Jose Mourinho Says He's Not Had 'Even the Minimum Contact' with Real Madrid

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2019

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho sets the extra time during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday Dec. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
Dave Thompson/Associated Press

Jose Mourinho has said he's not been in contact with Real Madrid amid rumours the Spanish giants want him to replace Santiago Solari as manager.

Mourinho spoke to El Chiringuito (h/t Zinny Boswell of Sky Sports) about Real fans chanting his name during the club's shock 4-1 defeat against a Dusan Tadic-inspired Ajax in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday:

"I am proud of that, but Real Madrid have a manager. Obviously it's a reason to be proud but nothing more than that. There has been nothing (between me and the club)—not even the minimum contact. I haven't done that (spoken to the players or the president). Like you say, there are rumours. But rumours in football are bad."

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Tuesday's result condemned Real, winners of the Champions League in each of the last three seasons, to an early exit after a 5-3 aggregate defeat. Elimination has sparked fresh speculation about both Solari's future and a possible return to the Spanish capital for Mourinho.

Former Real president Ramon Calderon told Sky Sports News (h/t Boswell) how current club president Florentino Perez wants to reunite with the Portuguese coach: "I have no doubt Mourinho is the first option for the president. He's been called in the last few weeks."

Goal @goal

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Calderon's words could well prove prophetic as Solari's position looks close to untenable after recent setbacks.

Prior to the collapse against Ajax, in a tie that Real led 2-1 after the first leg, Los Blancos had been eliminated from the Copa del Rey at the semi-final stage after bitter rivals Barcelona left the Santiago Bernabeu with a 3-0 win.

A 1-0 defeat at home to Barca in La Liga all-but ended any hopes of Solari lifting the domestic title, coming as it did soon after a 2-1 home loss to Girona.

Even so, Solari, who replaced Julen Lopetegui in the dugout back in October, remains defiant about his position. The Argentinian has said he won't resign, per MailOnline's Pete Jenson.

Solari may be determined, but it's difficult to see how he can cling on if Perez is serious about giving Mourinho another chance.

The 56-year-old managed Real for three seasons from 2010, a mixed tenure that took in Copa del Rey and La Liga triumphs but also saw Mourinho criticised for his style of play and repeated spats with the opposition and press.

Mourinho's eventful first tenure in charge of Real divided many of the fans.
Mourinho's eventful first tenure in charge of Real divided many of the fans.PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/Getty Images

Mourinho's stock is also low after an equally troubled stint at Manchester United came to end with him being sacked back in December. Once again, concerns about his dour approach to matches and ability to get along with players and the media prompted his downfall.

Despite his troubles in Manchester, this isn't the first time Mourinho has had to downplay talk he will return to Madrid.

During a recent appearance for beIN Sports (h/t Alex Richards of the Daily Mirror), he said he had been at fault during his first stint in Spain:

"I made mistakes, but after, the experience made me a better manager and person."

"What do you want to me say, rumours are rumours. I wouldn't have a problem going back to Madrid, Porto, Chelsea, Inter, any team that I have managed."

The idea Mourinho became a better manager after his time in Madrid is a tough pill to swallow. After all, he followed it by getting the sack from both Chelsea and United.

Yet he still delivered trophies in both places, winning the Premier League and Capital One Cup during a second spell with the Blues. He followed it with a UEFA Europa League win and EFL Cup trophy for United.

Such a track record suggests Mourinho could reinvigorate a Real squad enduring a historic run of misery:

Sid Lowe @sidlowe

Seven days, three home defeats, 8-1 agg score, all three competitions gone, one after other, cup, league, European Cup, season over on 5 March, the day before their birthday, Barça now historically better in clásicos 96-95... probably the worst week Real Madrid have ever had.

There are several issues, not least the failure to replace goalscoring talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, who was sold to Juventus last summer. Injury problems for Gareth Bale and key players ageing in both midfield and defence haven't made Solari's job easy.

Further concerns involve the long-term planning at a club stung by the sudden departure of Zinedine Zidane last May after the Frenchman had orchestrated the hat-trick of Champions League trophies.

Robbie Dunne @robbiejdunne

As soon as Zidane announced that presser and said he was leaving, Real Madrid were backpedaling, putting out fires and reacting instead of implementing their own plans.

Mourinho's well-worn ability to set teams up to grind out results would certainly help stabilise things for Los Blancos. He also has the strength of personality to restore the swagger missing from a squad that lost its fear factor once Ronaldo moved to Turin.

Perez will be acutely aware of how Barca are leaving Real trailing domestically, while neighbours Atletico Madrid have also become a significant force on Diego Simeone's watch. Making up ground on both is the obvious priority.

However, Real's tradition of winning while playing expansive, artful football may demand a more progressive choice than Mourinho.