Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Finally, a worthy adversary

So Jose Mourinho is on his way to Spain. And in case you were wondering about Manuel Pellegrini, don't worry. Mr. Perez remembered he still had a manager and sacked him this afternoon. Let me digress for a moment to clarify something regarding the title of this very first blog of mine. I do not want anyone to think for a second that Pellegrini was not a worthy adversary. I have always respected and admired his managerial style especially with Villareal, where he implemented a Wenger-like, quick passing, possesion style of play. He brought Real Madrid to an unprecedented finish of 96 points. Going into the final day of the season, Real had won 18 of 19 games giving Barcelona no chance to slip up. But 2 losses to their arch rivals, and a 6th consecutive exit in the round of 16 in the Champions League buried any chance of his return. It wasn't enough, and in some ways, you always knew whatever he accomplished wouldn't be.

Now they've got their man. The "Special One." 8 years, 3 clubs, 18 trophies: 2 champions league titles, league cups, national cups, and the list goes on. Arguably the most feared, arrogant, self-centered, successful manager in the game. It's no wonder he is the perfect match for the most arrogant, self-centered, successful club team in European history. Now let's be careful when we call this group a team. Anyone who watched Real Madrid play this season witnessed an often gut wrenching display of individualism and miscommunication. Sure they got the results and plenty of goals - but the manner in which these results were achieved was almost impossible to watch for a full 90 minutes.

All that is going to change. Of the many things Mourinho excels at, perhaps his greatest strength is his ability to create a cohesive unit. His teams are always the most disciplined - keeping their shape in defense and attack. They play as he manages with a fearlessness and sense of entitlement. And when you look at this team, it is the one thing they're missing. I'm not saying Real Madrid didn't step into every game this past season against the minnows of La Liga and didn't think they could win. On the contrary. However, you never saw that confident edge. 4-1 scorelines hid the fact that the game was 1-1 though 70 minutes. A confident team with that firepower should be up 4-1 at halftime.

Mourinho brings everything Madrid lack. He tore apart my beloved Barcelona in the Champions League with ease (and quite frankly, beating Barcelona or any other European powerhouse is what Madrid lack at the moment). He has won at every team he's managed and is looking to be the first manager in history to win the Champions League with 3 different clubs. His ego is his strength. And Madrid will love him for it.

Mourinho is not a worthy adversary not for his past success or because he's earned my respect. Rather, he has manifested in me a level of fear I have never experienced with any other team I support in any sport. A fear that the only man who can bring my club's sworn and most hated enemy to glory is now in place. A fear that the only man who has proven he can dismantle my team on the pitch now manages that Madridista scum. And for that, there can be no more worthy an adversary than Jose Mourinho.

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