Jose Mourinho Leaves Real Madrid for Chelsea with Head Held High
A media scrum descended on the Real Madrid bench a minute into the side's game with Osasuna, Saturday.
Jose Mourinho tried to make the brief walk from the tunnel as innocuous as possible, but was naturally foiled by a baying group of photographers.
Chaos descended, provoking the match referee to stop play and intervene among all the flashing lights.
The Portuguese coach looked unperturbed by all the attention—he expects it.
He then sat huddled on the bench, stony-faced for the full 90 minutes as his team dispatched with Osasuna 4-2 in an end-to-end struggle.
At the final whistle, he emerged to bid farewell to the Real Ultras at one end of the Santiago Bernabeu.
He received a polite response from a crowd torn over whether to celebrate or scorn the departing manager.
There were some boos, some cheers. Many in the stadium had already gone home by the final whistle.
There will be no parade for Jose, no stand named in his honour or statue erected outside the stadium.
Yet his legacy at Real will be a positive one. He won the league last year, breaking the dominance of a Barcelona side widely regarded as one of the best in history.
His pregame message, published on the club's official website, read:
I wish all of Real Madrid's supporters much happiness in the future. I want to thank many fans for their support, and I respect the criticism of others.
I repeat, happiness to all, and above all, good health. Hala Madrid!
He may have an unshakable passion for conflict, but he is a sentimentalist at heart. Mourinho has a problem with authority, but he craves the love of the fans.
He has spent an exhausting three years at the Bernabeu, feuding with club officials and struggling to meet lofty expectations.
Former Real player Manolo Sanchis once said of Real: "It’s a very demanding club. It is very hard to live for a long time with a club as complicated as Real Madrid" (via Daily Mail).
"It is a machine so big, so powerful and so merciless that sometimes in its way it often ends up trampling an occasional life."
Mourinho's is not an occasional life. He has been described as a mercenary, but such a bristling personality and a thirst for new challenges was never going to see him spend more than five years in Spain.
There is the famous ego. It is about him—it always has been. From finger pokes to knee slides, Real's successes were his, as were their failures.
No player was bigger than him—ask Iker Casillas—who dared to challenge his authority.
When Mourinho told his players to pull in the same direction in December, the veteran goalkeeper reportedly replied "What does that mean? All of us go in the direction that you want to go?" (via Daily Mail).
He will be missed though—mourned by the same dressing room he supposedly lost control of.
He fights hard to be nonchalant, but beneath the veneer there is a man who only wants the respect and adoration of his players.
Mourinho now heads inexorably back to London to take charge of a Chelsea squad brimming with young talent.
His previous relationship with owner Roman Abramovich ended in a bitter power struggle, but it seems the Russian billionaire is willing to loosen his grip on the reigns at Stamford Bridge in the pursuit of glory.
Mourinho's reintroduction to England is a boost the Premier League needs. He breeds success, not just media scrums.
The Manchester clubs and Arsenal will live in fear over the summer at the prospect of a Mourinho-managed Chelsea attack containing Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar and another big-name, big-money signing.
He has never failed. He didn't fail in Madrid—he was just unlucky to be working in the Barcelona era, winning one of three.
Even his biggest detractors will be expecting him to win at Chelsea. How many think Real will be left stronger by his departure?
What will Jose Mourinho's legacy ultimately be at Real? Will he be missed?
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