The one good thing about Jose Mourinho is, he’s never going to surprise you. Everybody knows what he is and what he’s capable of. His stint in Real Madrid is no different. If you’ve been following Jose Mourinho’s career, none of what happened at Real Madrid should have been a surprise. Chelsea fans should know him very very well. At Chelsea – he won titles, he was controversial, he was confrontational, he had issues with the captain, he had issues with the football director and he left in mutual consent. At Real Madrid – he won titles, he was controversial, he was confrontational, he had issues with the captain, he had issues with the football director and he left in mutual consent. Jose Mourinho is a very consistent man – in everything he does.
Jose never hid this love for Chelsea. He always wanted to come back to England and probably manage Chelsea because he thinks this is the ‘natural’ thing to happen. The rumours of Jose to Chelsea have been on for a couple of months now. Only in the last couple of weeks, I’ve really started believing that this could actually happen. The very possibility of Jose Mourinho returning to Chelsea has resulted in celebration and jubilation among the Chelsea fans. You can see his name being sung at the Stamford Bridge even after all these years and you see the euphoria in the social network as soon as the possibility of him joining Chelsea back arose. Chelsea fans want Jose Mourinho back.
Amidst all this, the long pending formality has indeed happened. Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid have agreed to part ways. The press conference was very carefully worded and left no room for certain usual doubts. Was this a sacking? No. This is no sacking. Was this based on performance? No. This is not. Was his time to be seen as a failure? No. Not at all. Perez did answer these questions quite clearly and also almost sounded very disappointed that Jose Mourinho had to leave Real Madrid. The long ensuing debate since the Copa Del Rey final is whether Jose Mourinho’s time at Real Madrid has been a success or not. Let’s look at it from two angles: (a) from Jose Mourinho’s perspective (b) from Real Madrid’s perspective. Only these two perspectives matter and anyone else’ just doesn’t matter. We are all by standers who are no party in the contract.
Jose Mourinho’s perspective: FAILURE. By his own admission, this has been the worst season of his career. That’s also because he has set such high standards for himself, even one trophyless season makes him say it’s the worst season of his career. For a man who has won major trophies at every country he has worked, this season was a low. Won the league, UEFA cup and champions league at Portugal, won back to back league titles in England, won the back to back league titles and champions league in Italy, and won the league in Spain – for an exceptional manager like Jose Mourinho, this was going to be his worst season. During his time at Real Madrid, he did manage several things that are very unexpected of a manager there. In Real Madrid, the manager was never a powerful figure. Real Madrid have this habit of putting in a squad and then finding someone to coach that squad while he works under the directives of the football director, chairman and even the captain and players to some extent. Jose Mourinho was never going to play this game. He is what he is.
Jose bought the players he wanted to. It was quite clear that he was in charge. After just one season in Real Madrid, Jorge Valdano was shown the door. That’s not a simple political battle to win at Real Madrid. That’s a massive win. True to his stlye, he pulled up players where they didn’t perform as expected – didn’t matter if that was Iker Casillas. Unsurprisingly, I’m firmly on Jose’ side in his treatment of Casillas. Many think Casillas won finally. No, until the day Jose is the manager, Casillas will be on the bench. Nobody, just nobody, could pressurise Jose into picking Iker Casillas in the starting line-up. Jose always was particular in ensuring that the dressing room is fully behind him and treats any dividing or negative elements quite strongly. Casillas was dealt with.
The one key mistake was probably getting a bit complacent in the first half of this season. It’s my theory that Pep leaving Barcelona did not help Jose. Undoubtedly, Jose’ motivation levels did come down as Pep left Barcelona. Jose always needs an antagonist. He loves a strong opponent. Someone who’s worthy of giving him a good fight. When Pep left, both the team and Jose probably did get a bit complacent and started the season very badly and finally paid the price. Even an extraordinary second half season from Real Madrid wasn’t enough. Toppling Pep’s Barca was his key target. In Jose’ defence, most top managers wouldn’t even have tried that or even if they had, wouldn’t have had much success. Jose, by taking the Real Madrid job, knowing that he had to bring down the powerful Pep’s Barca, had taken a massive risk. Jose is a risk-taker. Some people would try to move mountains. Jose wants to move volcanos. Such is his nature, he wants the high-profile jobs, high-profile challenges and high-profile risks. And he delivered. It took only two seasons for Jose to brilliantly defeat Barca in the league and to top it all win the league right there at Camp Nou. Fairytale finish.
Most Real Madrid fans would agree that Jose Mourinho gave the manager’s position a real authority in Real Madrid. It was long overdue at Madrid and it needed Jose to do that and not many could have done that.
