In his fixation on José Mourinho, Florentino Pérez has prevailed over Jorge Valdano and has made his choice (which he was denied last year because of varied reasons), so the chosen one now moves closer to arriving at Bernabéu.
For it, he has already been cursed for negating stability, continuity, sacrificing aesthetics and opting for a defensive coach to win trophies (which strangely in his way of seeing things is “stability”). It is a gamble that if backfired will have big implications for his presidency.
As José Mourinho’s €16 million contract rescission clause is impeding faster progress in negotiations, he, in recent days is apparently trying to dispel his widely-believed image of a defensive, boring coach whose primary focus revolves around tightly-knit defense and organization.
José is trying to mollify apprehensions of Real Madrid fans while also clarifying his intentions on the style of play.
He discusses and elaborates on his future game plan to sports daily AS, “My Madrid will always play well, will attack, and win.”
But in the same breathe he goes on to favor pragmatism. “However, there will be moments that one will have to take on a match in a different way. My team will take the pitch with one thing in mind: win. And if we win by 3-1 and are left with ten men on the pitch, my players will have to work together to defend."
Still, as is to be expected he builds his teams from defense upward and therefore first of all he is looking to sign three, or four, defenders who are also capable on offense.
"I like to play with four at the back, but my teams are also prepared to play with three. I have won a lot of matches playing with just three defenders.”
While being flexible and adaptive, or at least trying to be, he is not completely going out of the way to appease Madridistas in every way but is rather advocating a balance between offense and defense as the way to move forward. "It will be a team with an equilibrium.”
José talked about how to establish his own brand of soccer in a land where Barça has become the yardstick and benchmark in so many aspects, “We will have our own identity and will not imitate anyone. We will brand the game with our players and myself.”
He was also indicative of his possible formations. “My midfield can play as either a diamond or a triangle. If we play as a triangle, I prefer three forwards," suggesting 4-1-2-1-2 and 4-3-3 as likely candidates.
As he takes the reins, we can expects him to make it final but with a narrow formation like 4-1-2-1-2 José will get criticism like Pellegrini did in the absence of a left winger. In this format, signings of wingers can be avoided but if he goes for 4-3-3 then Real will have to enter market for quality wingers and wingback(s) and already Mourinho has been reported to name Jesus Navas of Sevilla and Angel Di Maria of Benfica as his choices.
Though some may still be wary of José's ability to play beautiful and entertaining soccer, Jorge Valdano, director general of Real Madrid, who lost in his aim to keep Manuel Pellegrini, has expressed cautious optimism about José. “He’s intelligent and I’m sure he’s going to understand which country he’s coming to, which city and which club,” he said.
As of now, such optimism, however cautious, is not contagious.
Still, stranger things have happened in soccer.