'Coward' Mourinho still questioned by Real Madrid fans – and losing to Barcelona will only make things worse

By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

These are trying times for Jose Mourinho. The Real Madrid coach brought back La Liga to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2011-12, but three games into the current campaign, he has found his credit is already running out fast.

Shortly before the start of the season, the Portuguese boasted about his record of titles claimed in Europe’s three largest leagues: Spain, England and Italy. “In England they called me the ‘Special One’, he said. “But after winning the English, Italian and Spanish championships, they should call me the ‘Only One’ …”


After a 5-0 defeat in his first Clasico, Mourinho’s men rescued a draw here as Ronaldo converted a late penalty. Four days later, Madrid won the Copa del Rey

Messi hit two late goals, including a stunning second, in the teams’ Champions League semi-final first leg after Pepe had been sent off for a foul on Dani Alves

This was a brighter performance from Madrid, but Mourinho’s men still could not defeat a Barca side well behind them in their preparations for the new season

Madrid took an early lead but were undone by a superior Barca side and Ronaldo was jeered by his own fans after missing two glorious chances

Goals from Eric Abidal and Carles Puyol saw Barca overturn an early Cristiano strike and this time it was Mourinho who was booed for a strange team selection

The timing proved unfortunate. Three games in, and the ‘only one’ Madrid have failed to lose is the opening-weekend draw at home to Valencia.

Defeats to Barcelona and Getafe have followed, and as Madrid prepare to face the Catalans again on Wednesday, in the second leg of the Spanish Supercopa, the situation is somewhat critical.

Mourinho’s men are already five points adrift of Barca in La Liga and remain alive in the Supercopa thanks largely to Victor Valdes’ monumental mistake in the closing stages at Camp Nou, which allowed Angel Di Maria to reduce the deficit to 3-2.

That means the 49-year-old is still in with a real chance of winning the only trophy he has yet to claim in Spain, but in order to achieve that, Mourinho must manage to do something he has never been able – he needs to beat Barcelona at the Bernabeu.

Of the five Clasico clashes he has disputed in the capital, Mourinho has drawn two and lost three. The last of those was a damaging defeat to the Catalans in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals back in January when Ricardo Carvalho and Hamit Altintop, the former returning from a long spell on the sidelines and the latter used sparingly in previous months, made surprise starts at the Bernabeu. But the plan failed to work and after taking the lead through Cristiano Ronaldo early on, Madrid were picked apart by goals from Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal. In the end, the 2-1 scoreline flattered them and the home fans had lost their patience: the cheers were replaced by jeers. And they were aimed at the coach.

A 4-1 weekend win over Athletic Bilbao made things slightly better and a creditable 2-2 draw at Camp Nou restored some credibility for the Portuguese a week after the first defeat. Mourinho subsequently sealed La Liga by beating Barca at Camp Nou in April and all seemed well, but some sectors of the Madrid support remain far from enamoured with the former Chelsea and Inter coach.

Late last week, American actor Viggo Mortensen took a swipe at the 49-year-old. “I am a Real Madrid fan,” he told a radio station in Argentina. “But I hate Mourinho. I can’t stand his cowardly approach.”

Mourinho may not care what Mortensen thinks, but he would perhaps be disturbed to learn that many Madrid fans share the views of the American actor. They are a club accustomed not only to winning, but to winning in a certain way. Barcelona’s recent dominance has therefore been hard to swallow for Madridistas – and Mourinho’s pragmatic gameplan hardly helps.

While the majority still back their boss, some sections of the Madrid support have never taken to Mourinho, due to his counterattacking philosophy and a series of off-the-field incidents which have seen the club’s ‘gentlemanly’ reputation erode over the last two years. At Getafe on Sunday, a few fans even told television cameras that the time has come for the Portuguese to leave the Santiago Bernabeu.

Success and a trophy on Wednesday will quickly change all that, of course, but another disappointing defeat at home to Barcelona – even at this early stage – will only make things worse.

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Mourinho: Carvalho's career is over if he stays at Real Madrid

Jose Mourinho has insisted that Ricardo Carvalho does not have a future at Real Madrid, and has urged his compatriot to move on.

The centre-back moved to the Santiago Bernabeu from Chelsea in the summer of 2010 and quickly became an important first team member.

