The row between José Mourinho and Manolo Preciado looks as if it might rumble on. The Real Madrid boss had accused the Sporting Gijón manager of fielding a weakened team against Barcelona in September and gifting them the match. Yet after Real’s late winner in El Molinón at the weekend Preciado seems to have lost his head completely.
According to respected daily newspaper Marca, the Sporting boss supposedly took the defeat so badly he was involved in a bust-up in the club car park after the game. Apparently when he went to collect his car the Real Madrid team bus was about to leave for the airport. Witnesses said Preciado then made an obscene gesture and threw a plastic bottle at the vehicle – which ending up hitting a woman – before insulting members of the Madrid coaching staff. Somebody with him was then alleged to have shouted: “Barcelona will put five past you!” The Real contingent couldn’t believe what they were seeing and immediately ordered the closure of the doors and windows in case the situation worsened. The situation was finally calmed down when stadium security officials intervened.
In contrast, the version given by Preciado the morning afterwards differed somewhat. He told the programme ‘El Partido de las 12’ on Cadena COPE radio he was provoked by one of the Real Madrid contingent, whom he didn’t recognise. It seems the person he was referring to was fitness coach Rui Faria, who it was claimed had got off the bus and shouted to him: “A Segunda! A Segunda! (Down to the Second Division!). Preciado also said the events were witnessed by Real Madrid’s Sporting Director, Miguel Pardeza. In addition, he also accused José Mourinho of making a gesture with his hand raised and two fingers in the air, which could have been interpreted in two ways – it was either a victory salute or he was agreeing with Faria.
Either way, if the Portuguese did indeed make a sign then it appears to have tipped Preciado over the edge. Whilst Mourinho has courted controversy wherever he has been, Manolo has become a popular figure in Spanish football with his Albert Einstein looks and dishevelled appearance. His touchline antics with his constant gesturing, panting and protesting to the referee have made for decent entertainment over the years. He’s also known as a man who is always ready with a smile and a joke, though he has had his fair share of tragedy in his personal life. Having lost his wife to cancer after a painful illness his 15-year old son was killed in a motorbike accident not long afterwards, so it’s no surprise the press has come down on his side; if Mourinho isn’t careful he’s in danger of becoming the most reviled man in Spanish football.
However, Emilio Butragueño, Real Madrid legend and now Director of Institutional Relations at the club, leapt to the defence of his club’s manager. “I think there is always respect among professionals, that’s my perception”he said. “Mourinho always shows his colleagues respect and I don’t think he is a bad person. He has his own way and when asked a question says what he thinks. He is somebody that wants to win and having been at big clubs handles these situations well, no doubt about it. We appointed him to win trophies, not to make friends, and in the last few months he has shown how great a coach he is.”
‘El Buitre’ is well aware that anything which happens at Real Madrid is always magnified tenfold, and hopes the incident in the car park can be forgotten and people can move on. “I didn’t see it”he said, “but we can all lose our tempers at any given moment. It’s happened to us all. What went on is in the past and we must concentrate on what the future holds. We all learn from our mistakes”he added.