Rafael Benítez insists he is not intimidated after replacing José Mourinho at European champions FC Internazionale Milano. "He did a great job here," said the 50-year-old, "but I'm different."
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Rafael Benítez promised to keep the winning momentum going after meeting the press for the first time since replacing Real Madrid CF-bound José Mourinho as FC Internazionale Milano coach.
Inter completed an impressive treble with victory against FC Bayern München in May's UEFA Champions League final, leaving former Valencia CF and Liverpool FC coach Benítez with a tough act to follow at San Siro. However, he is not overawed by the thought of stepping into Mourinho's shoes. "He did a great job here, but I'm different," said the 50-year-old. "I like to win and also to play good football, if possible."
While new ideas may be in circulation, Benítez ruled out wholesale changes at the club. "Inter had an almost flawless campaign last term, and what I want to do is to retain that winning mentality. The Italian mentality is like the Spanish one, so when you win it is always easier to work. It wouldn't be a smart move if I decided to change everything here – if it worked well I have to keep it going."
When Mourinho arrived in Milan two years ago, he told reporters "I'm not stupid"; Benítez went a step further: "I think the fact I'm here means I'm smart." He admitted leaving Anfield had been a wrench, but it was less than a week before he was hired by Inter. "It was not easy to leave Liverpool but many of the players wished me luck. This is a perfect opportunity in terms of my career."
Inter's UEFA Champions League success sparked hopes of a general revival in Italian football following some fallow years, and Benítez felt optimistic that other Serie A sides could follow the Nerazzurri's lead. "I'm not scared of other teams," he explained. "As far as I'm concerned, if some other Italian clubs can come closer to Inter's standard it will be a positive thing for the whole of Italian football."