In his first season in charge of Real Madrid, Manuel Pellegrini broke La Liga's single-season point record with a fairly new squad that included the world's two most expensive transfers in history.
However, because he suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Copa del Rey—and really, because of Madrid's lack of patience and long-term vision—he was sacked in 2010 and Jose Mourinho was brought in.
This season Mourinho—as great a coach as he is—has Madridistas seriously questioning whether he is really the man to move the club forward while Pellegrini is reminding us how great a manager he is.
Is Change Needed?
After dropping more points to Espanyol last weekend and falling 13 points behind Barcelona, it looks almost certain that Jose Mourinho will have won only one league trophy in three years.
Even if Madrid ends up winning the Champions League, the main goal of ending Barcelona's stranglehold on La Liga will not have been achieved.
There is a strong chance that Manuel Pellegrini or another top coach could have been just as successful in that span if they had been allowed to stay on.
This makes it fair to say that someone else should take over next season. Now that success has yet again not been found, the desire for change is not just fair—it is expected in Madrid.
However, that mindset is part of the problem—a lack of patience and failing to have any solution beyond bringing in new personnel.
The last 10 years have shown that this short-sighted approach to football management is simply not a recipe for success.
A Decade of Failure
Real Madrid are one of Europe's historically elite clubs. They start every season with the goal of winning every title available.
However, despite spending more than almost any club in football, the last decade has not seen that goal fulfilled very often.
If this season finishes without a title as that looks likely, Real Madrid will have won only three league titles in the last 10 years.
They may also fail to even reach the Champions League final for the 10th straight time and have only won one Copa del Rey trophy.
In that span, Real Madrid have had 10 different managers. That's 10 managers since the start of the 2003-2004 season.
It should be apparent by now that spending loads of cash to bring in superstars while sacking managers almost as soon as they fail to win major silverware is not the way to go.
Three league titles and one Copa del Rey trophy for a team with Real Madrid's financial strength and consistent individual talent can fairly be seen as a failure.
Mourinho Fairly Being Criticized
Fans are right to think Mourinho's rather limited tactical abilities in Spain and stubborn use of his squad do more harm than good.
They are right to think he may be having an overall negative affect in the locker room and for Madrid's on-pitch (and even off-pitch) image.
They are right to want to see change. The great Portuguese coach has seemingly lost the confidence and even control of at least some of his players.
He has built a defensive, counterattacking team that lacks creativity or variability and is unable to excel with possession.
As great as his Champions League record is, Mourinho has a poor record against the top clubs in Europe while coaching Madrid.
After three years and only one league title, fans have every right to label Mourinho's time at the helm a failure, even if he does lift their long-targeted 10th Champions League title.
The Impact of Change
Real Madrid's leaders should think about what another coaching change would mean for the club. Everything Mourinho has done will have to be undone and the entire system may need to be reworked.
That means Barcelona would be very favored to win the league over the next couple of seasons while Madrid once again find a new identity and probably integrate more star players into a potentially disjointed team.
A new coach would have to find his feet with a new squad, many of whom could be new themselves.
Would key players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil want to wait potentially years to help the club make it through one more "new era" while other teams are growing more united and systemic?
Changing coaches is no small endeavor at any club, but at Madrid—a team that is full of superstar personality and has a high demand for instant success—it is a huge feat that takes great vision to integrate properly.
If Not Mourinho, Who?
The question should not just about Mourinho, though. We also have to look at the alternatives. Right now, who would be a better option to manage Real Madrid?
Is there honestly a coach available who can handle huge personalities, millions of euros worth of talent and a high-stress job that demands trophies immediately despite playing in the same league as one of the greatest teams in history?
Is there a coach better suited or more likely to lift their 10th Champions League trophy than a man who already has two titles to his name?
If not, Los Merengues should not risk upsetting a fragile balance within the current squad that has already taken three years just to keep this united.
Success in Relative in Spain Right Now
The club and its fans have to keep things in perspective.
Yes, Madrid is probably about to finish their fourth season without a league title in the last five years, but I don't think any team in football would have had much more success against today's Barcelona team.
La Blaugrana are at the peak of their long history and have one of the world's all-time greatest players along with some of the best midfielders and defenders to ever play the game.
To expect immediate success against them is simply foolish. In the same way, to bring in a new coach after one very poor season would be short-sighted and lacking discipline.
Would Mourinho Leaving Be Best for Madrid?
After Madrid's draw with Espanyol, Jose Mourinho said that winning La Liga was impossible. His main goal will now be winning the Champions League.
The fact that such a successful coach is admitting defeat in December is quite telling of how bad this season has gone for Madrid.
In all fairness, most of the responsibility for the poor results falls on Mourinho's shoulders, just as the relatively poor results in Europe come down to the coach and his tactics and squad usage.
It is certainly fair to want a change in leadership and that may honestly be the best thing Real Madrid can do next summer if they want to keep up with a Barcelona team that only seems to be getting better.
However, before the team makes that choice and move on from one of the most successful coaches in European history, they have to think long and hard about the consequences as well as the next step.
Real Madrid Need Vision
If Los Merengues go another direction next season, it can't just happen because Mourinho is failing in La Liga and is failing to reach their lofty expectations.
If the Portuguese coach leaves, it has to be because the club has someone else in mind who is better suited and more capable of bringing their own vision to life.
Figuring out a problem is only half of the battle. Understanding how to solve that problem and creating a plan to do it is the other half.
Real Madrid have failed to complete the second part for the last 10 years. If they are ever going to become the best team in Europe, they can't fail to do it again.
Before they even consider parting ways with Jose Mourinho, the club has to have a true, clear vision of how to solve their current problems as well as know who is better suited to do that.
If not, the cycle of temporary success built more on the strength of world-class players than on great coaching will only continue while their rivals truly etch their names into footballing history.
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