Jose Mourinho leaves Real Madrid at the end of the season, as everybody expected he would, following a season of discontent, public spats and underwhelming performances in a trophyless campaign. If Chelsea is to be his destination following his Madrid exit then he will add to the list of managers in the decade since Roman Abramovic took charge of the Blues, a club whose modern legacy began under ‘The Special One’. The list of departed managers at the Bernabeu extends longer then Chelsea’s does however, but do Mourinho’s achievements in Spain merit his tenure to be classed a success?
When President Florentino Perez called a press conference on Monday evening, it was almost certainly to announce the end of the relationship between Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho. It had been coming for many months and Perez’ announcement came as no surprise, almost as though the papers had finally been cleared in a messy, long strewn out divorce settlement. After 3 years of relative stability, something the club dearly lacked pre-Mourinho, the club now search for their 11th manager in the last decade, feeling they can do better than to remain with arguably the world’s best coach.
Brought to Madrid to capture ‘La Decima’ – the 10th European Cup for the club, Mourinho himself will rue falling at the penultimate stage three seasons in succession. In that respect he failed to achieve what he was hired to do. Domestically though Mourinho enjoyed a golden year in charge of Los Blancos, winning the title with a record number of points, either side of two tumultuous seasons, a feat that has dissolved from memory in the bubbling mess of the current season and one that could be eclipsed by Barcelona in two weeks time.
To ignore the 11/12 season though would be unfair on the man who has been criticised for the best part of 9 months now. It was a magnificent effort to reach a century of points and be so consistent in the league that year, but to dismantle Barcelona should surely earn more praise were it not for the woeful lack of progression this season. Mourinho, with one season of experience at the Bernabeu, managed to overhaul the best club side of the past 25 years over the course of 38 games, romping to a record points tally in the process, probably the hardest task in football management.
It was typical of the man; he managed something many others can only dream of – and that’s on their computer simulated games. In truth, winning the league was perhaps more difficult than the Champions League, and but for the imperious league challengers and some wayward penalties, Mourinho could have had the whole of Madrid beneath his feet.
Instead they remain on his back. Glory evaporated within an instant and the defence of the league became non-existent. In fact it became laughable by mid-October. The ire began to grow, players’ motivation – a key strength of Mourinho’s man management powers – dwindled and egos inflated. A club so often comprised of prima-donnas was deemed dissatisfactory under Mourinho’s tenure. Publicly Mourinho fought, his choice of words and team selections targeted to encourage the correct mentality from his players, but they repelled. Soon Mourinho became a public villain but he continued to fight until he crossed the line and dropped Iker Casillas. By then it was too late to repair with the season in disarray and a mutiny called for. Mourinho’s manipulation of his team’s psyche and the press had backfired badly.
It is too harsh to suggest that Mourinho’s spectacular tear-ups single-handedly eroded Madrid’s season this year but it didn’t improve it. The only reprieve would be to win the Spanish Cup or the Champions League but both only increased the hatred from the terraces.
His haul of three trophies is the highest of any Real Madrid manager since Vicente Del Bosque from 1999-2003 and his win % is the second highest in the club’s history at 72.16%, marginally behind the man he replaced, Manuel Pellegrini. But for Mourinho to be considered a Madrid legend would probably be too kind to the man.
Reclaiming not only the league but Madrid’s pride back from Barcelona was an astonishing achievement, but in doing so Mourinho spent in the fashion only an A-list celebrity knows how; he moulded a side that could only really claim to have achieved one thing in three years. He broke the world transfer record twice, bringing in Kaka and Ronaldo, and signed many others with the specific intent to make Madrid dominant once again.
Mourinho did return Real Madrid to the elite table of club sides, having failed in the knockout stage of the Champions League countless times prior to him coming in, and should be credited and praised to the highest extent for his achievements. However, this doesn’t mean he should be remembered as a great. He managed to make Real Spain’s leading club side – but it lasted for less than a year before Barcelona returned to the top. Mourinho only managed to take Madrid into the modern era from previously hiding in the shadows, but another man must now take them from the cusp of greatness and into history.