Speaking after the Champions League elimination this week by Borussia Dortmund, Jose Mourinho gave his clearest indication yet that he would be leaving Real Madrid for pastures new in the summer.
And he left few with little doubt that his next job will be back in London, and at Chelsea in particular, where he is still the club’s most successful manager and revered by the fans.
While the talk in the media seems to focus on Mourinho himself (poor chap hates being the centre of attention), little has been said of what his departure would mean for Real Madrid.
Although he divides opinion wherever he goes, Mourinho does bring success. Real president Florentino Perez paid a high price to bring him to the Bernabeu in 2010, and has gone on record on numerous occasions saying the Portuguese is “the best manager in the world”.
In his three years at the club, Mourinho will have won one La Liga title (and a record breaking one to boot), along with two Copas del Rey, should Real beat city rivals Atletico on May 17. It’s not a bad record by any standards, but the notable absence of success in Europe will leave a blot in his copybook.
Mourinho’s success at all of his clubs has been built on his combative nature. But at Madrid, that trait has also had a negative effect. In his three years in the Spanish capital, he has had numerous fallings out with journalists, made complaints about referees bias in La Liga, and even suggested UEFA give favourable treatment to fierce rivals Barcelona.
These types of incidents have damaged the image of the club, something that many marketing experts agree on. Unlike many of his counterparts in La Liga, Mourinho was appointed at Real’s sporting manager as well as the first-team coach, giving him much more responsibility for how the club is run.
Large sections of the Madrid press believe Mourinho’s legacy will be one of negativity as much as it will be success – and the staleness that has surrounded the club this season is something they are looking forward to getting rid of.
A few of the players are also icons to the fans – and Mourinho’s run ins with Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas in particular have not helped his status with some sections of the crowd.
If Mourinho does decide to up and leave, Madrid will undeniably be losing a winner.
But whoever takes over, whether Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas Boas, or any other name mentioned, the media circus will die down, and the club can concentrate on getting back to what matters – winning the Decima.