However, the 34-year-old lost his starting berth amid a string of injuries last season, and Mourinho is eager to offload Carvalho this summer.

“Ricardo is not part of our plans for the season,” Mourinho stated at a press conference.

“It is up to him whether he wants to continue playing football or stay at Real Madrid and meet his contractual obligations and practically end his sporting career.

“A lot of teams are interested in Ricardo. He is a quality player and there is interest in him. There are various teams from different leagues who have shown an interest in him.”

Carvalho, who has recently been linked with a move to QPR, has a contract with Madrid until June 2013.

You don't win titles at the start of the season, says Ozil

Mesut Ozil is not too worried about Real Madrid’s disappointing start to the 2012-13 campaign, and feels they still have plenty of time to make up for their poor results so far.

The reigning Liga champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Valencia on matchday 1, while they were beaten 2-1 by Getafe at the weekend.

“It is clear that Real Madrid are aiming high and always want the best. However, you do not win titles at the start of the season,” stated Ozil to Bild.

“We have not found our best form yet as a team, but nothing is lost just yet. We have to make sure we get back on track as soon as possible now.

“We have had a bit of bad luck. We don’t score enough goals. These things happen in football, though.”

The attacking midfielder then went on to discuss the arrival of Luka Modric, and stressed that he is not worried about losing his place in Jose Mourinho’s starting XI.

“There is always a lot of competition when you play for a team like Real Madrid. We do not have just 11 players, but Madrid always have about 18 great players.

“You simply get used to that. It is not about Ozil, Modric or Kaka. The team is all that matters.”

Madrid will be looking to return to winning ways in the return leg of the Spanish Supercopa tie against Barcelona on Wednesday at the Bernabeu, with the Catalans holding a 3-2 advantage from the first encounter.

Real Madrid will be more dangerous following Getafe defeat, admits Tito Vilanova

Barcelona trainer Tito Vilanova believes his side will face a tougher task against Real Madrid as the club are still in search of their first win of the season.

The Blaugrana narrowly escaped defeat to Osasuna at the weekend as they came from behind to win 2-1 but Jose Mourinho’s side were not as fortunate as they went down to Getafe by the same scoreline.

Asked whether Sunday’s result would make Los Blancos more vulnerable or more formidable in the second leg of the Supercopa on Thursday, the Barca coach was in no doubt that the latter effect would be more prominent.

“[It will make them] More dangerous, yes, yes. That’s normal, the same would happen with us,” Vilanova said in a press conference.

“If we had not won in two or three games and we were playing at home, we would try to change the dynamic as quickly as possible.

“But in themselves Madrid are already dangerous with the number of players they have, and in the [Santiago] Bernabeu. It is impossible to think about going to Madrid and having an easy game.

“They are very good. You just have to look at what they did last year.”

However, Vilanova admitted that while it would be nice to lift some silverware by winning the Supercopa he does not believe the result will have much bearing on the rest of the season.

“[It is] Better to win it than not win it, but I don’t think it marks the season. We have had three games and thinking that the winner of the Super Cup is going to win all the titles to come… I don’t think so. There is so much ahead.

“We all know Madrid will many games and points. It is too much to analyse with only two match days [in La Liga].”

The 42-year-old also revealed that new-signing Alexandre Song could be in line to make his debut in the fixture.

“He [Song] has only had a week. He has a few mechanisms to learn obviously. We will see if he gets a few minutes.”

Puyol included in Barcelona squad for Real Madrid clash

Puyol - máscara

Un Puyol pibe y su máscara “reliquia” / Getty

Carles Puyol has been selected as part of the Barcelona squad to face Real Madrid in the return fixture of the Supercopa despite fracturing his cheekbone on Sunday evening.

The Blaugrana captain looked set for a lengthy absence after suffering the injury during the 2-1 win over Osasuna, but will wear a face mask in order to play against his side’s arch rivals on Thursday evening.

Barca will enter the Santiago Bernabeu with a slender 3-2 advantage over Jose Mourinho’s men and of the first team squad, only two players will not be among the traveling contingent.

Eric Abidal will be absent as he continues to recover from a liver transplant while Marc Muniesa also undergoes rehabilitation following surgery on his knee.

Although injured, Thiago Alcantara and Issac Cuenca will be present as Tito Vilanova looks to win his first piece of silverware since taking over from Pep Guardiola.