Not José Mourinho or Rafael Benítez, but Continuation with Manuel Pellegrini

Khalid KhanCorrespondent IApril 26, 2010

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 1: Rafael Benitez manager of Liverpool and Jose Mourinho manager of Chelsea give thier orders from the sidelines during the FA Barclays Premiership match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on January 1, 2005 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Daily newspapers of Madrid like Marca and AS are inventing and spreading rumors which they are and have been so good at. At present the latest victim of their somewhat unwarranted offense is Real Madrid’s head coach, Manuel Pellegrini.

Following ouster from Champions League in the pursuit of that elusive La Decima and loss to Barcelona in the second El Clásico, death squad is out on the streets and Pellegrini is the hunted man.

Under Pellegrini, Madrid has had some spectacular failures but has definitively and measurably improved in part if not as a whole. But impatient and reckless columnists in Madrid papers have already done all but perform the last rites of Pellegrini.

Pellegrini’s stewardship has seen many firsts achieved and more can be achieved still.

The team has already reached the 83 point mark, which is only two short of its all-time high of 85 in 2007-2008, and can still get to 98 points.

Take most season wins to all-time high of 32, breaking the 28 win record of 1987-1988 set by themselves, equal home record of 17 wins (their own record in 1985-1986) and better it to 18, away wins to 14 by breaking the Atlético Madrid record of 13 made in 1995-1996, and consecutive away win record to 10 where current record is eight under Juande Ramos in 2008-2009.

So there is still so much to play for and achieve.

For all his mistakes and failings, Pellegrini has done an admirable job and deserves to be given at least another year to do his thing with this team.

Under him, it continues to improve and bond together then come next season, Madridistas can hope for more.

Fans in and outside of Madrid are continuing to realize that this repeated and incessant hiring and firing of coaches, in both tenures of currently incumbent president Florentino Pérez, just cannot go on forever and has already left the club in bad shape.

There is no clear philosophy or sporting vision and only demonic desire (of president) to succeed quickly at all costs.

Sooner or later something’s gonna have to give, be that impatient attitude and/or presidents that breed and thrive on politics, power, and media attention or maybe all of it.

There has not been any, clear or vague, indication, yet, from Florentino Pérez as what he may do in the summer.

In his on-going first year of second presidency, he has seemingly kept his hands out of sporting affairs for a large part but his past record suggests the worst for Pellegrini.

But in the shape of Jorge Valdano, the Director General of Real Madrid, there may be a savior present for the beleaguered coach.

After Champions League exit through loss to Lyon in the second leg of the pre-quarter final, Valdano said, "We respect him [Pellegrini] because we trust his work, although we know Real's coach is always accompanied by controversy. He has a contract for next season and the plan is to keep our coach.”

He again reiterated his support, after losing to Barcelona in the second El Clásico, for the coach by saying, "The coach has all of our support [for now]."

Valdano has also said that, "I did not hear the Bernabéu asking for the removal of the coach, it is a proof of the maturity...True, I read articles against Pellegrini from aggressive journalists that are fighting against him, but I think there is the general feeling of support."

Many team members have also come out in media to support Pellegrini so any locker room rebellion is definitely not on.

At the moment, media favorites for the hot-seat at Santiago Bernabéu are Rafael Benítez and José Mourinho with former ahead of the latter in online polls by Madrid press. Both are successful coaches and know how to handle big players and media.

Curiously, all have successfully managed to overlook the fact that both coaches’ styles do not suit Real’s preference.

Both are defensive, often field defensive formations like 4-5-1 & 4-2-3-1; playing pragmatic, less enterprising, unimaginative, no-frills, no risk, less technical game in a predictable and boring playing style employing tactical ploys (mostly using defensive chinks of oppositions rather than creating their own chances), are more physical and less artistic in the way their teams play; a style not favored by the Bernabéu faithful.

Benítez has a hard-nosed reputation, (in)famous for squad rotation which serves to hold players fighting for their places and reducing exhaustion. His team exhibit efficiency, offensive and midfield players are also assigned defensive duties and defensive players support the offense.

His team, Liverpool’s low-scoring record (only in 2008-2009 Liverpool scored 77 goals, its highest under Benítez) and long balls tactics (less on short passing) is also an aspect bound to be repulsive at Real.

Charismatic José Mourinho aka "The Special One," would be a Galactico coach for a team of Galacticos and has many times expressed his desire to win all of the big three European league championships.

He already has won Premier League and Serie A so now only La Liga remains to be won. He is a tactical genius but also a bit opportunistic in his style, his teams are typically tightly-knit, defensive, low-scoring, organized, and style-over-substance outfits.

Because of his combative, confrontational, and intensely competitive personality he will definitely be no sooner rather than later in a pitched battle with sensationalizing and destabilizing Madrid media notably Marca and AS.

However, he has a positive in that he tends to shield his players from the media pressures and criticism.

José subjects look up to him, respect him, love him, adore him, and are loyal to him. José becomes a rock for his players, soaking up all the pressure and trying to keep media attention on solely himself.

Diego Milito told Gazzetta dello Sport: "There is no coach like him when it comes to sticking his neck out and defending everyone, that way reducing the tension within the team when things aren't going well. It's no fluke that after a defeat, Inter gets straight back on its feet. That's all thanks to Mourinho."

If chosen, this loud showman may well become the face of Real Madrid, eclipsing all others; team and administration, in local and global attention.

Maybe above all else, José is a strong person always full of inspiration and confidence in his abilities to coach and win, no opposition is too strong for him, no task is too big, and how to motivate and support his players. He shows no weakness whatsoever, ever, and that is even when he is wrong.

A master of mind games and an often-employed siege mentality “US against THEM.”

Though he would in all likelihood, want to return to Premier League where he is revered and loves the attention of English media. But if Benítez moves to Real Madrid then José will have an opening to go back to Premier League and to his initially favored club Liverpool where he wanted to go even before taking over at Chelsea.

Even if much-hyped rumors linking him to El Madrid never materialize, José can use them to raise his profile for any future openings.

If history is an indication and anything to go by, then Jorge Valdano will never have considered Benítez and Mourinho for Real Madrid because he has thrown criticism at them in the past that they are destroying the century-old spectacle of the beautiful game through direct, physical and tactical play of Liverpool and Chelsea.

He famously wrote in his column in Marca in 2007: "Chelsea and Liverpool are the clearest, most exaggerated example of the way football is going: very intense, very collective, very tactical, very physical, and very direct," he wrote. "But, a short pass? No. A feint? No. A change of pace? No. A one-two? A nutmeg? A backheel? Don't be ridiculous. None of that.

"If Didier Drogba was the best player in the first match it was purely because he was the one who ran the fastest, jumped the highest and crashed into people the hardest. Such extreme intensity wipes away talent, even leaving a player of Joe Cole's class disoriented.

"If football is going the way Chelsea and Liverpool are taking it, we had better be ready to wave goodbye to any expression of the cleverness and talent we have enjoyed for a century."

Therefore, if these are the two top choices for Real Madrid’s coach then one can safely (or unsafely because it is Real Madrid) assume that Valdano will not approve of their appointment and in absence of any other top coach on the market, Pellegrini’s position is safe, for now that is.


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