Now that he’s finally in the job, it’s time for Jose Mourinho to deliver at Real Madrid. As well as improving on ‘Los Merengues’ recent awful Champions League record, he will also be expected to overcome one of the best Barcelona sides of all time.
With his track record, and recent success at Inter Milan, you wouldn’t bet against Mourinho living up to the hype. However, no matter how successful he is at the Bernabeu, Mourinho’s stay is likely to be short, for a number of reasons.
Real Madrid Doesn’t Do Long-Term
Mourinho hasn’t been brought in to build a side over a number of years. He and his team will need to hit the ground running or could he leave via the same door shown to Hiddink, Pellegrini and Champions League winners Heynckes and Del Bosque. Incredibly, Del Bosque’s spell of just under 4 seasons in charge (1999-2003) is the longest of any Madrid boss in the last 30 years.
Neither Does Jose
Less than three years at FC Porto, just over three at Chelsea, and a couple of seasons at Inter – it’s hard to see Jose having any sort of Ferguson or Wenger-style reign at one club. It’s already been reported that he has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for free at the end of any season. His approach seems to be – go in, make an impact quickly and leave once the job’s done. With two Champions League wins and league titles in three countries, it’s difficult to argue with his methods. Anyway, everybody knows where he really wants to be.
English Premier League
You have to hand it to him – only Mourinho could use two of the world’s biggest clubs as stopping-off points on the way back to his preferred destination. He seems to be obsessed with English football. He talks about the fans and the stadiums, how much his family love the country and while in Italy was regularly quoted on his thoughts about the English game. He even filmed a commercial for Sky TV, promoting their Premier League coverage.
While he won’t admit it, part of Mourinho’s admiration for all things English stems from the way he is treated by the media. He’s not just a football manager – he’s a celebrity, who gets an easy time at press conferences (which are often entertaining) and is adored by many English newspapers and TV channels. Contrast that with the difficult relationship that he had with journalists in Italy, who over the years had seen the likes of Trappatoni, Capello and Lippi. To them, Mourinho was no ‘special one’, rather a talented coach with a big mouth. Mourinho did himself no favours during his time in Serie A, and regularly courted controversy, including verbal attacks on Claudio Ranieri, comments about Sulley Muntari’s religious beliefs, and allegedly pushing an Italian reporter.
Yes, good old Marca, the Spanish ‘newspaper’ which regularly acts as a mouthpiece for the Bernabeu hierarchy, and who campaigned tirelessly for Mourinho to be recruited. Jose is their golden boy at the moment, the hero who has ridden into town to see off big bad Barcelona, but that could quickly change. Not only are results a requirement, Real Madrid teams are also expected to win with a certain amount of style. While nobody could question Mourinho’s tactical ability, or his motivational skills, the teams he sends out could often be described as at best, cautious, and at worst, defensive. Will fans and senior management accept success, no matter how it is achieved, or will Mourinho have to adapt to fit in with his new surroundings?
Jose’s not exactly shy and has previous when it comes to run-ins with presidents, directors of football and players. In Madrid the possibilities are endless. Imagine the reaction from Mourinho if Florentino Perez decides to involve himself in team affairs. Surely he will be smart enough to keep his nose out? Maybe not.
Then there’s Director General Jorge Valdano, who had a pop at Mourinho’s Chelsea side after a Champions League tie in 2006. He looked like a nervous wreck at Mourinho’s introductory press conference and even went out of his way to tell the assembled media that he and Jose had no issues with each other. Give it a couple of months…
Jose also has previous with Cristiano Ronaldo. The pair had words via the media in 2007 and, while both have been saying lots of nice things about each other in recent weeks, it will be interesting to see what happens if Jose decides it’s best for the team that his fellow countryman plays in a more withdrawn role. Will he accept this as Samuel Eto’o did at Inter?
It should be a match made in heaven – one of the world’s biggest clubs and one the best coaches in the game. However, behind the hype it’s clear that it’s not going to be easy for Mourinho in Madrid. On the pitch he will certainly find La Liga a tougher proposition than Serie A, where his Inter side still ended up champions despite doing their best to hand the title to Roma.
He will also have to deal with off-field issues that are part of life at the Bernabeu and it’s these issues that could result in Mourinho’s time at Real Madrid being brief.
However, as he showed in Italy, brief can also mean successful.