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Real Madrid’s Barça jinx leaves Mourinho facing wrath of Bernabéu

The Portuguese coach desperately needs to beat Barcelona in order to restore his reputation among fans and players.


José Mourinho has finally arrived. A year and half after he touched down in the Spanish capital, the only Real Madrid manager to have his name chanted at the Santiago Bernabéu was booed by his own supporters during Sunday’s league win against Athletic Bilbao.

Boos and whistles aimed at their own team are nothing new for supporters at the Bernabéu. Many a manager and player has befallen the same fate, but it was a first for Mourinho – who has up until now enjoyed huge support from the Madridista faithful – and the huge fallout from last week’s Copa del Rey quarter final against Barcelona rumbles on.

It was all smiles in training only a week ago, but as his reign at Madrid has shown, that is almost always the case until his team play Barcelona. A lone victory in the Copa del Rey final is all he has to show for nine attempts at defeating the Catalan side.

The extremely defensive line-up last week against Barça did not go down well but Madrid started brightly and had they won the game, there would have been no fallout. Instead, not only did Madrid lose but they were impotent in front of their own fans.

Pepe’s brash style of play and specifically his stamp on the hand of Lionel Messi caught the attention of the world’s press. Many observers stated he should be punished by his club and some even asserted that he shouldn’t be allowed to wear the Madrid shirt again. He issued a videoed apology but his claims it was “unintentional” did not wash.

Worse was to come, though, as attention turned to Mourinho. On Sunday morning, with the team preparing at a hotel for their league game against Bilbao that evening, Marca printed a transcript of a heated conversation that took place between Mourinho and club captains Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas.

According to the newspaper, the conversation started with Mourinho accusing Ramos and others of “killing” him with the interviews given in the mixed zone.

The coach went on to accuse the Spanish players, specifically Ramos and Casillas, of being protected by the media because they are World Champions.

Mourinho then continued his line of questioning, asking: “Where were you on the first goal (against Barcelona), Sergio?”

Ramos, who had been marking Piqué instead of his designated man Carlos Puyol, explained they had decided to switch markers.

“What? So now you’re playing at being coach?” asked Mourinho to which the Andalusian defender allegedly delivered the ultimate insult: “Because you’ve never been a player, you don’t know that that sometimes happens.”

The furious coach called a meeting before the Bilbao game to try and smoke out the source of the leak. During the game, when the Ultra Sur sang his name, their efforts were met with a chorus of boos. One TV show subsequently reported that Mourinho has decided to leave the club on June 30.

The denials from both players and coach have been slow to come and Mourinho himself has been resolutely and uncharacteristically quiet in press conferences since.

The Special One’s future at the most demanding club in the world all seems rather precarious going into tonight’s second leg at the Camp Nou. Despite previously being in the same position when under pressure and being forced into denying his exit was nearing, this is the only time that the Bernabéu has begun to show signs of discontent with the Portuguese.

But club president Florentino Pérez will continue to back his coach – and why not? His side are after all five points clear at the top of La Liga and seem well prepared for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Everything should be and could be rather rosy for Mourinho, if it were not for Barcelona, who keep proving to be an insurmountable obstacle. Every defeat at the hands of the Blaugrana piles more pressure on the coach and Madrid’s Champions League and league aspirations could yet boil down to more games between the two sides. If the defeats to Barça continue, Mourinho could well be on his way.

Although recent history would suggest it is unlikely, a win at the Camp Nou tonight would go a long way to putting Mourinho back in favour.

The Bernabéu has booed several of football’s greats. Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo Nazário and Cristiano Ronaldo have all been targets because more was expected of them and despite his success elsewhere, José Mourinho is no exception. Now it is up to him to prove it tonight and finally overcome his greatest obstacle.

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Published: Jan 25 2012
Category: Iberoblog
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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