Karim Benzema has criticised Jose Mourinho for failing to show him respect during the Portuguese’s time at Real Madrid.
Mourinho, who won La Liga the season before, was dismissed by Real Madrid in 2013 despite guiding his side to the Champions League semi-final and Copa del Rey final.
A breakdown in relations with key players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas was what supposedly determined the 54-year-old’s demise.
And Benzema would have fallen under this bracket of players after Mourinho, when discussing using the Frenchman instead of Gonzalo Higuain ahead of a La Liga fixture, referred to the striker as a cat.
“If you don’t have a dog to go hunting but only have a cat, you have to take your cat,” Mourinho noted. “You’ll catch less, but you’ll catch something all the same.”
Speaking over the weekend, the 29-year-old noted that he lost respect for Mourinho for making such a statement in public.
“We always had a good relationship, but after that, there were expressions and statements that were not necessarily well intended,” he said. “I had the impression that it made him laugh. Even if he’s someone I respect, after a while, I started to lose it.
“I told him what I had to say, it took an hour. ‘I’m a football player, you’re my coach, I respect you, respect me as a player’. From that moment on, there was no cat, no dog or whatever.
“I’m shy but if you make fun of me, I’ll be direct. And when you speak your mind, it’s true that things are always better.”
Mourinho doesn’t say stuff like this just for the hell of it. This comment – which, when translated back to its original Spanish, could have meant something even more extreme – was made in order to get something out of Benzema, to evince a particular aspect of his persona that would benefit his attitude in training and on the pitch.
The Frenchman comes across as a somewhat aloof, quiet individual, seemingly always trapped in his own mind, very much alone on the pitch at the masthead of Real’s attack.
Mourinho wanted to see if he would bite, or simply express himself a bit more. And it seems to have worked: a man who hardly says a word spoke to his manager for an hour. And you can be sure that, while he may have adopted an angry tone during the encounter, he would have come out of the whole thing emboldened. Isn’t that always so when we actually express how we feel to someone?
With Mourinho, you can always question the method, but hardly ever the result.