El Centrocampista

Dead Man Walking? – Mourinho, Perez and broken relationships

Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images Europe

Another ‘derbi’, another defeat for Atlético de Madrid. One suspects that of the casual spectators who paid a minimum of 65 euros to be there, only the most ardent of fans will have left the stadium believing it was money well spent, after what was in truth a hugely anticlimactic encounter.

Faced with little to discuss in the aftermath of the tedium, Madrid’s sports dailies have returned to obsessing about the future of Jose Mourinho, but not before waxing lyrical about what was in truth an outstanding performance by Cristiano Ronaldo. ‘Rojiblanco’ supporters must be heartily sick of the sight of the world’s most famous number 7; of the last ten goals scored by Madrid in derby clashes, he has scored six of them and provided assists for three of the remaining four.

Everything went right for Mourinho on the night, apart from a run-in with Atlético coach German Burgos in which it is alleged the former Argentina ‘keeper told him, ‘I am not Tito, I will rip your head off’ when the two clashed midway through the first half. However ‘Marca’ is convinced that the Special One’s time in the Spanish capital will end no later than next summer, claiming that the relationship between him and Florentino Perez is ‘broken’. According to journalist Miguel Serrano, the final straw was Mou’s decision to come out on his own 40 minutes before kick off on Saturday night to allow those unhappy with him to show their displeasure.

Meanwhile back at the football, Madrid face Ajax in the Bernabeu tonight with qualification assured, but with no chance of topping the group. With this in mind, Mourinho has elected to rest Iker Casillas, and with Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos just one booking away from suspension, they have also been given the night off. There will be a rare start in goal for Adán, whilst young full back Nacho will also get an opportunity to shine on the big stage. With Marcelo, Albiol and Higuain still injured and Alvaro Arbeloa suspended, there are also places in the squad for a number of up and coming stars, including strikers Jese Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata, Castilla ‘keeper Jesus Fernandez and midfielder Denis Cheryshev.

One midfielder who will definitely start tonight is Luka Modric, who has still yet to convince the masses that he is worth his huge transfer fee. The Croatian has generally kept himself to himself in his first few months in the Spanish capital, but emerged this week to declare to the press that he finally feels comfortable in his new surroundings, and is at his happiest when occupying a berth alongside Alonso and Sami Khedira. Certainly the German international would rate as one of Mourinho’s better signings, and the 13 million euros which he splashed out two weeks later for Mesut Ozil has also been money well spent.

In truth by Madrid standards, only the 25 million euros lavished on Fabio Coentrao could be construed as an expensive gamble before the arrival of Modric in the summer, and let us not forget that it was Florentino Perez who chose to invest over 50 million pounds on Kaká. However regardless of Mourinho’s generally good record in the transfer market, and his success in loosening Barcelona’s vice-like grip on La Liga, he has simply ruffled too many feathers in his three years in charge, and for all his characteristic bravado on his future in the press conference yesterday, it is obvious to all that his days are numbered.

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