Mourinho's days in Madrid look numbered irrespective of how Real fare
Real Madrid goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas with whom Mourinho has had a fractious relationship. photographs: dominique faget/jasper juinen/afp/getty images/juan medina/reuters
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho looks on during last week's La Liga clash against Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. photographs: dominique faget/jasper juinen/afp/getty images/juan medina/reuters
Sergio Ramos, who has also fallen out with the controversial manager. photographs: dominique faget/jasper juinen/afp/getty images/juan medina/reuters
Early last December, Real Madrid hosted city rivals Atlético de Madrid in a league game at the Bernabéu stadium. Forty minutes before kick-off, Real Madrid’s manager José Mourinho got ready to walk out of the tunnel for a pre-arranged date with the club’s fans. Annoyed at their jeering of his name earlier that the week during a Spanish Cup tie, he challenged them to come out on Saturday at 9.20pm and boo him before the game instead of during it.
His players derided him. “Are you ready to go? Have you got your make-up on? Is it the premiere of a new version of Jesus Christ Superstar?”
He scuttled out. The stadium, however, was practically empty. The fans in it were indifferent. Mourinho stood on the edge of the pitch for a while, looked around, and then disappeared back down the tunnel.
The club’s president, Florentino Pérez looked on in disgust from the directors’ box.
“Mourinho’s cutting his own throat,” was his assessment.
The following morning Marca, Spain’s main sports newspaper ran with a headline: “Divorce in sight” on its front page, alluding to the breakdown in the relationship between Pérez and his manager.
Pérez is a construction magnate and one of Spain’s most powerful men. He is disdainful of football coaches. He never deigned to speak to Manuel Pellegrini, Mourinho’s predecessor, beyond August in the Chilean’s sole season in charge.
Real Madrid has a history of treating its managers with contempt. Vicente del Bosque, who has led Spain to World Cup and European Championship triumphs, was fired the day after securing a league title. He found out the news from a journalist in a television studio before going on air.
Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes was guillotined after delivering Real Madrid a Champions League trophy in 1998.
“It is very curious and hard to explain that Jupp Heynckes won a Champions League title after 32 years and still had to leave the club, but the club is like that,” says Manolo Sanchís, captain of that European Cup-winning team and an analyst on Televisión Española.
“It’s a very demanding club. It is very hard to live for a long time with a club as complicated as this one. It is a machine so big, so powerful and so merciless that sometimes in its way it often ends up trampling an occasional life.”
Pérez has dismissed six coaches in three seasons. Mourinho is in his third season in charge, which is an indication of the power the Portuguese has acquired.
Only Fabio Capello in his first reign as manager of Real Madrid in the 1996/’97 season wielded as much authority, but he lacked Mourinho’s shamelessness in style.
“Capello had a lot of similarities with Mourinho,” says Santiago Segurola, Spain’s foremost football writer, “but he also had something that made him more human. He was a manager who looked for fewer excuses than Mourinho, who didn’t need to corrupt everything that surrounds football.”
Pérez, in a desperate bid to unseat a rampant Barcelona side, turned a blind eye to Mourinho’s belligerent antics in his first season in charge, epitomised by the eye-gouging of Tito Vilanova, now Barcelona manager, in the Spanish Supercup final of August 2011.