Mourinho praises Benzema’s progress
Jose Mourinho is taking the credit for Karim Benzema’s recent
progress at Real Madrid.
The France striker struggled to establish himself as a regular
starter after joining in July 2009 from Lyon, and his departure
from the club seemed certain earlier this season.
But Benzema has managed to turn his fortunes around, scoring
eight goals in his past five games.
”Everybody can see that he is a better player,” Mourinho said
in an interview with L’Equipe newspaper published Monday. ”He’s
improved because his coach is a demanding one, and has asked for a
different attitude from him – both at training and on the
Benzema signed a six-year deal worth ?35 million with Madrid and
had a disappointing first season with the Spanish giants, scoring
only eight goals in the league and struggling for a place in the
starting lineup, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain the
Mourinho, who joined Real after winning the Champions League
with Inter last season, said Madrid officials had taken the wrong
approach with the 23-year-old striker.
”There was almost an obsession about him,” Mourinho said. ”He
had to become a great player, an important player at Real. For
that, they were almost tempted to make his life easier: ‘OK, you
don’t play very well, but you will play. You don’t work a lot but
you have to play because we cannot block the progress of a talent
that cost so many millions.”
Mourinho said he took the opposite view and persuaded Benzema
that his success would only come through hard work and
”I won’t give you anything,” Mourinho told the striker. ”If
you don’t win, you will drown. But if you win, you’ll come out of
Benzema was severely criticized by the Spanish press earlier
this season and newspaper Marca even wrote ”He’s Dead” after the
Frenchman failed to impress in a Copa del Rey match against a third
Real then signed striker Emmanuel Adebayor from Manchester City
on loan in January, with the move seen as new proof of Mourinho’s
lack of confidence in Benzema.
”A lot of people thought I wanted a third striker because I
didn’t like Benzema,” Mourinho said. ”But I wanted a third
striker because I needed one. I definitely didn’t want to make
things more difficult for Karim or brush him aside.”
Benzema has scored 21 goals in all competition with Madrid this
season. He also carried his form into France’s Euro 2012 qualifying
campaign, winning the support of coach Laurent Blanc.
”He’s improved because he convinced himself that it’s important
for him,” Mourinho said. ”I didn’t give him anything. The result
is that today Karim has not become a big boy, but a man.”