Mourinho was never a Real Madrid fit, unlike Ancelotti
“Happy birthday, darling. What would you like for a present?” “If you can arrange for that nasty man to leave my club, I’d be very happy indeed.” “Leave it with me.”
If that was not a conversation between Spanish television presenter Sara Carbonero and her goalkeeper boyfriend Iker Casillas on his 32nd birthday yesterday, it should have been.
Although there was a lot more to Jose Mourinho’s problems at Real Madrid than his non-relationship with the club’s captain, the Portuguese boss’ final season at the Bernabeu will ultimately go down in history as 'The Great Mourinho v Casillas Power Struggle'.
In reality, that storyline was only the straw that broke the camel’s back because Mourinho was simply never a good fit for Real Madrid.
Mourinho’s teams are relentlessly pragmatic instead of breathtakingly creative. Rather than bewildering the opposition with stylish attacking play, they overpower them and compel them to submit. That is Mourinho’s style and it has been extremely effective.
But it has never been Real Madrid’s style. Similarly, there’s the limelight problem. Historically, at Real Madrid the players are the superstars, with the manager having to accept a low-key role behind the scenes.
From Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano to Emilio Butragueno, Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo, the club’s identity is forged around hero-status players, not motor-mouth managers. And that’s another reason why publicity-loving Mourinho was never going to succeed.
So who would be a better fit? How about a man who spent the past few months managing two of the game’s biggest divas – David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – and happily allowed them to attract the glare of the cameras whilst quietly getting on with his job in the background?
Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid could be a marriage made in footballing heaven.