Mourinhos Real stay marked by semi-final woe
Jose Mourinho chose his words very carefully after seeing his Real Madrid side fall just short of an amazing comeback in the second-leg of their Champions League semi-final with Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.
Two goals in the final eight minutes from Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos brought Madrid to the brink of the final after being hammered 4-1 in Dortmund last week, but after going out for a third consecutive season in the last four, whether Mourinho will hang around for a fourth try with the Spanish champions is highly doubtful.
"I know that in England I am loved," he replied when asked about his future, "especially at one club".
That club of course being Chelsea with whom he won back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006.
"In Spain it is different because some people hate me, many of whom are in this room."
He was referring to large swathes of the Spanish press with whom he has clashed throughout his three-year spell in the capital.
However, Mourinho's real problems throughout his time in Madrid, but particularly this season, have been not so much with the press but a number of his own players.
From very early on in the campaign Mourinho was quick to criticise those in public that he saw as not reaching the standards they set in last season's record-breaking run to the La Liga title.
The likes of Ramos and Mesut Ozil were singled out after eight dropped points to Valencia, Getafe and Sevilla in the opening four league games of the campaign gave Barcelona an early advantage which they have never relinquished.
And he then did the unthinkable in dropping club captain Iker Casillas for the inexperienced Antonio Adan just before the new year.
Eventually, things did turn around just after the turn of the year as Real progressed to the Copa del Rey final and have reduced the gap slightly on Barca, although it still remains at a healthy 11 points.
However, should this be the end of the road for Mourinho, it will most certainly be the most disappointing stop in his managerial career to date for having not been the man to guide Madrid to a 10th European Cup.
In recent weeks he has been keen to stress that for Real three consecutive semi-finals is a great improvement given their previous six-year run of not having made it past the last-16, but even he accepted that Madrid is not a club that measures success in semi-finals.
Mourinho has had greater resources than any Madrid manager has ever had. When he brought on Kaka and Benzema from the bench as a last throw of the dice on Tuesday, he was introducing two players that between them cost nearly double what it took to assemble the entire Dortmund squad.
The Portuguese joked in his post-match press conference that his three runs to the last four had been great for the club in financial terms as they had made a lot of money without having to pay bonuses.
Overall, though, for what they have invested in Mourinho and this squad over the past three seasons, club president Florentino Perez and its demanding fanbase are unlikely to see one league title and potentially two Copa del Reys as value for money.
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