Now that we are done with the Afcon, (for a while) the whole world will be focusing on the European leagues and Champions League. Before I share with you my thoughts on these exotic leagues, I wish to share with you this information I got from Chamwe Kaira.
Kamma, if the English Premiership was a classroom, then Man City would be that spoilt child who purchases all the expensive books but is never interested in reading them; Liverpool would be that child who’s always proud of the academic achievements of his grandfather while Man United would be the boy who just performs in the final exams and tops the class.
Interestingly, Chamwe is Arsenal and he thinks if Arsenal was in the classroom, it would be the boy who works hard throughout the year but fails to succeed, because of the greedy rich family that is not ready to spend on buying books for him.
Finally, Chelsea would be the boy who fails and puts the blame on his teachers and then his family finds a new teacher for him every year.
These Zambians, they win the Afcon today and the next day they want to lecture the whole world on football. You are right, though, va-elder.
Anyway, my sermon this week is on José Mourinho. The spirit tells me that he might not be at Real Madrid next season. This week Madrid is in Champions League action and the gap on the summit of La Liga may never be shortened. In fact, it is fair to say that Madrid has won La Liga.
However, there is a real possibility that we will see José Mourinho pacing the touchline in the Premier League next season and not the Bernabéu. Two reasons: his own ego and the ego of Madrid. Unless he wins the Champions League by beating Barcelona in the finals.
That Madrid is on top of La Liga is not Mourinho’s doing. It has been because Barcelona chose to do so unwillingly.
Madrid is a royal club; at the heart of Mourinho’s troubles at Real Madrid is his inability to beat Barcelona and his preference for turning every El Clasico into a warfare.
If Barca had won all its games like Real or as has been the case over the past four years, it would have boiled down to El Clasico being the decider and for the first time, Madrid would not enter El Clasico as favourites, because they have failed to beat Barca this season.
During Christmas, a fellow Spanish journo told me that Arsene Wenger might go to Madrid, because Madrid wants that fast-paced style. But that was before Capello became jobless last week. I now suspect Capello will go back to Spain, Mourinho to Chelsea, that Chelsea boss to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger to Spain as well.
Why do you think Arsenal did not buy anyone this past transfer window? Someone with enough balls is coming to change things at Arsenal.
If that does not happen, still, Mourinho will not spend this Christmas in Madrid. He has always embraced an “us-against-them” philosophy with Barcelona being the club’s main enemy. The problem is Real Madrid’s Spanish players and some of the club’s biggest stars, are not buying into the anti-Barca philosophy, because of the Spanish national team where they play alongside the Barcelona stars and conquer the world.
Last season was good. Madrid won the Copa but this season to be kicked out of the Copa, which you are the defending champions by, of all teams, Barca, is worse than being booted out of the Champions’ League by FC Porto.
Madrid has always been Spain’s team but Mourinho has failed to conquer the Catalans and that will be his ticket out.
So take from it what you like. Mourinho will only be regarded a success if he starts beating Barca and that he knows.
Titles between Madrid and Barca come and go; it’s the losses that matter.
Real Madrid is soccer’s most glamorous job. You enter the transfer market like Whitney Houston entered a drug store. Want Christiano Ronaldo? You can pay enough to make even Alex Ferguson kiss the ring. The trouble is the expectation: absolute perfection.
You have to beat Barcelona and not just win multiple trophies but do so with the proper amount of style. You must use the right players; the ones who make the current politician on top of the pile (and not his predecessor) look brilliant. That’s not to mention managing the sport’s most delicate egos.
The task is impossible and it is no wonder Real Madrid has had 22 managerial changes since 1991. Fabio Capello was fired twice, 10 years apart after winning the league. The only manager who has survived longer than two full seasons in that stretch is Vicente Del Bosque who won the Champions’ League twice. Most of those managers did not have to face Barcelona led by Lionel Messi.
Spanish soccer has two clubs right now. The competition exists between them. Even if Mourinho wins the title, it’s a sour solace if they don’t beat Barcelona in the next meeting. Even if his players accomplish that, Mourinho could still soil it all by losing to Barcelona in the Champions’ League finals. Even if he wins the whole lot, he’ll get criticised by some about his tactics. The “special” experiment may end this summer and, quite conceivably, not at Mourinho’s behest.
Under Pep Guardiola, Barcelona has eight wins and three draws against only one loss to Madrid in all competitions, that’s what Mourinho was brought to stop, all else, Spain will be colonised by Catalans.