Mourinho is the one under pressure now, says Benitez

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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho insisted yesterday that there was not a club in the world in a better position to win trophies than Chelsea ahead of tomorrow's Carling Cup final, but the current master of English football's mind games found himself under attack from Rafael Benitez.

Jose Mourinho insisted yesterday that there was not a club in the world in a better position to win trophies than Chelsea ahead of tomorrow's Carling Cup final, but the current master of English football's mind games found himself under attack from Rafael Benitez.

Mindful of the way in which Mourinho had controlled the agenda before Wednesday's Champions' League match against Barcelona, the Liverpool manager went on the attack by saying that Chelsea's two successive defeats had left them under pressure. Benitez also suggested that Mourinho had made a mistake with his controversial three-man half-time substitution against Newcastle in the FA Cup last weekend.

Mourinho, speaking for the first time since Chelsea announced on Wednesday night that they were making an official complaint to Uefa about Barcelona, launched a robust defence of his team's record this season after the criticism they have endured since their Champions' League defeat. However, Benitez said that his opponents were only just finding out the pressure that came with success.

Benitez said: "We know they are a team who have been the best in the Premiership but have two important games and are under much pressure - this is the pressure of being favourites. We know we can match them because we played well against them at Anfield on New Year's Day.

"It was surprising to see them play against Barcelona with five across the midfield because normally they play 4-3-3. I am sure they are worried about us. Playing against Barcelona is difficult for any team and it is an extremely hard place to find your proper level."

It was Benitez's allegation that Chelsea must now deliver the trophies that their £200m outlay on players demands that is likely to anger Mourinho more than anything. Asked whether he had ever used all his substitutes at half-time, Benitez said: "Never in my life have I done that."

Benitez said: "When you lose two games or go out the FA Cup, when maybe you might be going out of the Champions' League, you must be worried. Especially if you have spent the amount of money that Chelsea have."

For the Chelsea coach, however, there was nothing about his team's two defeats that he said gave him any cause for fear. He dismissed the suggestion that his "honeymoon" period in the job was over by saying that the only honeymoon he had ever been on was the "20 years I have been married to my wife".

"In the football world, nobody is in a better position than Chelsea," Mourinho said. "Barcelona are top of the league and in the Champions' League but out of their cup. Milan are second in their league, in the Champions' League, but not in the cup. Arsenal and United are in the FA Cup but lost in the Champions' League and are not in the Carling Cup.

"Nobody is in a better position than us. Maybe the way we get result after result, and the way people try to put pressure on Chelsea because of the money we spend, they say we have to beat everybody. The reality is that nobody is in a better position than us. If you think two defeats makes me doubt our work, or what we can do in the future, than I say 'no chance'."

After initially insisting that he would not talk about the dispute at half-time in the Nou Camp - when Chelsea allege that Frank Rijkaard, the Barcelona manager, had a private conversation with the referee Anders Frisk - Mourinho eventually said that officials should only ever speak to coaches in full view of both sides. He also spoke for the first time about Didier Drogba's red card and described Frisk's decision as "wrong".

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