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Jose Mourinho was "massively disappointed" to be overlooked to become the new manager of Liverpool in 2004, former midfielder Danny Murphy has claimed. The current Manchester United boss was heavily linked with a move to Anfield immediately prior to winning the Champions League with FC Porto but Rafael Benitez was eventually appointed ahead of the Portuguese coach.
The Guardian understood the Reds were pursuing Mourinho after the departure of Gerard Houllier, who was sacked after six years on Merseyside. Chelsea were at the time braced to conclude a deal to enlist Mourinho as their own manager, but the now 53-year-old was open to considering a move to the 19-time English league champions.
While Mourinho, who joined United in May, went on to complete a domestic and European triumph with Porto, Benitez claimed a double of his own; adding the formerly named Uefa Cup to the La Liga title at Valencia. The Liverpool hierarchy, which included Rick Parry, were eventually more impressed by the Spaniard's credentials having held off Barcelona and Real Madrid for the second time in two seasons.
"When Benitez came in at Liverpool, it was between Benitez and Mourinho," the former England international told Talksport. "I know that for a fact. And Mourinho wanted the job massively. Liverpool basically went with Benitez, because he'd just won the league in Spain and they thought that was more solid an appointment than someone who had only done it, I think at the time, in Portugal. I know Mourinho was massively disappointed."
Benitez delivered Liverpool's fifth European Cup with victory over AC Milan in Istanbul in his first season in charge, the first of four major honours during his spell at the club. Mourinho moved to Chelsea later in the same summer and would win three Premier League titles, the FA Cup once and three League Cup across two spells at the helm at Stamford Bridge.
But had Mourinho taken the job at Liverpool, it is likely he would not have been considered by the Glazer family to replace Louis van Gaal this summer, such would have been his ties to United's closest rivals. No manager has ever taken charge of both of English football's most successful sides, while Phil Chisnall was the last player to move directly between the two in 1964.
Speaking after being sacked by Liverpool in October 2015, Brendan Rodgers suggested that becoming the manager of United after leaving Merseyside would be close to impossible, given the level of the rivalry between the two sides. "When you manage Liverpool you know the Manchester United job is gone," he said according to The Independent.