I bet many of you were wondering why it has taken Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho so long to make headlines for something other than getting results. Spanish and Catalan media watched with bated breath during the Spanish Supercup for any sort of sequel to the eye-poking action that typified the Real Madrid-FC Barcelona rivalry of last season. Yet, somehow, the lead-up to the first leg was met with atypical composure and respect from the Portuguese coach.
And for only the third time at the helm of Los Blancos, Mourinho came away with a trophy at the expense of Barcelona. I bet you were also wondering if he had turned over a new leaf, allowing his ranting and off-stage presence to take a back seat to professionalism and churning out results.
For churn out results he did, albeit horrid ones. Madrid currently sit 12th in La Liga with one win and two losses in four matches. So one could justify the relief of pressure Mourinho must have felt when his squad came out on top of a grueling 22 final minutes against Manchester City CF that saw five goals including Cristiano Ronaldo’s 90th-minute thriller.
As if performing a choreographed celebration with his countryman, Mourinho sprinted forth from his bench in total rapture and performed a knee slide we could really only ever imagine one coach in the world performing, save perhaps Diego Maradona.
The elation was obvious in the post-match press conference, where Mourinho, who looked as if he had just witnessed 20 hours of his wife going through labor, cut a humbled figure.
“And for me as coach, more important than to win is to be proud of my team, no matter the result,” he said following the match. But his remarks were far from modest. “I know everything that was prepared, I know everything was written before it happened. All of your computers were going ‘delete, delete, delete.’ But the DNA of my team is right.”
This coming from the same man who only four days before blasted his players and staff for not giving him the players he needed to get positive results in La Liga.
“I changed only two players at half-time, I wanted to change seven of them,” Mourinho said over the weekend. “What worries me more than the eight-point difference between us and Barça is that I don’t have a team at the moment.”
What Mourinho is saying is he is currently unsatisfied with one of the most expensive teams the world has ever seen—interestingly complicated by the fact he built said team almost single handedly. Sound crazy? You’re not the only one who thinks so.
Former FC Barcelona vice president under Joan Laporta, Alfons Godall, took to Twitter following the celebration to criticize the Madridista coach.
“It’s lamentable that this psychopath celebrates goals as if he were a player. Maybe it is to compensate for the frustration of having been incompetent as a player,” Godall tweeted.
Godall was immediately slammed for his tweet, which drew response from the likes of Lassana Diarra.
“With all due respect, what is lamentable is your lowbrow attitude of someone who should really behave,” Diarra tweeted.
Dozens of Spanish nationalists also took the chance to slam Godall not just for his use of the term “psychopath,” but also for his Catalan nationalism during a time where pressure to secede from Spain is at an all-time popularity. While tensions may be not as intense as two seasons ago between the two teams, separation anxiety is currently gripping Catalunya and Madrid, who are at odds over tax policies within the country. And any attack on one camp from the other is being met with seething hatred in the twitter-sphere.
Nevertheless, Real Madrid wasted no time in defending Mourinho and released a statement the following day denouncing Godall’s criticism and threatening to sue under grounds of defamation.
The club also quickly came to the aid of the Portuguese earlier in the week following a remark by Marca Editor-In-Chief Roberto Palomar, who published an opinion piece slamming Mourinho’s character.
“Palomar … referred to our client as ‘the type to flee after knocking someone over’,” said an excerpt from a letter from Mourinho’s legal team published in Thursday’s Marca. Perhaps what Palomar meant to say was, “the type to saunter away after poking someone in the eye.”
Marca claims Mourinho’s lawyers want the situation rectified through an apology and €15,000 in damages to be paid to the local football team his son plays for.
As far as the club’s response to Godall, “Real Madrid is not going to allow attacks of this kind and will always take action against those who question the honor of people who form a part of this club.”
Real Madrid’s official statement claims that a civil suit is in the works and that Godall’s comments would not go unpunished. Godall responded that all he wanted was for the club to denounce Mourinho’s actions surrounding the eye-poke fiasco.
But the lesson in all this should not be about freedom of speech or how to get under your rivals’ skins in an ethical manner. It should be about a greater truth that has been evident for quite some time in European football–if you attack Jose Mourinho’s character or mental instability, you had better have proof.