Can Mourinho and Real work together?
It was all smiles as Jose Mourinho signed up as Real Madrid coach on Monday, a match made in heaven in the eyes of the eager Spanish media.
Mourinho was loved by fans of Inter Milan after his unique treble with the Serie A side (who wouldn’t be?) and he is still the talk of the town amongst fans in England after a hugely successful spell with Chelsea but is he biting off more than he can chew with Real?
In England, because of his quick wit, massive self-confidence and winning record, he is often compared to Brian Clough, one of the most successful and candid managers in England.
Mourinho’s depiction of himself on his arrival at Chelsea that he was “not one from a bottle but a special one” is famed as much as Clough’s “I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business… but I was in the top one.”
Old Big ‘Ead, as Clough was affectionately known, won the English title with unheralded Derby County and took them on to the semi-finals of the European Cup before losing to Juventus.
He went on to achieve his finest feat by winning back-to-back European Cups with Nottingham Forest but he is also remembered for a turbulent 44 days he spent in between times at the then English champions Leeds United.
His time at Leeds was a disaster. He alienated the established players and devoted fans, offended the board and was sacked. People love a touch of arrogance when you are winning but have little time for it when results aren’t going so well.
Could Real for Mourinho turn out like Leeds for Clough?
If the Portuguese coach is given a freer hand on signings than any other coach who has worked for Real president Florentino Perez, that will be half the battle.
But even if Mourinho gets everything he wants, if Jorge Valdano and Perez help him put together the squad of his dreams, there might still be problems in the long term.
For now, Real fans inside and outside the club just want to get back winning things. They want to re-establish ascendancy over Barcelona on the domestic front and get back challenging for the European Cup. If Mourinho can pull that off the fans won’t care how he does it… at first.
But beyond the first season, Mourinho will have to show he can get his team playing the stylish, fast-paced attacking football expected at Real Madrid.
That could be a problem when you consider that Mourinho’s sides have never been attack-minded, more ruthlessly efficient.
When Fabio Capello was in charge of Real during his second spell in Madrid he won the title after a four-year drought but that did not stop the Real board firing him after they and the fans became bored by the defensive style on the pitch.
Mourinho has often talked about his goal to become the first manager to win league titles in England, Italy and Spain.
Do you think he can do it with Real Madrid? And do you think he will still be there when that four-year contract is drawing to a close?
PHOTO: New Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho is photographed as he arrives for his official presentation at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, May 31, 2010. REUTERS/Sergio Perez