Only a few weeks earlier Barcelona had pried the Spanish title away from the capital side, and the previous season the Catalan giants had defeated Manchester United in the Champions League final.
Mourinho, as he must have known at the time—and surely knows now—was brought in to knock Barcelona off their perch (to borrow a Sir Alex Ferguson-ism), to mark the tenure of Florentino Perez's club presidency with trophies and a return to the top of the Spanish game.
But there was another reason for his appointment, as well, and as he failed to accomplish his first mandate it remains his primary target between now and the end of the season, which will likely mark the end for both he and Perez at the Santiago Bernabeu.
For nearly 11 years Real Madrid have been craving a 10th European Cup—a benchmark symbolically known as La Decima and an objective that will no doubt be obsessing Mourinho over the next few weeks, especially as Barcelona are poised to regain La Liga.
Ahead of Madrid’s second leg appointment with Galatasaray on Tuesday, club legend Raul—now a star at Qatari side Al Sadd—added to the pressure already heaped on the current Meringues, telling Spanish outlet Tele 5, “They’re on the right track and I hope that La Decima comes in May.” (Goal)
He added: “It’s what all Madridistas want.”
And in December, current Madrid captain Iker Casillas told La Sexta he preferred the idea of winning a 10th European Cup for the club rather than retaining their league title.
“I do not have to think about it,” he said. If you told me, knowing that we would finish 25 points behind Barcelona, that is obviously not ideal as the domestic competition is very important—but if you told me we are going to win La Decima, I would sign for that right now.” (ESPN)
No doubt Mourinho agrees with him. For while the Champions League with Porto was an accomplishment, the two titles with Chelsea even more of one, and the treble with Inter Milan even more of one still, little he could do in club management would ever compare with concluding La Decima at Real Madrid.
“Now we have a semi[final] to play, against a great team,” he said following Tuesday’s 5-3 aggregate victory over Galatasaray. “We do not know which one yet, but they will be great. It will be hard, but now is the time to enjoy ourselves and not to be nervous or afraid.” (Uefa)
Easier said than done.
A monumental achievement awaits on Wembley’s presentation gallery, and surely Mourinho is desperate for it to be him that lifts the 10th, and not someone else, sometime down the road.