The Portuguese has claimed just three titles in as many seasons and must be considered a failure after his side lost to Atletico in Friday’s Copa del Rey final
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer
It was utter chaos in the end. Jose Mourinho had been sent off and was watching the game in the dressing room, Pepe was barking orders from the sidelines despite not having even been in the matchday squad, club captain Iker Casillas looked on sadly from the bench and Cristiano Ronaldo was absent after kicking out at Gabi and earning himself a red card. Madrid were about to taste defeat to local rivals Atletico in 14 years and with it, they had lost their heads and also their dignity. This was a damaging defeat – and it was all Mourinho’s making.
The Portuguese coach claimed afterwards that his team had deserved to win and reportedly waited for referee Carlos Clos Gomez in the car park after the game, telling the official: “Go and celebrate with them [Atletico]!” But he always was a sore loser.
Three times Madrid had hit the post during the first 90 minutes, yet they were unable to kill off Atletico as they had done in his previous eight derbies. So the Portuguese will go down as the first Blancos coach to lose the fixture since 1999 – and he will also go down as a failure after claiming just three trophies in his three seasons at the capital club.
One Copa del Rey, one Liga and a Spanish Supercopa in three years is scant return for a coach who had won as many titles in a single season at Inter before making the move to Madrid and who had been expected to realise the club’s Decima dream. But on Friday it was Atletico celebrating their own Decima (a 10th Copa del Rey), as Real reflected on their latest loss.
Mourinho bemoaned bad luck. “It is not the result we deserved, but that’s the way it is. In football, everything is forgotten about – the refereeing, hitting the post… The history books will remember the winner and that is Atletico.”
True enough, yet he himself has had his fair share of good luck in winning trophies over the years. As Diego Simeone conceded afterwards, good luck is necessary to win any title. But it arrives for a reason.
“Without the group there is no team,” the Argentine added. He was talking about his own players and their impressive collective spirit, but he could easily have been to referring to the disharmony and distress at Mourinho’s Madrid.
The in-fighting, the fall-outs and the feuds finally took their toll on the club in the current campaign and the results are there for all to see: this is the worst season in Mourinho’s coaching career.
Only the Spanish Supercopa was added to the club’s cabinet in 2012-13 and that was way back in August. So Mourinho started the season with a trophy, but failed to pick up a title at the business end of the calendar for the first time in any of his full campaigns at Porto, Chelsea, Inter or Madrid. “It is my worst season,” he admitted afterwards. “For many it would have been a good season but for me it’s terrible because I have never [previously] failed to win a major title. When the responsibility falls to a single person, you can say I have been a failure this season.”
He has – and Mourinho’s Real reign represents a black mark on an otherwise brilliant coaching career. He has had his moments in Spain, of course, including last season’s record win in La Liga and the Copa del Rey success against Barcelona in his first season at the club. But it’s not nearly enough and self-criticism is needed after Friday’s failure. While Simeone’s side sealed success through hard work, unity and team spirit, Mourinho’s men surrendered with petulance, poor discipline, ill temper and internal strife.
Raul Albiol had been partly to blame for Atletico’s opening goal, yet he has been largely ignored by Mourinho for the last three seasons and was only in the side due to the coach’s castigation of Pepe. Casillas, meanwhile, looked on with sadness from the bench as Diego Lopez flapped at a cross which led to the winner in extra-time. Lopez has been outstanding since signing in January, but Mourinho’s treatment of club captain and symbol Iker has caused deep divisions and most of the Madrid players would have been happier with their on-pitch leader behind them on Friday – particularly, perhaps, as he had never conceded in six final wins with Madrid and Spain.
On the sidelines, Mourinho himself failed to set an example to his players as he dismissed for a fierce verbal volley of abuse at Clos Gomez in protesting the award of a free kick to Atletico. And like so many times before in his tenure, his highly strung stars were playing on the limit and it was Cristiano, cynical and petulant as things did not go his way, who saw red for an unseemly lunge at Gabi. In truth, the forward had been fortunate to escape earlier punishment for (among many misdemeanours) a crude kick at Juanfran as the defender went down injured and he was booked for dissent prior to his dismissal. But instead of offering a calming influence on the sidelines, Madrid’s coaching staff and players raged at the referee for every decision which went in Atletico’s favour. That hardly helped, even if Diego Costa was extremely lucky to avoid punishment for hitting out at Pepe as the game got ugly late on.
“Provoking, [playing] dirty and hopeless,” Swansea’s Spanish defender Angel Rangel had written on Twitter after Madrid’s Champions League elimination to Dortmund at the end of April. It seemed somewhat harsh at the time after Mourinho’s men had gone down fighting with a 2-0 win, but it summed up exactly what went on in this match. Madrid lost their heads, they lost the game and they lost a trophy. Now, they are losing Mourinho, too. But on Friday’s evidence, that’s quite possibly the best news of all.
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