Mourinho refuses to be drawn on his Real Madrid future
Jose Mourinho arrived bang on time. At 9.20pm on Saturday night he emerged from the tunnel at the Santiago Bernabeu and walked out on to the pitch, alone. There were still 40 minutes to go before kick-off and there were few people in the stadium, except for the mass of cameras that awaited him.
He stood there for a while, looked around, and went back inside. As plebiscites go, it was not up to much.
When fans chanted his name during the previous game in the Copa del Rey, others had whistled their displeasure, prompting Mourinho to throw down a challenge. On the eve of Saturday’s Madrid derby against Atletico he announced he would appear on the pitch at 9.20pm. Should anyone want to whistle him, that was the time. They could whistle away.
And so, at 9.20pm, there he was. The stadium, though, was virtually empty.
Mourinho added that if fans wanted to boo him he preferred them to do it before the game and not affect the team. He also insisted that there is “no story” when it comes to his future.
But there was a story. The headline on the front cover of the sports newspaper Marca yesterday morning declared: “Divorce in sight”. Inside, a broken heart: Mourinho on one side, Real’s president Florentino Perez on the other. Stories of this ilk can be mistaken and indeed mischievous, not to mention wrong, but Mourinho knows that they are not published in isolation.
The relationship between Perez and Mourinho, ran the article, has broken down. The opening line to the article was to the point: “Jose Mourinho will not be Real Madrid coach next season.” The media has long since turned on Mourinho, sometimes viciously so; it has long been clear that he has not enjoyed himself in Spain as he did in England. He considers his nationality to be a problem for the Spanish.
“Attacking me has become the national sport,” he says.
He refused to be drawn on the subject yesterday. Asked about the Marca story during the press conference prior to Real’s final Champions League game, against Ajax, he replied: “No, no, no . . . Why don’t you do a press conference with the journalist who wrote the story? Organise a dinner and speak to him. I will not say a word and the president won’t either. I am not going to contribute to this.”
Pushed on the issue of his relationship with Perez, he responded: “Ask the president.” But would he be there next season? “That is not a story,” he said. “My future is that tomorrow I will take charge of my 101st game in the Champions League.”
Mourinho has also been positioning himself, with Chelsea and Manchester City potential destinations, while in a documentary screened on ITV last night Alex Ferguson said Mourinho would be more than capable of succeeding him at Manchester United. Again, the Portuguese batted the question away. “That’s what friends are like,” Mourinho said. “They always say nice things about you, they are always on your side.”