Can Mourinho really cook?
Can Mourinho really cook?
by Vinnie Venezuela
Don’t tell him I said this, but there are times when I think The Special One is awesome. Anyone who can make Marco Materazzi weep like a wee baby as he did when he left the ground after Inter’s Champion’s League win in 2010 must be special. Either that or he gave Marco the phone number of Zidane’s sister.
Jose certainly taps into the psyche of his players and gets them believing they are invincible to which they whisper something like “You complete me ...” and then go out and plunder, bringing him a carcass or a cup to help celebrate. Of course, when it comes to referees, The Special One prefers to hunt alone.
Jose is also the thinking man’s manager and though pre and post game press conferences can test a friendship, his game plans and match day team tweaks are always the stuff of legend. Like it or not, the record books will show that Mourinho gets the job done. Despite coming second, Real Madrid had a super season; Ronaldo proved again to be worth every cent, Benzema finally found form and Ozil added heaps when played properly. Even ‘Lamb of God’, Kaka came back from the dead.
The biggest challenge for Mourhino is probably the smorgasbord of choice he has at his finger tips and the pressure to win while playing beautifully. He certainly knows how to get the results, but it’s not always pretty and when players like Ronaldo voice frustration at being held back, you know that not all is well in Mourinho world.
The best game I’ve seen Real play this year, maybe ever, was that first half of the Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona. Real was rampant, it defended high, was super fast, pressured Barca for every second when it lost the ball, got it back and really had the Catalans rattled. When the teams went in at half time, it felt as if we were about to witness major regime change as Barca looked like a one trick pony whereas Real had momentum, a clear plan and a quality bench to keep the good times rolling.
Perhaps the one thing they lacked that night though was oxygen because they came out a different squad and pretty much sat back, giving Barca the chance to show that it’s ok to be a one trick pony when you have one really, really cool trick. In the end, Real did do enough to win it and De Maria’s cross in extra time to the omnipresent and pumped ‘Gelled one’ aka CR7 was spectacular. In fact, I wept like Materazzi.
History, however, will show that despite the intensity of the last four El Classicos, not to mention the ill will, send offs and nasty post game accusations, Barcelona’s mesmerising brand of football got them another Primera Liga title and a spot in the Champion’s league final.
More importantly, Barca’s success celebrates the idea that identifying a style of play and having faith in the personnel to deliver should remain every club’s objective. This team is a testament of what quality, vision and time can produce. Interestingly, while the Champions League Final pits two very clear styles against one another, Sir Alex has also forged a very consistent brand of football. That game should be a cracker.
Real Madrid is like a menu with too many dishes and I just wish Mourinho would cook something truly memorable with his quality ingredients. For me, that Copa Del Rey first half was the way forward, but we never saw it again in any of the following encounters. To give Guardiola credit, he responded by playing Mourinho at his own game, sitting back and stifling the Madrid midfield and momentum. What he didn’t do is sacrifice any of the team’s signature movements.
Real Madrid has pretty much been a team known for having players who became famous playing somewhere else but it also seems to be a club that is aware that it hasn’t delivered anything legendary for a long, long time. While Mourinho will certainly go down in history, it shouldn’t be for being a self proclaimed human headline or for winning ugly. The pressure is on him to use his time in the Madrid kitchen wisely.
Let’s hope he gives us something to savour.