Monday, April 4, 2011

Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid

The Special One, the Portugeezer, whatever you wish to call him has never been anything but controversial. For that reason many will take delight in Real's defeat at the Bernebau on Saturday night by the less than glamorous Sporting Gijon. It was significant in two respects, firstly it brought to an end a run that may never be repeated, 150 (count them) home league games spread out over 9 years with 4 different clubs. It is a record that is hard to comprehend and a measure of the man. The second point is that any faint hopes (and they were indeed faint) of overtaking Barcelona in La Liga would now appear over. Stories regarding Mourinho's impending future at Real are now circulating with the issue of his fractious relationship with Jorge Valdano also coming to the fore.

For all the bluster and bravado, one thing has been constant in Mourinho's managerial career and that is success. What is also clear is that he is not and does not see himself ever as a long term appointment (for that reason he may be more suited to City than United), he is a hired gun plain and simple. Given Real Madrid's sustained short term policy towards managerial appointments, surely they should be a match made in heaven, so where has it all gone wrong?

The answer is that in reality it hasn't. After 30 rounds of La Liga, Real have amassed 73 points and lost only 3 matches. That is 7 points more than Sir Alex Ferguson has delivered so far this season at ManYoo whilst in the process playing a game more than Real. Their form has under any normal circumstances been that of champions, the problem is things aren't normal due to the brilliance of the current Barcelona team.

Mourinho cannot be held responsible for how fantastic Barcelona are. Yes he must shoulder the blame for Real's woeful 5-0 capitulation in the Nou Camp but I do not remember many people saying how terrible Madrid were that evening, they merely spoke about how incredible Barca were.

This blog is a fan of Mourinho and will make no bones about that but with a fantastic league record and Real into the quarter finals of the Champions League - the first time in many years, other than that 5-0 drubbing what has Mourinho really done wrong?

Real knew what they were getting with Mourinho. He is not always the easiest of people to deal with, he is confrontational bordering on rude or incredibly engaging when the situation dictates. His behaviour this year is entirely in line with everything we have seen before and Real's results are not poor, they are just not as good as Barcelona's. That regrettably is probably sufficient crime for the Madrid hierarchy to pull the trigger.

Whilst coming second best to Barcelona is not good enough for Real, it is no different in any major rivalry, AC and Inter, Spurs and Arsenal, ManYoo and Liverpool, Rangers and Celtic, Ajax and Feyenoord. Whilst Madrid would argue their stakes are much higher, to the protagonists in each instant they are not and the pressure is no less. If Real are going to fire Jose then who in all honesty do they think is going to make a better fist of beating Barcelona? If Wenger, Ferguson or Ottmar Hitzfeld had coached Real this season and not beaten Barca, would this have rendered them poor coaches suddenly? If Madrid had exercised more prudent and less reactionary policies in previous seasons, maybe they wouldn't have found themselves so far behind the Catalans that even an unprecedented outlay two summers ago - signing Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema and Xavi Alonso - couldn't fix - No Nonsense.