There is some new speculation this week that Jose Mourinho will part ways with Real Madrid at the end of this season. The reaction of most neutral football fans is probably “OK, what’s new”. Mourinho has indicated on a number of occasions his plans to leave the club. He was especially vocal before last season, only to stay on with the club and win the title and come very close to a Champions League trophy.
This time, however, it may be different. For one, the source of speculation was Madrid newspaper Marca. The publication is very close to Real President Florentino Perez and has often acted as the unofficial voice of the clubs top management. So when it says that Mourihno and Perez have agreed to split ways in the summer with only the details to be figured, there has to be some merit to the information.
It many respects, the speculation makes sense now more than ever. Mourinho has spent three seasons at Real, which is the maximum he has stayed at any club. He was brought on because he has proven that he can help the club win the league, win the Champions League and beat Barcelona, like he did while at Inter. Although he did become league champion and managed to finally beat the arch-rivals, he hasn’t shown that he could do it on a consistent basis.(so far)
What is probably most bothering Perez is that at this point of the season, the successes of last season seem more like an aberration than something that would be built upon. Real are sitting in third place in La Liga, and seems more likely to be competing with cross-town rivals Atletico for second than to reach Barcelona. In the Champions League, the team has progressed relatively comfortably to the elimination phase, but only in second place, being outplayed by Borussia Dortmund on two occasions. Perez might be feeling Mou has peaked last season and is only downhill from here.
Mourinho, on his side, is also not too eager to remain at the Bernabeu. He has never quite received the love and devotion of the fans and the media in Madrid. He came on the pitch before Real Madrid’s Champions League game with Ajax this week so the fans could direct their anger at him and not at the players. After all, Mourinho has himself said that he feels he is a special one. Booing and chants probably do not make him feel very special at all.
He has on a number of occasions indicated that he wants to go back to the English Premier League. The treatment by fans and media there was completely different. He is regarded as a legend by Chelsea fans and the media quite wholeheartedly embraced his self-proclaimed “Special One” status. There is no way he has forgotten that.
So Mourinho and Perez might as well have talked, and might as well have decided to split ways. The one variable in this equation is time, and time often changes feelings. Barcelona looks unreachable in the league, but even they have gone through rough patches before. But even more importantly the ultimate prize – the Champions League – is still very much up for grabs. If Mourinho gets to dance with the trophy after the final at Wembley, who knows how it will make him feel about the future?
In any event, Mourinho leaving Real after this season will make for one very interesting summer. He might just happen to meet Rafa Benitez at the door at Stamford Bridge. It is also likely that next summer Pep Guardiola will end his sabbatical and return to the world of football. Manchester City is already out of Europe, and if the team fails to win the Premier League, there might be an opening just for him. Then Jose and Pep could renew their arch-rivalry, this time on English soil. All fans of the game should be excited by this prospect. In the end, only time will tell.