Published on March 7th, 2013 | by Tim Stannard0
Mourinho warns of tougher times to come for Madrid
“In a moment, when Real Madrid supporters were breathing out a huge sigh of relief that the season wasn’t going to be a total washout – at least for a few more weeks – the coach was admitting that his team was lucky to be in the draw for the quarterfinals.” Writes Tim Stannard
There were many issues to digest and then regurgitate after Real Madrid’s Champions League win over Manchester United on Tuesday night. Did the referee’s red card decision give the game to the visitors? Was Cristiano Ronaldo’s non-celebration just a bit too non-celebrating? Why are Real Madrid so troubled when they are given possession? Does José Mourinho striding off early to the dressing room indicate confidence or too many cups of tea during the game?
In the Kremlinology-style science of predicting the future at the Santiago Bernabéu, it was the post match comments from the Madrid manager that caused eyebrows to rise even higher than those belonging to constantly surprise-looking Mesut Özil. José Mourinho caused a few mouths to open and close by admitting that the referee was harsh on the opponents, that Manchester United played very well, that his own side didn’t and that “the better team lost.”
Mourinho had been kind to Sir Alex Ferguson and his side in the previous meeting in the Spanish capital, but this was going above and beyond normal pleasantries. In a moment, when Real Madrid supporters were breathing out a huge sigh of relief that the season wasn’t going to be a total washout – at least for a few more weeks – the coach was admitting that his team was lucky to be in the draw for the quarterfinals. It flew firmly in the face of the belief that this time, this time, it was going to be Real Madrid’s year.
As Mourinho doesn’t do anything unplanned in front of the media, whether it be claiming international-spanning conspiracies aiding and abetting Barcelona, or…er…international-spanning conspiracies aiding and abetting Barcelona, the comments at the post match presser have been interpreted as Mourinho maneuvering himself into pole-position as Sir Alex’s successor with a ploy of “hey, I’m not so big a douche-nozzle as people think.”
It’s certainly one idea, but there another plausible alternative, and that’s the notion that José Mourinho was simply trying to be up front and tell the truth. The Portuguese already has a massive job on his hands trying to win the much-desired tenth European title for Real Madrid and a Champions League title with his third club. However, an even bigger task may be trying to convince fans and a euphoric Madrid media that it isn’t going to be the cakewalk that everyone seems to think, in the wake of the Tuesday’s successfully passed the test.
The enormity of the two teams involved in the clash against Manchester United combined with the ramifications of what would happen should Real Madrid have failed, made this particular game feel like the Champions League final itself. The problem there is that date at Wembley is still a very long way away and Real Madrid are going to have to improve considerably if they are to pass through the quarter-final and semi-final stages.
Once again, Madrid looked stodgy and slow when given the ball by Manchester United and it was only when the opponents were reduced to ten men that the Spanish side starting getting on top. In the same way that a poor refereeing decision prevented Barça from getting an equalizer in the Santiago Bernabéu on Saturday in La Liga, it was another one that helped Madrid through at Old Trafford. It was a reminder that margins are thin in football between success and failure.
The front cover of Thursday’s AS reported that bookies were making Madrid favourites for the competition but those odds will grow longer if traditional bogey teams such as Juventus or Bayern Munich are the side’s next opponents in the draw on 15th March. Whilst Real Madrid have the players, motivation and self-belief to win their Tenth, Mourinho’s post match comments indicate that he is more aware than anyone else that the task ahead is not going to be a simple one. Rather than planning his future, Mourinho was more concerned about the present.
Image credit: guardian.co.uk
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