Is Jose Mourinho putting out feelers for a return to England at the end of the season?
According to a report in The Sunday Times (subscription required), an unnamed source close to Mourinho intimated that the Real coach could leave. "He was sick and tired of this situation at Madrid. It doesn't matter if he wins this season or not. It's not about the money. He's decided to come back to England and he will go in the summer."
Mourinho didn't particularly look like he was in a funk on the sidelines as Real eased past Zaragoza today, 3-1. The body language looked good and the players seemed in good spirits. In fact, the remedy to this artificially created situation was discovered at the Camp Nou in the Copa Del Rey second leg, as a Real team outplayed Barca with attacking and creative football creating a whole host of chances and even matching possession. There was wholehearted praise from all quarters including their bitterest rivals even though they went out on aggregate.
The tangle of bitter feelings left in the wake of the first leg defeat was noticeably lifted. Mourinho also made peace with Sergio Ramos following their infamous training session verbal spat went viral. After the right back was sent off against Barca, the Real coach was observed to pat him on the shoulder and whisper into his ear, reportedly these words "You played a great match, you did not deserve your sending off, thank you."
As coach of the most storied club in the world, there is undeniable pressure and with Mourinho the expectations for instantaneous results naturally skyrocketed. In reality, his stay has been quite conflict free. He has been accommodated enough by Florentino Perez, who got rid of Jorge Valdano, after the Real legend voiced his displeasure at Mourinho's negative tactics. This week Perez also played the role of conciliator after his coach conveyed his anger at the training session leak. He's promised a thorough investigation and instituted a gag order.
There is another reading. Mourinho, of course is a master of messaging. One wouldn't put it past him to use a foreign outlet to threaten his resignation as a way of getting the Spanish media, one of the most predatory in the world, to back off. The good vibes generated by the Barca second leg was continued today as Real went 7 points clear of their nemesis.