The most expected unexpected news is officially out. Jose Mourinho will be leaving the Santiago Bernabeu after three fun-filled and wonderfully sensationalist years at Real Madrid. With the announcement from Florentino Pérez on Monday evening that the manager and club will be parting ways by mutual consent, the club president must already be feeling a weight lifting off his shoulders.
Whilst the Madrid Big Man told the media that Mourinho had given the club "a significant leap" after his spell in the Spanish capital, the hope must now be that the next coach on the Bernabeu will be of a considerably less polemical profile than the current incumbent. Here is an idea of five other qualities Pérez will be looking for in his next coach.
Mourinho will be leaving quite the mess behind at the club. Whilst Pérez felt that “the fans are more united than ever," supporters in the Bernabeu are split into factions of lovers and haters of the Portuguese provoker. Each home game now sees a booing / cheering competition at the announcement of the manager’s name. The dressing room does not look too fantastic either, with Pepe and Iker Casillas exiled to either the bench or the stands. A new manager will need to erase recent history, help everyone get along and turn those frowns upside down. Making friends and influencing people is going to be the immediate task for Mourinho’s replacement.
There is nothing too much wrong with Real Madrid’s squad, but some tough calls are going to have to be made in terms of tweaking the team. The tendency of Mourinho to switch between Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain up front is not good for either player, nor the side itself, with both footballers struggling to find form. One striker will need to be sold. There may need to be a bit of a defensive clear-out too, with Pepe no longer being the defending force he once was. Fabio Coentrao has few friends in the Madridismo world also. Whilst the new boss is at it, the talented but inconsistent Angel di Maria out on the wing could be jettisoned, too.
In Mourinho’s first year the club, the aim of the Madrid manager was to toughen up the squad and develop mental strength. That worked with a Copa del Rey victory and a Champions League semi-final spot. The second season saw a blisteringly good team which simply blew sides away with relentless attacks, pressure and brute force. Mourinho’s final year tried to repeat the tricks of the second season, but without the energy, passion and commitment from the players needed to drive it. When sides sat back and gave Real Madrid the ball, the footballers did not know what to do with it. Madrid’s new boss needs to invent a serious, consistent style to take advantage of the world class footballers at the club.
The win-at-all-costs Mourinho had little love for youth team players aside from 20 minutes here and there given in end-of-season clashes. Quite reasonably, the philosophy from the coach ran that if the footballers were good enough, then they would play. If not, then Real Madrid’s first team was not a charity.
The next manager may want to give what the Madrid fans always crave and develop some homegrown talent. Dani Carvajal needs to be recalled from Bayer Leverkusen and slotted in at right-back. Jese Rodriguez from the club’s second team, Castilla, should be given some first team experience, with Alvaro Morata promoted as the second string striker.
A Champions League Winner
The Madrid president would put up with a coach who bared his bum to the press every day and gave the finger to fans before every home game if he won the Champions League for the next five years. Mourinho did not manage it once. Although Perez may talk about the image, history and gentlemanly culture of the club, the only thing that really matters is that the next bum on the Bernabeu bench wins the team’s 10th European title. Then the 11th, and the 12th, and the 13th...