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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Mourinho Has Us All Looking The Wrong Way

Written by on April 20, 2011 | 13 Comments »
Posted in General, Real Madrid

With the first game played last Saturday, Real Madrid plays Barcelona four times in 18 days in a unprecedented series of matches.

On face value only one trophy is at stake and that will decided in game two that goes tonight in Valencia – the final of the Copa del Rey.

But there is a definitive sense that we are dealing with much more than a domestic cup and a place in the Champions League final that will decided in the next two weeks.

Barcelona have the very real possibility of completing a second treble in just three seasons and cementing a place amongst the greatest club teams we have ever seen – perhaps the best ever, some will argue.

On the other side are Real Madrid, a club trying desperately to show Europe and the world that they are the sort of legitimate contenders they have imagined themselves to be for close to a decade.

With such story lines the papers and the internet should be alive with talk of players, line-ups, head-to-head confrontations and controversial decisions.

Instead we have one man dominating the headlines and he is not even a player.

To some Jose Mourinho is as welcome as a hangover, but you cannot question his ability to pull us into his tangled web.

Last week his first shot across the bow came when he announced that he had his Madrid players practicing playing 10 v 11 with the 11 representing Barcelona of course. No matter that most teams do this on a routine basis, his “admission” was flashed around the globe.

(Of course the fact that Albiol was sent off and that almost half the the game on Saturday was played with Real a man short allowed Jose to land another jab with a “just once I would like to play them 11 against 11,” comment post-game.)

However, it really kicked off with a press conference he attended but refused to speak at last week. His silence precipitated a walk out by petulant journalists and that became the story.

Then there was the pointed criticism from Xavi, Johan Cruyff and Real legend Alfredo di Stefano of Real Madrid’s timid and defensive tactics after the 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu. “Madrid did not want to play,” ” this game confirmed that Jose Mourinho is a negative coach,” and “Barcelona were a lion and Madrid a mouse,” were some of the better quotes after Saturday match.

By Monday you would have thought that we might have got down to thinking and talking about tonight’s final in Valencia but no. Instead we all became interested in Mourinho’s childrens’ education.

Reserving spots for his kids at a school within an hour’s drive of Inter’s training ground led to claims that Mourinho was heading back to Inter and that he would quit Madrid at the end of the season.

But Mourinho is absolutely oblivious to the controversy and headlines as he plays soccer journalists and reporters like a cheap guitar. Oblivious perhaps but still intentional.

He has pulled these stunts so many times but just like a defender who watches the man and not the ball at his feet we are focused on the wrong thing.

While we are reading and talking and arguing about Mourinho, the Real Madrid players are preparing without the full glare of the world’s soccer media on them.

There were things that Real Madrid did quite poorly on Saturday but there was also many things that they did well and many that will have rejuvinated the team’s confidence.

After losing so heavily to Barcelona at the end of last season and trailing in their wake throughout the domestic league season it was vital that Real put in a strong performance.

Barcelona may have dominated possession but Real Madrid’s display after going down 1-0 and having to play a man short was a sign that just like at Porto, Inter and Chelsea, the players are now buying into the Jose Mourinho school of self belief.

Is the great illusionist doing it again?

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13 responses to “Mourinho Has Us All Looking The Wrong Way”

  1. rahul says:

    great article. Mourinho is genius when it comes to the media (and obviously the pitch). I am sure the focus is on the Champions league above all, and as you pointed out the first of the four games was like a first leg, where a win would be nice, but the idea would be not to lose any momentum going into the important games…there was that clip where Guardiola said that Mourinho/Real were holding back for the other games. basically, game 1 was a minor skirmish…(relatively)

  2. Boris says:

    I sure hope this game will be more entertaining that the one this week-end. I take that back, I am sure it will be. There is more to play for here as La Premiera is pretty much decided.
    I have to admit though that the defensive battles last week-end were rather intriguing.

  3. Boris says:

    Slightly off topic,

    Being a fan of midfield players, a player I haven’t heard being mentioned too much but who has shown class is Nuri Sahin, German-born Turkish international who plays for Borussia Dortmund.
    He has been the integral part of Dortumd’s Bundesliga title run and could be moving clubs come summer transfer window. Interestingly enough, Dortmund have announced that they made a bid for Ivan Perisic from Clube Brugge in Belgium. However, he may not be seen as a replacement should Sahin leave as Perisic plays a very advanced attacking role. He is currently the second leading scorer in the Belgian League and I think he is another talented youngster worthy of being mentioned.

  4. Soccerlogical says:

    Sahin still has 2 years left on his contract. It would be to his advantage to get 1 season of CL experience with Dortmund and then transfer, as opposed to leaving now and sitting on the bench for the likes of Madrid or Barca.

    Having said that, Wenger is an admirer of Nuri and he would be an automatic replacement for Cesc.

  5. Boris says:

    I agree with you Soccerlogical.

  6. […] ever-excellent Bobby McMahon, however, saw some steel in the performance that suggests the players might be finally buying into […]

  7. Gus Keri says:

    The worst part about the Wed games is the fact that all big games take place at the same time.
    Arsenal, Chelsea, Milan, PSG, Celtic and the Spanish and the Portuguese cup matches.

  8. Boris says:

    Yeah. I am recording Tottenham and Copa Del Rey.

  9. Soccerlogical says:

    Let’s see if Hleb can “walk the walk” after arrogantly stating that he’s too creative and pass oriented for Birmingham’s style of play.

  10. Boris says:

    Wow, what a game between Tottenham and Arsenal. Once again, the two London teams do not disappoint. I cannot wait to get home to watch this.

  11. Gus Keri says:

    I wonder what Wenger said for Rednapp to make that face. No salty language from him like Dalglish

  12. Danh says:

    Real is not my cup of coffee, but Mourinho sure make the beverage much sweeter. His “school of self belief” will surely solidified today after beating FCB in the Copa de Rey. What a final. The momentum surely swing toward Madrid for Wembley.

  13. brklynstrr says:

    4 classico’s in a 18 days was a gift from the futbol gods…and mourinho has stolen the gift and s#@t on us all…let ur boys play…..everyone wants to see the beautiful game….not a stalemate

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