x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Real trouble in Madrid

Fans have turned on Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho after he dropped team captain Iker Casillas as the squad is 16 points behind league leading Barcelona.

Real Madrid's Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho looks on before their Primera Liga match with Malaga at La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga.
Real Madrid's Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho looks on before their Primera Liga match with Malaga at La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga.

The love affair is over.

More than 80 per cent of Real Madrid fans no longer want Jose Mourinho in charge of their club.

Various newspapers and websites from the Madrid media have sampled opinion, and it does not look good for the Portuguese.

The mood is so bleak because football is a results-driven business and Madrid's results have not been good.

Their 3-2 defeat to Malaga at the weekend was their fourth away from home in the Primera Liga this season and they are now 16 points behind Barcelona.

The league is over, but Madrid fans are doubly angry because Iker Casillas, their goalkeeper, the captain of club and country, was dropped.

That had not happened for a significant match for over a decade, since Casillas, then 21, did not start in the 2002 Champions League final.

Mourinho claims that his conscience is clear when it comes to Casillas, a fan hero and club legend who represents what they see as the embodiment of modern Madrid. He has made tough decisions before and stuck by them. But was it a technical decision as he claimed?

Or is Mourinho distrustful of his captain and the most powerful man in his dressing room? Is that why Mourinho questioned Casillas's captaincy when he first arrived in 2010?

Mourinho has fought political battles at the Bernabeu since he arrived. He has won them all, because he could always threaten to walk away from a job he was doing well. But his own players can do exactly the same.

If they leave Madrid they will have other options. That is if they choose not to sit on their huge contracts and sulk. The players will take criticism - to a point.

They will accept Mourinho's foibles when they are winning, but question him when they do not.

Madrid's goalkeeping situation is strange.

If Mourinho was so unhappy with Casillas's performances - which have been as excellent as ever - then why has he not bought a capable backup goalkeeper for two years? Antonio Adan, the man picked to play in Malaga, is inexperienced and it showed.

Online discontent from fickle followers is one thing, discontent from hard-core, match-going fans in the stadium another.

Mourinho was booed at the recent cup game against Alcoyano. It will continue unless the team start winning again.

Or until he lifts a 10th European Cup at Wembley in May.



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