The Lead

A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of speaking with former Real Madrid TV presenter Kay Murray on the Counter Attack podcast. Her remarks on Jose Mourinho’s legacy at Madrid were particularly insightful; Murray said that Mourinho’s paternal style clashed with a long-standing culture of player power at the club, which meant as soon as the team struggled in the league, the leaks to the press began to appear.

Real Madrid has long been a club where the manager plays a distant second fiddle to the starting XI. This stretches back to the days of Alfredo Di Stefano and Puskas, through to the “Ye-yé” side of the mid-sixties, up through the Galácticos era of the early naughts. As Francisco Gento, an original Madrista from the early days of the European Cup, has said in the past, no one remembered the coaches at the Bernebeu.

Jose Mourinho of course doesn’t work this way. He believes in players in the way a father believes in his sons, as Michael Cox pointed out in an excellent summary for ESPNFC this morning:

Jose Mourinho is a clever coach on the training ground and a shrewd strategist from the dugout, but his major quality as a football manager is the emotional bond he develops with players.

He spent his early 20s studying for a degree in sports science, where he was particularly fascinated by the psychological side of football. He believes the most difficult part of management is leading a group of players from different backgrounds, cultures and nationalities, communicating with them individually yet treating them as one group.

Galatasaray’s Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba, who face Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid in Champions action, are but two examples of the close ties that the manager builds with his players.

“I don’t know how he does it,” says Karim Benzema. “He has some sort of trick, and everybody listens to him.

Everybody save some of his bitter underlings at Real Madrid. The lesson of this time there, regardless of what he’s able to achieve in Europe from here on in, is that the next club that welcomes him should alert the players who, in fact, is the boss. That even includes Chelsea football club, not exactly notorious for the humility of its players.

Missed yesterday’s podcast? Have a listen:


Carlos Tevez to do community service.

Drogba says Mourinho belongs at Chelsea.

Rodgers dismisses Reina rumours.


Beckenbauer slams Buffon for failing to save Alaba’s shot.

Napoli’s Campagnaro confirms he’s held negotiations with Inter Milan.

La Liga

Good news for Barcelona, Messi’s injury not as bad as initially feared.

Real Sociedad’s sporting director extends contract.


Bayern Munich confirm the worst, Kroos to miss the entire season.

Bit and Bobs

New documents reveal military dictatorship kept tabs on Pele.

FIFA prefers German engineering for goal-line technology.

Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.