The Lead

Everything about this story stinks. Marca is reporting that Jose Mourinho and Florentino Pérez have come to an agreement which will see the Portuguese manager leave the club in June. The reason? It seems to come down to worries about the “image” of the club:

Marca, which is known to have strong links with Real, reports that Pérez has become concerned by a number of incidents this season which have not cast the club in a good light.

Firstly, there was an incident with Sergio Ramos which saw the Spain defender put on Mesut Oezil’s shirt underneath his own after the German was substituted at half-time of a game against Deportivo La Coruña.

Ramos later claimed he was merely showing support for his team-mate but the move was perceived as an attempt to undermine Mourinho’s authority. Ramos was later dropped.

There was also the public spat with Alberto Toril, manager of the reserve side Real Madrid Castilla, who play in the Segunda Division. Mourinho accused Toril of focusing too much on results rather than trying to produce young players for the first team.

The “final straw” was apparently Mourinho’s decision to parade himself in front of his own supporters Saturday night in the Madrid derby against Atletico in order for them to have at him with whatever idiocy they felt was necessary.

I’m going to try to be balanced here but I failed as soon as I started writing the lead this morning. Real Madrid fans—at least those who would take the time to berate Jose Mourinho, the manager who led the team to an unlikely La Liga title against a superior Barcelona side last season and is their best chance to over take them this season—represent the worst vices of supporters of “big clubs.” These are the fans so used to silverware, they’ve forgotten the effort, organization, and luck involved in attaining it. Moreover, they’re incapable of seeing past the pointed-but-relatively-minor personality flaws of their otherwise gifted coach, and the relative skill of the Barcelona team they so desperately want to best.

As for this supposed laundry list of grievances that led to this, as reasons for sacking the best manager in Europe they are beyond pathetic. First, Sergio Ramos is at fault for publicly embarrassing Mourinho for a reasonable tactical choice in selecting the first team; the latter should not be held accountable for disciplining him.

Second, the dispute with the Real Madrid Castilla coach indicates a larger problem with Real Madrid’s youth policy, in that it clearly doesn’t form a cohesive pathway to the first team under Mourinho’s vision. This dispute could have provided Pérez to answer a key weakness in the RM model, but he missed the opportunity. Perhaps Pérez’s legacy as the Galacticos president—a guy who signs the world’s brightest and best—is at fault.

Finally, Mourinho’s display was perhaps gaudy on Sunday, but would not have been necessary with the public backing of Pérez, who instead thought of himself and the presidential elections coming up next year. Perhaps he might also consider the very real possibility that Real Madrid might not only win the Champions League, but overtake Barcelona in the league at some stage as well. Real’s numbers compared to Barcelona’s, at least in terms of TSR, indicate the title race could theoretically tighten between now and the Spring.

Moreover, Real Madrid’s players will be aware that with Mourinho’s sacking, there will be a likely player cull, meaning it would be in their best interests to put any personal differences with their manager aside and play to look good.

Pérez for his part can only hope that Mourinho fails and fails badly between now and June. But what is certain is he will not find a more talented manager, nor one more capable of beating Barcelona, if not in head-to-head meetings, then over the long-term. That means he will have to address the Real Madrid model—splashing cash to buy great players and lure a World Class manager to lead them. There is objective evidence that even in its best iteration (arguably the current Real Madrid team), it isn’t good enough to beat a club like Barcelona with an established cradle-to-grave career development system.

If he misses these opportunities, Real Madrid fans should be wary of re-electing him. Sadly, based on the vitriol directed Mourinho’s way, a genius with a habit of being a dick now and again, chances are Mourinho will go no matter what happens, and Pérez will be rewarded for his irresponsibly near-sighted vision. As it stands, the club deserves the one and not the other.

England

Chelsea deny Avram Grant return rumour.

BVB’s chief executive slams Premier League foreign ownership.

Arsenal to rest key players for Champions League match this week.

Newcastle still in contract talks with Demba Ba.

Italy

Inter coach says Sneijder not a victim of bullying.

Milan keeping Pato and Robinho despite transfer rumours.

La Liga

Jose Mourinho to exit Real Madrid in the summer.

The weekend in review with Tim Stannard.

Valencia reveal new coach.

Soldado says players to blame for Pellegrino’s sacking.

Germany

Rene Adler’s impressive start to the season could make him Germany’s starting goalkeeper.

Bayern likely without Badstuber for the rest of the season.

Hoffenheim continues to struggle.

MLS

Kaka to replace Beckham?

Bit and Bobs

Cruyff sacked by Mexican side Chivas.

Messi and Ronaldo’s impact on football.

Video showcasing Ronaldo’s speed.

Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.