Success vs Style; Mourinho’s “Real” Conundrum

“Success; the attainment of wealth, position, honors or the like”

“Style; a particular, distinctive or characteristic mode of action or manner of acting”

When you look up the above words in the dictionary you get a clear sense of their meanings…if you were able to look up José Mourinho in the dictionary you would not be surprised to see the word “success” attached to his description in one way or another. At the end of the day Mourinho’s Coaching C.V demands such.

Regarded as one of the best coaches in world football and the man who has won almost every club competition available to him (FIFA Club World Cup aside) with domestic titles in Portugal, England, and Italy now finds himself after 16 months in a “Real-Conumdrum” at Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Looking at his coaching statistics Mourinho is breaking all kinds of records at Real Madrid and the figures speak for themselves;

Mourinho's impressive record - Wikipedia

As you can see from the stats Mourinho has had nothing but success wherever he has been. At Real Madrid he holds his highest win percentage record (after 91 games) and if his side continue their scoring & winning exploits will almost certainly surpass the Goals For and Goals Against record he set at Chelsea after 185 games…only question is will he reach 185 games at the helm…?Despite the impressive figures, Real Madrid holding a 5 point lead at the top of La Liga and concluding this years Champions League group stage with six victories (to equal a club record set 50 years earlier, in 1961) and thus becoming only the fifth team in Champions League history to accomplish the feat, questions around his future are beginning to surface…club members, supporters and even some within the club are beginning to question not the “success” of the team but the “style”.Looking back at his days at Porto where Mourinho first developed and went on to master his blueprint of: high organization, high tempo, high intensity, aggressive pressing and lightning quick counter attacking football is it to bold to say that, despite the trophies won (since the Champions League title in 2004 with Porto) his philosophy has not developed and is unable to evolve.

Mourinho in all his years from Porto through Chelsea, Inter Milan and now Real Madrid has almost never move too far away from his favored 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 blueprint.  Whether it’s Duff-Drogba-Joe Cole, or Ronaldo-Benzema-Di Maria it is easy to identify his blueprint. It is only until his move to La Liga where he competes with the best team in world football in Barcelona that this blueprint is being dissected and negatively appreciated.

Mourinho Blueprint 2004-Present

On Tuesday 24-Jan episode of “Revista De La Liga – SkySports” former Real Madrid and Spain full back Michel Salgado made an interesting point – “I think that Mourinho has come to Madrid, failed to understand the demands of Spanish Football and the expectations of the club. I believe that Tomorrows Copa Del Rey 2nd Leg tie at the Nou Camp (where they trail 2-1 on agg) will not be judged by result, or goals scored/conceded, but about the sensation the team leaves at full time to its fans”.

Real Madrid has been a lifelong symbol of pure football, great tradition and honor and an identity of Spanish Football across Europe and the world…until a little more then 4 years ago where non other then their greatest rivals FC Barcelona have managed to turn the dream of beautiful aesthetic football and winning titles into reality…this obviously does not sit well in Madrid and with its socios.

This seasons failures against Barcelona in the Super Copa, League and 1st Leg Copa Del Rey seem to have been the straw that broke the camels back and the boos and jeers after last weeks loss to their great rivals where more then noticeable by over half of the Bernabeu. Mourinho responded in his trademark direct and brash way saying “Zidane has been booed in the Bernabeu, Ronaldo (Brazil) has been booed in this stadium, Cristiano Ronaldo has been booed in this stadium, so why not me”?

It is this response and a history of others that have helped many of the core Madrid fans grow tired of his leadership. Has Mourinho forgotten how great this club is and what it symbolizes? Is Mourinho starting to loose control of the changing room and confidence of his own players? Whatever it is, it’s clear that many agree what has been lost is how today’s Real Madrid team plays…what is their identity?

For me Real Madrid and Mourinho can only be truly judged against their performances against Barcelona in the past two seasons. What has been frightening is the inability of Madrids players to adapt to situations in the Clásicos and respond in the correct manner to either going behind (normally a loss of discipline arises) or taking the lead in these games. The former has been followed by distinct lacks of discipline and loss of concentration (which is very un-Mourinho like) and the latter of taking leads in clásicos is followed by an inability to keep possession, keep on top of their opponent and a lack of confidence with the football.

I am of firm belief that the players on the field are a direct reflection of their coach; if the players become I’ll-disciplined and loose their cool, it is because their coach allows them to…if the players do not have the ability to keep possession, control games and dominate their opponent it is because their coach has not given them the confidence and tools to do so. Yes in el clásicos they come up against the best footballing side in the world, but In Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Xavi Alonso, Mezut Ozil, and Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid have enough experience, class and quality to justify their measly average of 25-35% possession in el clásicos.

So it is not a question of the success or lack their of in el clásicos, it is the style of them that’s questioned. Thus the doubts rise to the surface if José Mourinho’s blueprint is the direction that Real Madrid want to take moving forward…and from the latest vibes, mutterings and moods that have managed to slip through the water tight ship Mourinho sails this summer could be their final voyage with “The Special One” at the commands.

(written pre Copa Del Rey 2nd Leg – FCB v RM)
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