By DANE ARLAUCKAS
Could it have ended any other way? The author of the script may have envisioned some sort of Hollywood Romance, but in the end this blockbuster match made of money seemed more destined for an Amityville Horror flick. The Special One’s reign at the Bernabeu comes to a screeching halt with a supernova sized bust up, that leaves everyone with a sour taste similar to that of a bitter divorce.
Jose Mourinho’s arrival to Madrid was welcomed with high hopes and even higher expectations. The Portugese manager had just won his second Champions League Title, and made a shock move to the capital city, leaving Italian giants Inter Milan high and dry with his sights set on becoming Madrid’s Messiah. He was going to be that Special One who would return Los Blancos to the glory land, a place they haven’t visited since the turn of the millennium, Kings of the Continent… Champions League. Whispers of the highly sought after 10th European title soon became shouts. He came into Galicia like a newly crowned king who had earned nothing but the title of prince.
Before we get into anything else lets talk about the ugly, but increasingly common trend we see in the transfer world where not only players but coaches are now able to dictate which colors they will pledge their allegiance. Mourinho is fed up with Madrid and will now toss his contract into the shredder, and now he will carry on to London. Madrid are no alterboys in this matter. They are a highly desirable club, and they use that to their advantage (Cristiano Ronaldo). But it gets to a point where it becomes shameful to the sport. Players refusing to play (Carlos Tevez), coaches missing games to meet with potential new employers (Harry Redknapp)? Agents now they are the genies of soccer, and they let their clients think they have unlimited rubs on the magic lamp.
La Decima. The Tenth. Madrid fans have been feverishly chasing after La Decima, but it has proved to be as difficult a hill to climb as winning the first nine. Real Madrid is the most successful club team in Europe. If there’s no Madridista currently around to let you know that, look it up. Thirty-one League Cups, nine European Cups. The numbers can’t stretch the truth. But the city of Madrid has been in a desperate drought for Europe’s top title. The Special One was supposed to be the desert oasis that cures the thirst, but instead it was just a mirage.
With a squad worth about as much as space ship, the Madrilenos needed someone Special on the thrusters. The Chamartin outfit had gone crumbling out of the quarters of Champions League without even a whiff the final since winning it at the turn of century. Madrid splashed major cash to reinforce their their arsenal to make sure they would contend with the likes of Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.
So where did it all go wrong?
Madrid had been in a rut. And not just any rut, this particular one came at a time when arch rivals and mortal enemies Barcelona were enjoying their most successful stretch in club history and perhaps any club’s history. Second best in league, far from best in Europe, and even farther from the amount of success Los Blancos had grown nearly numb to in the 20th century.
To Mourinho’s credit they did eventually climb and conquer the Everest named Messi. But it came too late. Ronaldo appeared to have edged mighty Lionel, if only by a hair. Madrid’s back line looked to have solved the jigsaw of the tiki taca.
My buddies and I are big Madrid supporters. I grew up in Madrid, a couple of the other guys are from Spain. The rest have been transformed into Madridistas from outlets such as FIFA 2013, Youtube videos and brilliant broadcasts provided by Ray Hudson and Phil Schone of Madrid games every weekend. Coming into this season we were pumped. A sluggish start to La Liga left the Whites with a 10-point deficit before the Christmas break, all but giving the Blaugrana the title. Disappointing, sure. But it did allow the most successful club in European history to focus entirely on their estranged obsession… Champions League.
So this was the year right? Our crew of Madridistas were set. Obviously our last few bar choices were what plagued the Royal Whites these last few years. They weren’t working out and we needed a change. We had our lucky Champions League bar picked out, O’Brions in Mount Pleasant. We had Ronaldo on the gas and Mourinho at the helm. We had Barca in the rearview, and we had nothing that could get in our way.
But we forgot about one thing. THE GERMANS!!!! Bayern Munich, obviously a squad that pack plenty of punch. Clearly evident with the thrashing of Barcelona. But Borussia Dortmund? Oh my, we all better watch out for the Germans next year in Rio. If they haven’t etched their name on the Cup just yet, the scriptors should at least have the foresight to tell them to start looking at fonts.
Clearly Germany was the vastly superior country this year. An all-German final had Deutschland celebrating Octoberfest in late spring , all the while taking down the two Spanish giants that everyone had pinpointed at the top of the European beanstock.
Shocker! And to think if Malaga didn’t dissolve in the last few minutes in the second leg of the Quarters, Madrid would have most certainly beat their La Liga rivals, and pushed on to the Final.
Madrid were ousted by an Polish assassin named Lewandowski. A double-digit lag in La Liga forced Los Blancos to put the pursuit of Spanish title 32 on hold. Not the dream season me, my buddies, Mourinho, Ronaldo or Florentino expected. Tensions at the Bearnabeu and in Madrid ran higher and more than the chicken wire at Alcatraz.
Even if Madrid did win it all this year, I don’t think that would have been enough to make Mourinho want to stay. The Portuguese coach has a knack for leaving before seeing his contract through. When he left Inter, the men mourned, women wept, and hunger strikes almost shut down Italian dairy industry. In Spain he will be missed like a bad hangover from a good rioja.
