MADRID: The issue of the coach of Real Madrid erupted in the wake of the Spanish club’s aggregate defeat by Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League semi-final second in the Estadio Bernabeu writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Two late goals brought Madrid a 2-0 win on the night but which was not quite enough to overcome the 4-1 defeat a week ago in the heart of the Ruhr.
Dortmund thus reached the final for the second in their history and are likely to face fellow Germans Bayern Munich who are likely to overcome Barcelona in Camp Nou tonight; Bayern lead 4-0 from their own first leg.
Madrid’s bitter disappointment at falling short of a record-extending 10th Champions’ crown is likely to be expressed in the departure of Jose Mourinho after three contentious seasons which have shaken Madrid to the core, ended the Classico domination of Barcelona but divided opinions among media and fans.
Mourinho will surely be exercised by the dent to his pride and sense of destiny that he was not the coach to deliver history for the world’s richest club.
Even so, the most likely options for him now appear to be a return to Chelsea in the English Premier League or a new challenge altogether with Paris Saint-Germain with the possibility – probability even – of winning a league title in a fifth country (after Portugal with Porto, England with Chelsea, Italy with Internazionale and Spain with Madrid).
The Paris appeal – and there is no doubting the Qatari owners’ ability to match Mourinho’s estimation of his financial value – would be a breadth of control which would be absent from Chelsea.
PSG’s technical director Leonardo is heading back to Italy in the summer to take over at Internazionale. This would break the manager/coach link with Carlo Ancelotti who was high on Real Madrid’s agenda before Mourinho became available in 2010. Hence the prospect of a vacancy opening up in Paris once the French league title has been secured.
And then there is Chelsea . . . many of whose fans and players are convinced that Russian oligarch owner Roman Abramovich need only say the word and Mourinho will come swaggering back in through the gates of Stamford Bridge.
The attraction, on the face of it, is not so obvious. Mourinho and Abramovich parted on bad terms in October 2007 after the Portuguese ‘Special One’ had led Chelsea to their first two league titles in half a century.
Also, Abramovich is so hemmed about with football advisers and administrators – both personally and within the club – that Mourinho would ‘own’ only a restricted space of operation. Also, he would have at his disposal possibly less spending money than at PSG which is still an expanding operation.
For instance, Mourinho’s likely wish list could include includes Atletico Madrid’s Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski and Porto midfielder João Moutinho. All carry snags: Falcao may extend his Atletico spell while his wife awaits a baby while Lewandowski has been linked powerfully with both Bayern Munich and Manchester United.
Immediately off the back of Madrid’s winning defeat, Mourinho was asked whether he expected to be in charge still at the Bernabeu next season.
He said: “Maybe, maybe not. I want to be where people love me to be. I haven’t made a decision yet. I have a contract here. There is a respect I have for the club and for the president. I want to play the Spanish cup final against Atletico Madrid, finish the season and then sit down with the president Florentino Perez and decide the best for me.
“I know in England I am loved — by the fans, by the media, that treat me fairly: criticising me when I deserve it but also giving me credit where I deserve it. I know I am loved by some clubs, especially one.
“In Spain, it is a big difference because some people hate me — many in this [press-conference] room. It is difficult to make a decision because I like the club here and we have made a fantastic team that is ready to do fantastic things, so it is hard.
“I like the club. I like the president. I need to be honest and fair. At the end of the season, I will speak.”
Certainly Chelsea need a new manager. Rafa Benítez will leave just as soon as his contract as interim manager expires, whether the Blues qualify for the Champions League or not. Other names on the target list have included Malaga’s Chilean Manuel Pellegrini, who has been brushing up on his English, Juventus’ Antonio Conte and Swansea’s Michael Laudrup (several of whom will be in the frame if Manchester City decide to call time on Roberto Mancini).
Of course, if Chelsea were pushed out of the Champions League slots in England by Arsenal and Tottenham, that could also have a bearing on Mourinho’s assessment of his next sensible step.
Do not expect any decision, then, before Chelsea wind up their Premier League season at home to Everton on May 19.
Mourinho has not built his reputation on hasty decisions.