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La Liga: The end of a controversial era for Real Madrid

José Mourinho’s departure has finally been confirmed after months of rumour, tensions and acrimony.


Copa del Rey final

Real Madrid lost the Copa del Rey final 2-1 to Atlético.

It has been a very long goodbye but finally, on Monday evening, journalists crowded into the press room at the Santiago Bernabéu to hear Real Madrid club President Florentino Pérez confirm what everyone has known for months: José Mourinho will leave at the end of the season.

His three years at the club have been marred by controversies and there were numerous other occasions when it was felt he might depart, but in recent months, with results going against Los Blancos and his own players turning against him, his position at the helm of one of the biggest clubs in the world had become untenable.

In his first season, Madrid won the Copa del Rey, in the second they stormed to their first liga title in four years and the stage was set for the team to continue its upwards trajectory and stake a serious claim for the Champions League trophy this season. But it didn’t work out that way.

Results, particularly away from home this season have gone against the team and while they were soon out of the running for the league, rumours of player unrest and in-fighting proved more damaging.

Mourinho has never shied away from a fight in his managerial career. At Madrid, in his first season he publicly clashed with Director General Jorge Valdano, with the latter losing the power struggle and being ousted that summer. He has relished fighting Barcelona, on one occasion quite literally when he poked Tito Vilanova in the eye at the Camp Nou. But this season was different, because he has fought with his own players.

It has not been so much us against them but him against everyone, including his own.

The league was lost before Christmas but the club kept the faith despite the fact that he had dropped team captains Sergio Ramos – for one big game – and Iker Casillas for significantly longer, in the hope that it would all work out with success in the Champions League.

It did not. A 4-1 semi-final first-leg defeat away to Borussia Dortmund proved too big a hurdle to overcome in the return leg, though Los Merengues rallied the fans at the Bernabéu and came within a goal of securing their passage to the final.

Days later, Mourinho continued to publicly criticise Casillas, who for the most part had been sitting on the bench since the turn of the year, before launching a scathing attack on Pepe, who had come to the defence of his teammate.

Real Madrid’s only chance to win silverware this year came against their city rivals Atlético Madrid – a side which had failed to beat them in all competitions since 1999. The match would take place at the Bernabéu, where Madrid had remained unbeaten for over a year. It seemed they couldn’t possibly lose – but they did.

In his final act, Mourinho was nowhere to be seen. Sent off in the second half, while in the past he had occupied a seat in the stands near the dugout after expulsion, this time he disappeared from view.

Recovering the competitive edge

Mourinho is heading off to pastures new – or most likely old, with a return to Chelsea on the cards – and debate has begun about whether his three years at the club were a success or failure.

On Monday, Pérez stated: “Mourinho has been here for three years: that makes him the longest serving manager in the first division.” Three years is a long time in Spanish football, at Real Madrid, it is a lifetime.

In that time, the club have won a liga title, the Copa del Rey and a Spanish Supercup. But more than that, Madrid have regained a competitive edge that was missing for so long, with the failure to move past the last-16 round of the Champions League for six years before The Special One’s arrival. They have now reached three consecutive semi-finals.

They have progressed to two cup finals and won the league which had eluded them. And significantly, they have broken the psychological hold that Barcelona have had over them.

It would be short-sighted to think the lack of a Champions League trophy deemed Mourinho’s time at the club a failure. Madrid, going against their traditional grain, were opting for trophies but also stability. Keeping their coach for three years has provided the latter and some of the former, but patience is not everlasting at Madrid. It is time for someone else to take the helm and for Mourinho to continue his legend elsewhere.


RCD Mallorca 1 – 0 Real Betis

FC Barcelona 2 – 1 Real Valladolid

Real Zaragoza 1 – 2 Athletic Bilbao

Deportivo La Coruña 2 – 0 RCD Espanyol

Levante UD 2 – 3 Rayo Vallecano

Sevilla FC 1 – 2 Real Sociedad

Granada CF 3 – 0 Osasuna

Getafe CF 0 – 1 Valencia CF

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Published: May 21 2013
Category: Sports, Featured, Spain News
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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