Should Real Madrid Take a Gamble on Jose Mourinho?

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By Joseph Connolly

It’s often said in life that you should never go back. You should never return to a relationship after it’s ended, no matter how tempting it might be. It’s not advised to return to living in your parents’ home after you’ve moved out, because you’ll have become too accustomed to having your freedom. You also shouldn’t return to a job after you’ve left it, because it’s likely that the reasons you left it in the first place still apply.

One person who didn’t take that advice was Zinedine Zidane, who is currently enduring a miserable time in charge of Real Madrid. Although he’s a club legend, there’s a general feeling in Spain that Zidane did well to escape from the club with his reputation intact the first time around. The team had somewhat fortuitously won three consecutive Champions League trophies, but were stagnant in the league and seemingly drifting further away from Barcelona with each passing season.

Madrid, in their current shape, is a difficult team to manage for anybody. The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus last year has exposed how much the club relied on the Portuguese icon. Although replacing such a player would be impossible for anybody, Madrid hasn’t even begun to address the problem. Eden Hazard is taking a lot of time adapting to his new surroundings. In the meantime, Zidane has made the mystifying decision to antagonize the club’s next-best player, Gareth Bale. Bale wants to leave Madrid, and the side’s form is increasingly poor. Zidane has sworn he will fight until his last day, but even club legends don’t tend to get much patience from the Madrid hierarchy. Unless things turn around dramatically, and very soon, Zidane will likely be packing his bags by Christmas.

If the Frenchman is to leave the club, who will come in to replace him? Could it really, as so many pundits and bookmakers are suggesting, be Jose Mourinho? Would they yet again be able to persuade a former manager to return to the post? 

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Not So Special Anymore

To say that Mourinho left Madrid under a cloud would be an understatement. By the time he left the Bernabeu, Mourinho had fallen out with the board, the fans, the Spanish media, and most of his players. He spoke at length about not feeling appreciated by Spanish football, and swore that he would go back to a country and a club that loved him.

He made good on that promise and went back to Chelsea – the team where, more than anywhere else, he’d made his reputation as a world-class manager. His first season back at Stamford Bridge wasn’t a resounding success, but in his second season, he appeared to have rediscovered his magic touch. Chelsea won the Premier League and the League Cup. The Special One was special once more, but only for a fleeting moment. It all went wrong the following year.

eden hazard

Chelsea started the 2015/2016 season well, but Mourinho made headlines for all the wrong reasons for verbally berating a female physio on the sidelines. He publicly fell out with Eden Hazard. He made comments which suggested that he hadn’t been overly enthused with the club’s transfer policy over the summer. It was a familiar tale, and Mourinho was sent packing again just before Christmas.

We all know what happened next. He went to Old Trafford and attempted to restore Manchester United to their former glories. Europa League and EFL Cup trophies weren’t the levels of success United had in mind, and Mourinho made yet another pre-Christmas departure within three years of arriving at a club. The pattern appeared to be set. Mourinho will bring trophies to a club, but he’s a short-term appointment.

Better Options Elsewhere?

It would make more sense for Mourinho to be talked about in connection with the Real Madrid job if there weren’t quality alternatives available elsewhere, but there are. Perhaps the issue that’s preventing Real from considering them – if they’re considering replacing Zidane at all – is that their success has thus far been limited to their native countries.

paul pogba jose mourinho

The first is Max Allegri, who most recently managed Juventus, and has previously managed AC Milan. The second is Laurent Blanc, whose managerial career has taken him to Bordeaux, Paris Saint Germain, and the French national team. Both are proven winners, but only in Italy and France respectively. Neither of them has a European trophy to their name – and that’s the kind of thing Madrid would surely want to see on a resume if they are taking applications.

Clearly, firing a manager and replacing them part of the way through a season is a gamble, even if your current manager isn’t performing as you’d like them to. Let’s think of these candidates as if it were a literal gamble. Imagine that Jose Mourinho, Laurent Blanc, and Massimo Allegri were mobile slots. You have one dollar in your pocket, and therefore you can only play one of these all-star mobile slots games on a website like Rose Slots. Which one would you choose? Presumably, like any mobile slots player worth their salt, you’d study the odds, and work out which of them would most likely bring you a return. Would that be one of the untried pair who’ve never managed outside of their own country, or would it be the much-traveled former four-time World Club Coach of the Year?

jose mourinho

As tarnished as his reputation may have been by his Manchester United experience, Jose Mourinho still represents a safe bet for any big club looking for a manager who’ll perform for them in the short term. He’s won league championships in England, Italy, and Spain. He’s won the European Champions League twice. He knows the language, and he knows the culture of the club. The fact that he’s unlikely to last more than three years in the role is unlikely to matter to Madrid – not many get more than three years in that job anyway.

If the powers that be at the Bernabeu decide that Zidane isn’t capable of arresting the slump that his side currently find themselves in, don’t be surprised to see Mourinho flying back to Spain. It might not be the most progressive appointment they could make, but it’s the one which makes the most sense.

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