Mourinho's Mantra Made Chelsea and Inter Great, But What About Real Madrid?
I couldn’t have been the only Chelsea fan watching the Champions League Final on Saturday night with a heavy case of the "What Ifs?"
Given our record in the competition, this is normal for us Blues when the European Cup final is on.
This time it was different.
Watching Inter's brick wall of a defence, its holding midfielder putting out fires everywhere, the pace of the flanks on the counter, all gave me a massive case of Déjà vu.
The names of Lucio, Samuel, Cambiasso, Eto’o and Pandev could so easily be replaced by those of Terry, Makelele, Robben and Duff.
The system and shape might differ but the football is the same from a Mourinho team.
This is Jose’s way. He’s never changed it and arguably, that makes him even more special.
We know how his sides will play: organised in defence, quick on the break, happy to play it long if it need be and eager to make every tackle.
We know all this. Trying to stop it is just another thing entirely.
The style, like any, has its faults. For example, it’s not the prettiest, and if you can isolate the holding player you can disrupt the system.
The lack of flair was a problem at Chelsea. It was the reason the relationship between Mourinho and Abramovich—who wanted style and bravado from his players, not just from his coach—broke down.
So, it was Inter and not Chelsea who faced Bayern in Madrid for the Champions League title.
This, along with the nagging frustration that the Inter victory was some sort of ghost of non-existent Chelsea, triumph prompted the "What Ifs."
When putting the two teams side by side there isn’t much difference in them at all. The only real gulf is probably between Mikel and Cambiasso, but that’s the current Chelsea side.
Personally, I don’t think the Argentine would get near Makelele in his prime. Cambiasso does play in a position casually referred to as "the Makelele role," after all.
For this reason I feel the result on Saturday is how the 2005 Final should have ended for the Londoners. The football was the same, but thanks to Luis Garcia and Liverpool, the result was not.
Now, it appears that both of these chapters in Mourinho’s career have reached their conclusion and the Bernabeu looks set to become his permanent home.
While some are hyping this as a match made in heaven, I can see plenty of potential problems for the Portuguese in the Spanish capital.
Spanish football is a hot bed of political undertones. Having a man who likes to crack walnuts with a sledgehammer at the helm probably won’t do much for Real’s public image, especially since the Galacticos like to appear whiter than their white kit.
Whilst at Chelsea, it was clear Jose wasn’t keen on Roman Abramovich’s "hands on" approach to running things. An approach that included giving advice on the team and even signing players without consulting him. Well, Real Madrid's board wrote the book on interfering with the team, so expect plenty of strained relations there.
On the pitch, Mourinho will also face challenges, including a team full of inflated egos as big as his own, and a group of supporters who admit that sometimes winning is not enough.
Real is a club that expects a beautiful victory in every competition they are in.
Whilst the humblings they’ve received at the hands of Barcelona in recent times will have reigned in ambitions slightly, these are the most demanding fans on the planet. Some of them would rather finish second than win a title by winning 1-0 every week.
Crazy, but that is Planet Real.
This seems too much of a complicated situation for any coach to sustain for a prolonged period.
Then again this is Jose Mourinho we’re talking about. He’s the "Special One." Maybe it would do the biggest club in the world some good to be overshadowed by one man for a change.
We know that Jose loves a challenge. No doubt this will be his biggest yet.
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