When Inter Milan qualified for the final of the Champions league with Bayern Munich standing in the way of the trophy, Jose Mourinho was hailed as the rescuer of a club which had massively underperformed in Europe. When they won the final, many named Mourinho as the best coach in the world. Since then, expectations from Mourinho have scaled new heights. So, here’s a look at what all one can expect and not expect from the Special One.
When it comes to expectations, fans definitely expect him to repeat his treble winning season at Inter. But apart from that, there are a few other things Madridistas can look forward to.
1. Winning Mentality: It sounds odd when someone churns out claims about Real Madrid not having a winning mentality. But that’s exactly what the current crop of Real Madrid players lack, particularly in Europe. With Mourinho at the helm though, the Galactico fans can relax a bit, because Mourinho is a winner. He knows how to win not only games, but major trophies as well. From his Porto days to the recent historic treble win at Inter, Mourinho has time and again proved that he can bring success to a club.
At Porto, he shocked the entire footballing world by guiding them to Champions League glory, beating the likes of Manchester United, Lyon, and the then strong Deportivo La Coruna en route to the final, before thrashing Monaco 3-0 in the final in Germany. At Chelsea, most notably, he won two consecutive premier league titles, one of them after 50 long years, a single FA cup, and guided them to two Champions league semifinals. At Inter, he won the league twice, a Champions League trophy, a Coppa Italia, and an Italian super cup. And to top it all, he has done all these in a space of just seven years. Chelsea fans will fondly remember the glorious years they enjoyed under the Special One, and Inter fans will never forget their treble season. So if there’s one man who can restore Real Madrid’s European pride, it’s Jose Mourinho.
2. Sound Tactics: He’s lauded for the brilliant tactics he uses on the football pitch. Be it the “park-the-bus” strategy at the Nou Camp or the “caught-you-by-surprise” tactics against Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge, he knows how to defeat an opponent. The substitutions he used to mount a comeback for Chelsea against Spurs in an FA cup match, after trailing the game 1-3 at half time, still leaves you breathless. Real Madrid had a good coach in Bernd Schuster, Juande Ramos, and Pellegrini, but neither of them were masters at reading the game and their opponents; perhaps Ramos can be excused for that, but not the other two. After Fabio Capello, Real Madrid have got themselves a great tactician, who can take them further in Europe where tactics are the key to progression. It will be interesting to see what tactics Mourinho will use for Real Madrid.
3. Work Ethic: Once again, an attribute that most Real Madrid players lack. While they score goals and create beautiful plays, they seldom help each other out in defense ,which often leads to unnecessary goals being conceded. Under Mourinho, they will attack as a team, defend as a team, and work harder helping out each other. This is a crucial part in any team’s play, and it can only help the players if they stick to Mourinho’s plans. Mourinho demands the most of their talent from his players, and this is one thing he’ll never forgive them for, if they don’t adhere to it. The likes of Benzema and Ronaldo will have a lot more things to do on the pitch other than just scoring goals and showboating. They’ll have to help out in defense whenever necessary, like Eto’o and Milito did for Inter last season.
4. Fortress Bernabeu: Currently, Jose Mourinho is on a spree of 136 unbeaten home league games. The last time any team beat Mourinho’s men at a home league game was way back in February 2002, when Beira Mar narrowly edged out Porto by three goals to two at Stadio Dragao. That’s eight and a half years without a defeat in a home league game, which is a huge achievement. Not that Real Madrid desperately needed anything like that, since they had won 18 out of 19 league games last season at the Bernabeu, and their recent home record in the league being quite good, but something that they definitely won’t mind if at all Jose manages to keep that run going on. It’s not a guarantee that Mourinho and the Los Galacticos will win all their home games, but definitely a hope that they might not lose one next season.
5. Handling Pressure: Mourinho is famed for this, much like Sir Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello and the likes. When his team is about to face a fiercely competitive opponent, he diverts the pressure and media attention off his players and soaks up the pressure himself. This helps his players to play their natural game and not succumb to the pressure on the big occasion.
