Jose Mourinho: “Today, tomorrow, and always, I have Barcelona in my heart.” A decade later the ‘special one’ begins his ‘Real’ quest.
Jose Mourinho’s master plan is about to be unleashed as he embarks on a quest to deliver Florentino Perez’ dream of bridal success. The ‘special one’ couldn’t have wrote a more beautiful script as he steered Internazionale to their first European Cup since 1965 and of all places to cement this piece of legacy in his ever growing football archive, the Santiago Bernabeu, the home of Real Madrid.
A little over a week later after hoisting the famous cup above his head on the hallowed turf of Los Blancos, Mourinho had rubber stamped his move to the Spanish Capital. Following a handshake or two with Mr Perez and the legendary Alfredo di Stefano in the Bernabeu’s complex the Portuguese tactician sat beside an old adversary in the form of Jorge Valdano in front of the world’s media.
Valdano, once being Jose’ harshest critic now stands beside him as his new boss. If ever there was poetic justice for Mourinho to prove just how valuable his stock is then the sight of him and Valdano sharing a handshake spoke volumes. Real Madrid now recognise that he is possibly the one and only man in world football to steer the famous whites back to the summit of world football.
With Guti and Raul departing the football club you get the sense of a fresh breeze airing its way through in the Spanish capital. Two magnificent players who have delivered so much for their beloved club are now seeking pastures new, like their former club. Mourinho’s arrival is as symbolic as you can get in the Spanish realm of football. His association with Barcelona has deteriorated so drastically since the turn of the Millennium, he is now possibly the most hated figure on Catalonia.
Something he seems to thrive upon especially after he told Luis Figo in Italy:
“You should thank me – you’re no longer the most hated man in Catalonia.”
He has rankled The Blaugrana ever since the infamous last sixteen clash back in 2005 when he was manager of Chelsea as he accused referee Anders Frisk of having half time discussions with the then Barca coach Frank Rijkaard. His decision to take over the realm at Madrid is just another of collective issues which have angered the Catalonian faithful. Long gone are the days where he stood on a balcony at the Plaza Sant Juame in 1997 devoting his love for the club:
“Today, tomorrow and always I have Barcelona in my heart.”
“Hoy, mañana y siempre con el Barça en el Corazon.”
Who could have predicted that thirteen years later a highly regarded member of the Barcelona setup was to tarnish any affection he had deservedly gained during his stint in Spain and then end up coaching their bitter rivals Madrid. It is certainly a magnificent story in whatever context you dare to look at.
Mourinho’s man management is without a doubt the best in world football. You only have to assess the love and devotion that is publicly shown between him and his peers. He is loved wherever he goes. Porto, Chelsea, Inter – all of his players played for him – they would have bled for him. It is amazing how he can create such steady relationships with his players.
Some manager choose to distance themselves with their playing staff where as he treats them as his children. It will be fascinating to see how he manages with the star studded talent at Real. Will the likes of Ronaldo and Kaka take to him as they did for Sir Alex Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti at their former homes?
The way Real have handled their coaches since the sacking of Vicente del Bosque in the spring of 2003 – after he won yet another La Liga title – is circus like. Mourinho is his own man and will not be undermined by anybody. It is certain that tension and conflict will occur if the hierarchy begin to mingle in his day to day activities. He is the coach of the team, and as far as he’s concerned it’s his team. Florentino Perez’s power will not deter Jose’s intent on being solely in charge of the on field activities.
Surely the best coach in the world will be given time to build his dynasty? So many times the club have dismissed their managers following a couple of bad results or not playing the particular brand of football they like. Mourinho’s side are efficient. They are not here to entertain, they are here to win. This is where the higher powers in the club have had to take one or the other.
Playing beautiful football doesn’t guarantee success and the Portuguese tactician will be the first to point that out. Internazionale’s football may not have been poetic in terms of caressing the ball along the ground like a paint brush on a canvas, but it was so much more effective. Winning a domestic and European treble is the pinnacle of club football. It signifies dominance at home and on the continent – Inter being the first Italian club to do so.
Madrid has its particular brand of football but a lack of silverware, particularly in the Champions League is ever so more important now – more so than it’s ever been. The competition which adorns imagery from the last fifty years and predominantly focuses on the greats of di Stefano and Puskas is cemented into the clubs DNA. It is their competition in their eyes, and anybody else winning it is seen as a taste of displeasure.
Mourinho is as hungry as ever. He wants to be the inaugural Triple Crown champion of winning the three big leagues in Europe as well as surpassing Ottmar Hitzfeld and Ernet Happel as the only man to win the European Cup with three different clubs. If he is to do this with Madrid in the next four years is something you wouldn’t bet against.
Jose is back in Spanish football, but not with the club who played a significant part on putting his name on the map. Mourinho is the first Galactico coach in Madrid’s history, and will be their last as there is nobody else quite like him. Will the worlds most famous coach steer the most spectacular club to greatness? We shall see.