Mourinho rides roller-coaster to glory

2012-05-03 09:31

Madrid – Jose Mourinho has succeeded in bringing the La Liga title to Real Madrid in his second season, just days after bitter rival Pep Guardiola decided to walk away from deposed champions Barcelona.

After a first season which left plenty of doubts about the direction that Real were going, Mourinho has now managed to overturn a Barcelona side which has been described as one of the best of all time.

Guardiola’s team won the last three Spanish titles and two Champions Leagues in a spell where they claimed 13 of a possible 16 trophies.

Mourinho also joins Austrian Ernst Happel and Italian veteran Giovanni Trapattoni in having coached clubs to four different league titles.

Real have managed this through remarkable consistency and breathtaking attacking football with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the way as the Portuguese took on the challenge of Lionel Messi, Barcelona’s World Player of the Year.

While Barca though have become dependent on Messi in attack, Real crucially have an array of goal scorers with Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema also providing their fair share.

The club had already broken the league’s record 107 goals in a season held by John Toshack’s Real side from the 1989-90 season.

President Florentino Perez brought in the all-conquering Mourinho in 2010 to lead his project of toppling the Catalan club after already triumphing in Portugal, England and Italy with Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan.

Perez, who had overseen the rise and fall of the ‘galacticos’ where glamour players like Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham arrived at the club, had returned to the presidency a year before.

He was now willing to accept the abrasive Mourinho, who had been the cause of almost constant storm clouds in Italy due to his frictional relationship with other trainers and the press.

After Mourinho’s first season there was still a lot of work to be done as Barca had beaten them to the league and knocked them out of the Champions League at the semifinal stage with Real’s only success coming in the King’s Cup, the lesser of the three.

Mourinho’s approach was also called into question for the way that his side had sought to stop Barca through aggression when the teams had met.

Many Real fans felt that the Portuguese was going against the traditions of the club as especially in the Champions League semifinal at the Bernabeu, the tactic seemed merely to defend and stop Barca at all costs with Pepe dismissed.

There appeared to be little change at the start of this season when Barcelona won the domestic Super Cup against Real and the match descended into a brawl when Marcelo was red carded for reckless challenge on Cesc Fabregas.

In the melee Mourinho was seen to poke his finger in the eye of Barca assistant coach Tito Vilanova.

As the season has unfolded though Real have demonstrated an ominous consistency which Barcelona have not been able to live with.

Barca still had the edge in the head-to-heads with a 3-1 win at the Bernabeu in December followed by a victory in the King’s Cup and despite the fact that Real were still in front in the league, this was crucial for many supporters.

Mourinho was booed during a 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu in January, their 23rd win from 25 games, to keep them five-points clear at the top.

“Zidane was whistled here, Ronaldo was also whistled and Cristiano Ronaldo, a Golden Ball winner, as well, so why can’t I?” said Mourinho afterwards.

“If they jeered me at a club where they don’t normally jeer then maybe I would be worried. It never happened at Porto, Chelsea or Inter so this is a first.”

Real stretched their lead to 10 points as Barcelona stuttered especially away from home but in the title run-in they endured a nervous spell where it was cut to four.

The decisive game was the 2-1 victory over Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

This had added significance as finally Mourinho as Real coach had beaten Barca on their home ground and realised the shift in the power base that Perez had brought him in for.

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