At a club like Real Madrid, where there’s no room for error, and where pressure on the players is sky-high, Mourinho will be a calming influence on his players. The round of 16 has been a stumbling block for Real for the last six years, failing miserably every time. Come February, they might be facing pretty much the same situation they have faced for the last six seasons – to qualify for the quarter final. This time the expectations are even higher, because Mourinho is known for his success, and because Real Madrid have the stability to continue from last year as a result of fewer changes made to the team. Expect special things from the Special One during February and March.
However, there are also a few things one can’t expect from Jose Mourinho, or things he hasn’t delivered yet in his previous stints at Porto, Chelsea, and Inter. Football fanatics who love to grace their eyes on fast, beautiful, attacking football criticize Mourinho for using a more orthodox Catenaccio approach, which emphasizes more on defending rather than on attacking. The list of things one cannot and should not expect from “The Special One” are as follows:
1. Sexy football: Mourinho’s teams, be it Inter, Chelsea, or Porto, always displayed defensive football most of the times. He is someone who believes in that approach, and his belief has always paid off and brought his teams success. But the Bernabeu crowd would never enjoy seeing the kind of football exhibited by Mourinho’s teams; they want their team to play open, attacking, fast and scintillating football, to bring out the Ole! Ole! chants from them. But none of his previous clubs have displayed the kind of football the Bernabeu faithful yearn for. It will be interesting to see if Mourinho will indeed give Madridistas want they want. Maybe he still has more special things to show to the football world, and there’s no better place to show that off than at the Bernabeu.
We might not see something like that under Mourinho.
2. Stay on as coach for 20 years: While it’s true that Mourinho might win 25 trophies in 20 years, there is no way he will achieve that at one single club. He is a coach who wanders around, who wants to win silverware at different clubs and in different leagues. If and when he brings success to Real Madrid, the Casablanca fans might want him to stay on as their coach. But Mourinho will definitely not stay on for more than four to five years at a club; instead, he will move on to another club, maybe Manchester United (where he is tipped to replace Sir Alex Ferguson when the latter retires). To expect him to stay on and build a legacy for Real, like Sir Alex Ferguson has done for Manchester United or like Arsene Wenger has done it for Arsenal, would be outright foolishness.
3. Failure: It’s very difficult to see him failing to win trophies with the set of players Real have now. He has seen failure very few times in his eight to nine years as a coach. Not winning the Champions League at Chelsea can be the only failure one can point to in his glittering profile. At Madrid, he’ll have the tools and the right set of players to win all the trophies. So failure should be the least feared factor for Real Madrid and their fans. The probability of Mourinho failing to win a trophy is directly proportional to the probability of Manchester City signing Lionel Messi. So do the math yourself.
4. Formation without a defensive midfielder: This is something you’ll never expect him to do. There are a few things coaches always stick to. For Fabio Capello, it’s the two defensive midfielders in the centre of the pitch. For Marco Bielsa, it’s the 3 man backline which works out. Similarly, it’s the defensive midfielder who is an important piece in a Jose Mourinho team. He almost always fields a strong, hardworking defensive midfielder. When Claude Makelele was infamously sold by Florentino Perez in 2003, Chelsea bought him; Mourinho used him to great effect, and the rest as they say is history, with Chelsea going on to win successive premier league titles and further trophies. At Real Madrid, he has plenty of options for that role. Xabi Alonso will most definitely start. Along with him he can choose either of Lass, Diarra, Gago, or Khedira. One can expect him to start with one, two, or even three of these players, most probably against teams like Barcelona and Arsenal.
5. Youth development: It is a well known fact that Jose Mourinho prefers experienced players to the young and upcoming starlets, and the same will continue at Real Madrid. The Real Madrid Castilla hasn’t been producing the kind of talent Barcelona’s famed La Masia is producing. With Mourinho, the chance of another Raul emerging from the youth academy is dull. Jorge Valdano and Miguel Pardeza have been stressing on the importance of La Castilla, but it’ll be interesting to see if Mourinho will share the same view as those two. No one can expect him to start more than two under-23s in a European game.
Finally, it’s time to wind up this article. Now that Real Madrid have won their first two preseason games in America, these are some of the things a Real Madrid fan can expect and not expect from the Special One. If you think there are more possibilities which have been overlooked, please feel free to add them in our comments section below. I am signing off with the highlights of the games from America.
HALA JOSE! HALA MADRID!