Real Madrid’s perspective: SUCCESS. Real Madrid have improved tremendsouly and have finally have got what they were missing all along: BELIEF. Until Jose was there, Real Madrid were just pushovers and also-rans and at best an ‘almost’ team. Jose gave them a real belief that they can win trophies and they can topple Barcelona. Consider this:
While these are all interesting facts, the last one is probably the most important. When Real Madrid lost 0-5 to Barcelona in his first season, many thought, he’s never going to succeed against Barcelona with Real Madrid. Then he went on to prove them wrong in an emphatic fashion by winning the La Liga by breaking all Spanish records and by beating what’s considered to be the best Barcelona team of all time. I’m sure no other manager would have managed this feat. Many could have come closer. Many could have won the hearts. But only one could have beaten that Barcelona team in such emphatic fashion and win the title in April and at Camp Nou. The record of winning four and drawing three in the last eight clasicos surely show how much Real Madrid have improved and how Jose has managed to remove the psychological barrier that Real Madrid players had over beating Barcelona. Now it’s changed. Last season, Barcelona did not want to play Real Madrid. They knew that their domination was slipping away. Jose’ biggest achievement at Real Madrid was to bring this belief in the minds of Real Madrid’s players that they can beat Barca and proving that with the results.
Until Jose Mourinho, as a Chelsea fan, I never took Real Madrid seriously. They were a team that consistently under-acheived like England in international stage – big names but you can count on them to fail where mattered. Teams were picked based on star value and not based on form or tactics. They struggled to get out of group stages in champions league and at best were getting beaten at first knock out rounds. Weren’t they beaten by Alcoron, a segunda B division team by a 4-0
scoreline in Copa Del Rey. That was the Real Madrid I knew before Jose Mourinho – a decade of underperformance, underachievement and failure. They had all the money and all the investment during this period but still underperformance, underachievement and failure.
Under Jose, Real Madrid earned the reputation back of being a favourite to win every competition they entered. You only need to look at the champions league odds for Real Madrid over the last 10 years to see how much they have become favourites to win. This is a massive improvement, in my eyes. His job was not over. It’s cut short abruptly. It’s cut short not because he cannot deal with Real Madrid’s demands or nor because Real Madrid are unhappy with the progress. This was cut short due to various non-football reasons – (a) Media (b) Casillas. Media: Spanish media never embraced Mourinho. And you know what, Mourinho gives you right back what you give him. Jose treated the media the same way they treated him. Unfortunately for him, he is just a football manager while they controlled what people saw, heard and read. No one can win against the media. I’m sure he’d have known that too well. But that doesn’t mean he was going to lose. He was being called Nazi, Satan and all sorts of names while he was there. And he was Portuguese as well. Most of his detractors were going to be detractors no matter what happened. But hats off to Mourinho for treating the journos exactly the way they deserve to be treated.
Casillas: Youth team product. Life long Madridista. Club captain. Euro winning captain. World cup winning captain. Benched. Another first for Jose. No other manager was going to bench Iker Casillas at Real Madrid while he’s fit. Nobody. No matter how poor he’s on and off the pitch, no one would even fathom the idea of dropping him and facing the consequences. Once again, this is a battle that Jose entered probably knowing very well where this is going to lead him to. But the consequences don’t matter. Jose is a big believer that he, and no else but him, is in charge. Firstly, he wasn’t happy with Casillas’ form and later he wasn’t happy with his attitude. He dealt with Casillas like how any self-respecting manager worth his salt should have. This is a very predictable end to Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid career. We all knew he was never going to change. We all knew he would get into controversies and altercations. We all knew he will challenge anything he will have to. We all knew he would win trophies. Everything went as per the
script. There’s no surprise whatsoever.
Why is all this important here in this Chelsea blog? It’s very important to understand this man. It’s very important to see the patterns in his career. So you don’t be surprised when he joins your club. So you know what you’re taking on and what you should expect. Jose brings intensity, belief and pride and what he had done with Chelsea in his first stint has stood with us for more than half a decade. Jose doesn’t make a lot of friends because of his personality. And you come to know about these ‘enemies’ in moments like these. You can see how many are keen to stick it in during his worse moment. Kicking a man when he’s down is media’s bread and butter. If you know Jose very well, you will know that this set back will only make his come back with more desire and hunger. He’s a wounded animal now. For this reason, I’m sure this is the perfect time to hire Jose as your manager. I’m very hopeful that he joins Chelsea. As far as I’m concerned, I’d give my right arm to get Jose Mourinho as the next Chelsea manager. For me, Jose is the best football manager ever. And he’s spent only one-third of the time a certain Scottish manager has managed. Let’s bring back The Special One!