics will
endear him to the many Serie A watchers who view football as
more of a chess game.
Doubters have pointed to his shaky record in the transfer
market in the last two seasons, with some of Liverpool's buys
not being seen as sufficient class for the Anfield faithful.
However Italian clubs generally purchase their players
rather than the coach, leaving Benitez to work on his formations
and man-management skills, which some former players have
Repeating an unprecedented Italian treble will be incredibly
difficult, if not impossible given Inter's ageing squad will be
a little older and will have lost their guiding light in
Benitez is a more introverted character than the Portuguese
and will have to fight to impose his authority amid constant
speculation Inter players such as Maicon want to join Mourinho
Another factor counting against Benitez will be the
re-emergence of AS Roma who would have beaten Inter to last
season's Serie A title had they not had a mediocre start.
Juventus, long linked with Benitez before appointing former
Sampdoria boss Luigi Del Neri as coach, are rebuilding after a
dreadful season similar to Liverpool's and look likely to be
more of a force next term.
AC Milan are also close to naming a new coach with former
Cagliari boss Massimiliano Allegri sorting out a severance deal
with his ex-club before being presented.
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