And that’s from top to bottom. After three years even billionaire and Galactico Executive Producer Florentino Perez had to swallow his pride and admit that his Special plan to bring Mourinho to Madrid was a flop. Perez seemed visibly dejected at the press conference, but there looked to be a bit of relief. Perez and the rest of the club appeared to be fed up with having to defend the image of the Royal Whites after it had been blemished repeatedly by the Portuguese head-man’s actions.
Mourinho comes from a different era of coaching than that of Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger. The Special One has picked up the label as a bit of a mercenary. Bouncing from country to country, albeit successfully, instead of building a long-lasting legacy like the greats of yesteryear.
Mourinho is a genius. There is no questioning that. He is a fantastic coach, a master of tactics, and he could undoubtedly be one of the best psychologists not to be listed in the phone book. So when it came to planning his exit from the capital city, The Special One concocted a route of bridges to cross and burn.
Jose is a journalist’s dream. With that in mind you would think Madrid based papers Marca and AS would have welcomed him with open arms. Let’s not forget the epic battles he and Pep Guardiola would get into when it seemed like there was a Clasico. The papers were certainly never short of print when it came to Mou. But it’s a fickle business, journalism. And the Spanish press has a way of turning on you quicker one of the Housewives of Wisteria Lane. Even when things were OK, he would go lengthy periods delegating press conferences to his assistant Aitor Karanka. It made more news than the games would.
This created a divide in the Madridismo faithful. As the media turned on Mou, so did the fans. You could hear the jeers over the television when Mourinho’s name would be announced on the loud speaker at the Bernabeu. Mobs would wait around the training ground parking lot to heckle Mourinho. I’m not sure Mourinho felt at ease in Madrid, but he was going to make sure this was going to be the last year directing Los Blancos.
One way to most definitive ways to ensure an abrupt exit from Real Madrid is to wage war with the Madrid Hierarchy. First, Mourinho went at it with former Director of Football Jorge Valdano for questioning the selection of striker Gonzalo Higuain over Karim Benzema. Of course his clashes with second captain Sergio Ramos had been well documented. The Portuguese coach made no secret who he thought was responsible for the loss to Sevilla this year. And of course benching icon and Club Captain, Iker Casillas. There was a period of time when Iker was unavailable due to a broken hand. But the Spanish keeper was more than fit for Champions League games against Dortmund, and the Copa del Rey final vs. Athletico Madrid.
This was certainly a slap in the face, but then Mou took to the press and told them he wished he had replacement keeper Diego Lopez from the start of his time at Madrid. Diego Lopez? Really? He was playing at Getafe before Casillas went down. And all of the sudden he is ready to rank a keeper who plays for a team sponsored by Burger King, ahead of a World Cup Champion? It was so bad in fact, Ramos and Casillas went to Florentino with an ultimatum, “Mourinho leaves or we do.”
Not to mention the handful of controversies that blanketed the Mourinho era at Real Madrid. Inevitably, we were going to have to talk about he infamous eye gouge on now-Head Coach of Barcelona Tito Villanova. This is a subject that Madrid fans tend to sidestep. It was a despicable act and even the most fervent Madridista will still look at that image and cringe.
Conflict has never flown too far from The Special One’s nest, especially when it comes to other coaches. Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger threatened legal action after Mourinho slandered the Gunners coach by labeling him a voyeur. Then in an ultimate act of disrespect, Mourinho went after former Bernabeu Boss Malaga Pellegrini, claiming if he got the axe from the Madrid touchline he wouldn’t end up at a team like Malaga. Slighting the Chilean and Malaga in one fell swoop, a team, mind you, that came closer to beating Borussia Dortmund than Madrid did this year.
But Pellegrini will have his say. If all goes to plan it should set up an interesting match-up next season. Mourinho will be the Chelsea boss while Manuel Pelegrini is expected to make a move to Manchester City over the summer.
But if you ask me, and you ask a majority of Madridistas, the biggest problem with Mourinho was the transfusion of his attitude into the squad. Early in his tenure it was evident Los Blancos had grown envious with the success of their rivals, and frustrated with their own lack of form. And when things didn’t go right, Mourinho was the first to blame the referees. One thing I have always said, is when you look for excuses you will find excuses.
Madrid couldn’t unlock Barcelona, and Madrid’s players allowed their emotions to get the best of them. When not blaming his players, many post-loss press conferences served as a platform for an unofficial critique of the officials. This attitude resonated through his team both in the media and on the pitch. They had turned into to whiners and babies. It was embarrassing to watch, and worst of all it brought shame to the club. Madrid is too proud of a club to be flailing and flocking referees every time a foul is called into question. Thankfully, that fad ended.
The season ended only hours ago, and Mourinho’s name is already stitched over that of Rafa Benitez in the pilots seat at Stamford Bridge. The Special One’s time did see its share of success, in the end the goal was never achieved. and some might say the bad outweighed the good in the last three years. It seems Carlo Ancelloti is the next one. Either way I think we all can hope Real Madrid get a chance to play Chelsea at least once next year