I thought I’d put a little summary of the most interesting stories surrounding Barça and Madrid in the past week.
Let’s take a look at the capital first. Madrid did turn in a very clinical 7-0 thrashing of Malaga Thursday night in response to our 1-0 win at the Mestalla. However, that Madrid win has been getting almost no media attention, rather, Jose Mourinho is back to his antics and is center stage. If any of you have been keeping up with the Madrid media, you would know that things are already not very cosy at Real Madrid (shocking right?). Mourinho’s relationship with Valdano is frosty to say the least, and I think El Presidente Perez is not enjoying having to take sides. However, with this latest smug comment, Mourinho has further strained his relationship with the Real Madrid management. Those in Spain report there is a feeling that even pro-Madrid paper Marca is finding it difficult to back the Jose sideshow.
So the event came about at the Malaga pre-match press conference. First, he took a really unneeded shot at former Madrid boss Manuel Pellegrini. Look, Pellegrini was treated horrendously at Madrid, and if you cannot see that you don’t understand that club. He was never in charge from the day he got there, evidenced most chiefly by his ignorance in the signings of both Kaka and Benzema and the fact he wanted Sneijder and Robben to stay. Then, the man took them to a record 96 point tally. Yes it was 3 behind our 99, but still, saying he failed is ridiculous. Anyway, a journalist asked Mourinho something along the lines of “if you don’t win anything this season, and get fired, can you see yourself taking a job like Pellegrini has?”. Jose replied to that basically, “I would never have to manage a club like Malaga, if I do leave Madrid I will go to a big team somewhere in England or Italy”. Now, those comments have greatly upset many and the mayor of Malaga Francisco de la Torre has chimed in by essentially calling Mouinho rude, disrespectful, and tarnishing the image of the club he represents.
There was a second talking point in the very same press conference. A reporter asked Mourinho about all the complaining he has been doing lately, where he is basically saying Barça are favoured in the schedule, rest days, refereeing, etc. (Which is obviously complete rubbish). Anyway, Mourinho then replied that “they are not complaints, they are truths”. The journalist then came with a rebuttal, to which Jose called him a “hypocrite”. He has come out and somewhat apologised for that recently, but not without again alluding to the fact Barça get preferential treatment with the schedule.
Our own Tito Vilanova was not impressed with this latest set of antics, and unlike Pep, who never responds to it, really went at Jose. This is in an extract from what he said to La Vanguardia: “Stress is not good for anyone. We cannot have a coach saying each week whatever he wants and when someone replies gets all agitated. When everything is said and done, Mourinho is a football coachwho never talks about football and we do not like that. It’s no good when the coach is bigger than the players. I can only imagine that a coach acts like this because he has not experienced the feelings of being a player. He wanted to be a player, but wasn’t able to.”
Mourinho’s a special one. I just cannot quite figure him out. Some say he plays this bad guy role on purpose in order to take attention off his team when things are not going great. So instead of having the media go on about the 0-0 draw in Depo before the Malaga match, he said these inflammatory things to distract the press and take pressure of his players. Many truly believe in this theory. Some medias love it, see England, some hate it, see Italy. I think the Spanish are starting to get a bit tired of it too. Others will say Jose is just arrogant and at times that manifests into blatant rudeness and distasteful acts. But, at the same time, if he is just being honest about his feelings and beliefs, that in itself is a bit refreshing. I’ve seen documentaries about this guy and his players love him, and that is no understatement. You could see if with Sniejder’s kinds words to him at the FIFA/Balon d’Or ceremony in January (to which Mou got a bit teared up), but the image that I cannot forget is seeing Marco Matterazzi, a grown ass 36 year old man, a tough guy, bawling his eyes out like a little child when Mourinho left Inter for the final time after the Champions League finals. Seeing his player so distraught as his car was leaving, he made the driver stop, Jose got out and in complete tears himself went to console all 6 foot 4 of the tattooed Italian. Personally, I’ve had a strong dislike, even hatred for Jose over the years, but that scene in itself showed that he isn’t a heartless and inconsiderate person.
I do however think his relationship with Real Madrid is tense and if he doesn’t win a trophy, I feel rather confident he will not continue past this season. Anyway, all that discussion is for another day.
The big talking point in Barcelona this week is without question the hospitalizing of our beloved leader Pep Guardiola. The official club website posted around midday yesterday that Pep was admitted to hospital for treatment on his severe back pain. He was diagnosed with a herniated disc and is being treated accordingly. The latest reports are he is being treated with epidural injections to manage the pain, but if it persists, he is going to have to have surgery. Sport reports that Pep is hoping to postpone that until late March, as there is an international break. Now, personally, I think he should do the surgery sooner than later. As much as I admire, respect, and understand the fact he wants to be at the helm in this tough period, health is the most important thing any person has. My father actually did this surgery a few months ago, and I can attest that the recovery time is very quick, patients are standing up and walking within 24 hours. However, it takes up to 2 weeks to recover properly. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and I hope Pep does what is best for him. Vilanova obviously doesn’t have the charisma and presence of Pep, but Guardiola fulls trusts him, which means a lot. We also have big characters in the dressing room like Xavi, Valdes, Pique, and most of all Puyol, who I believe could assert the necessary discipline and philosophy during this tough fixture list.
Two other smaller bits of news. Alves has again been in the media with talks surrounding his contract. He said he could not “imagine Alves without Barça ” and that if it was up to him the contract would be 100% finish, but that the deal depended not only on him but the club. So that sounds rather optimistic but one never knows. I really do hope he signs. The other bit of interesting news has been a story that weekend matches for Barça , Real, and Valencia could be moved to Friday night to allow the teams more rest for the midweek Champions League games. As long as the game is televised, I’m happy with that.