FROM STEVE BRENNER IN WASHINGTON DC
JOSE MOURINHO labelled Rafa Benitez a fatty after being taunted by the Spaniard’s missus.
The Chelsea chief’s acid tongue was already working overtime this summer as he laid into domestic rivals Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini.
Then Montse Benitez, wife of his managerial arch-enemy, joked that her hubby was used to being brought in by clubs to clear up the mess left by the Special One.
Mourinho stormed: “If she takes care of her husband’s diet she will have less time to speak about me.”
Benitez was mockingly called ‘Fat Spanish Waiter’ by Chelsea fans who hated every moment of his six-month spell at Stamford Bridge.
The Spaniard has also followed Mourinho as boss of Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
That was what sparked Mrs B (right) to claim: “We tidy up his messes!” Mourinho, on tour with Chelsea in Washington, was asked for his response. And he did not hold back, declaring: “The lady is a bit confused, with all respect.
“I’m not laughing, because her husband went to Chelsea to replace Roberto Di Matteo and he went to Real Madrid and replaced Carlo Ancelotti.
“The only club where her husband replaced me was at Inter Milan, where in six months he destroyed the best team in Europe at the time.
“And for her also to think about me and to speak about me, I think the lady needs to occupy her time.”
Benitez appears to be the innocent party in all this.
He was in China with Real when his wife — back in Madrid — made her comment. But Mourinho could not care less.
As far as the Special One is concerned, when it comes to the Spaniard, absolutely ANYTHING is fair game.
Their feud is not a false one, played up by the media. It is real, vicious and undisguised. When Mourinho goes for ness. They are, after all, top-four rivals, pretenders to his throne.
That is why the Portuguese gave Wenger’s tail a tweak this week with a jibe about how much the Arsenal boss had spent this summer.
And when Pellegrini claimed Mourinho loves to take the credit for everything, the Chelsea chief said it was strange the City boss was thinking about him while on holiday.
With Benitez, though, who is again in a different country and not a direct competitor, it is pure, unadulterated pleasure.
It is hard to believe sometimes that they used to get on. When both arrived in England from Iberia in 2004 — Benitez leaving Valencia for Liverpool, Mourinho coming to Chelsea from Porto — they saw themselves as fellow travellers.
Not for long. Mourinho still broods over Luis Garcia’s “ghost goal” in the 2005 Champions League semi-final, Benitez happily winds him up. They both get off on it.
For now, Benitez has let the fat jibe ride. Pressed for a response ahead of his side’s game in Shanghai against AC Milan, he said: “I’m the coach of Madrid. I like football, I understand football and I’m only going to talk about football.”
Let’s see if Benitez is quite so calm if Chelsea and Madrid are paired in the Champions League draw next month.
Especially as the Stamford Bridge outfit reckon they are going to be major contenders for Europe’s top prize this season.
Chelsea were KO’d at the last 16 stage by Paris Saint-Germain last term, although they did win the Premier League and Capital One Cup. And midfield enforcer Nemanja Matic reckons the Blues are ready to rumble in Europe’s biggest competition.
The Serbian (right) said: “To be champion you need to have everything — quality, luck and everything. “This season I hope we have more luck and with our quality I think that this is enough to be champion.
“I think we have quality like the big teams.
“We are a big team and we will show that this season. We are ready, like I said. We are ready to compete with everyone. I’m not scared.
“Our players can compete with all their stars. That’s why they are Chelsea players.
“Of course every game you don’t win, after that game you feel like you should do better but this is football.
“Last season we showed our quality and took two trophies.
“It’s difficult especially when you’re in the Premier League to win both but we are ready for the season.”
Mourinho will come face-to-face with domestic rival Wenger in the Community Shield on Sunday.
Matic added: “We are ready for the next season and I hope we start well with a trophy.
“We will try to show our quality in the first game.
“Of course against champions everyone has special motivation and wants to win but we are ready for that and we believe in our quality.
“We will be targeted because everyone is going to play against us 100 per cent.”
But when it comes to targeting managers, Mourinho is the undisputed champ.