El Centrocampista

Real Madrid continue to flounder as Mourinho receives dreaded vote of confidence

Photo: Denis Doyle/Getty Images Europe

Photo: Denis Doyle/Getty Images Europe

It is hard to imagine that there have been many worse weeks in Jose Mourinho’s coaching career than the one which he has just experienced, and the odds of him staying at the helm of the Spanish champions beyond the end of the season grow longer with each passing day.

Marca’s ceasefire did not last long; having praised Mou’s courage last weekend with regard to his frequent defensive tactical switches to secure the three points against Valladolid, Madrid’s biggest selling sports daily went back on the offensive after Wednesday’s Copa Del Rey loss at Celta Vigo. Florentino Perez then gave him the dreaded vote of confidence, insisting that his club was in the hands of ‘the best coach in the world’, and the week finished with an extraordinarily careless sacrifice of two points against Espanyol.

The comparisons with last season’s all conquering heroes make for sobering reading for all ‘merengue’ fans; one more defeat already in all competitions, and eleven points dropped away from the Bernabeu compared with just five that were surrendered last season on the road. Indeed more points have already been dropped overall than in the whole of the 2011-12 campaign.

However it is surely too simplistic to lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of the coach. Extraordinary sums have indeed been invested in the team over the last five years, but few of the obvious weaknesses which were identified over the summer have been properly addressed by new signings.

It is no coincidence that the team have continually been found wanting at set pieces, given the lack of any reinforcements to a defence which already demonstrated this weakness even whilst it was ending Barcelona’s domination of La Liga. They have also been unlucky with injuries, with the full back positions being particularly problematic in this regard, and any club side in the world would struggle to cope with the absence of both Higuain and Benzema, as was the case at the weekend.

The biggest failing of the Special One has been his inability to keep the dressing room united, although with so many big personalities under one roof, many would see this as an almost impossible task. Clearly someone from within is leaking information to the press on a regular basis, and this was in evidence again this week, when reports surfaced of a training ground bust up between Fabio Coentrao and coach Rui Faria, and even in the announcement of the starting eleven for the Celta encounter on various websites before the club had even released it officially.

Mourinho’s reaction to this has been to distance himself ever further from the players, with Faria and Aitor Karanka doing most of the coaching nowadays, and also to criticise them openly when they have underperformed. Given that his strength has always been to create the kind of team spirit and togetherness which allows his sides to overachieve, it is hardly surprising that the same set of players which tasted glory so recently have been unable to live up to expectations.

With Barcelona already long gone over the horizon in La Liga, there now seems likely to be several months of killing time on and off the field before the only big objective left for which to aim, the elusive Champions League title, looms into view again.

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