After Inter Beats Bayern to Win Champions League, Mourinho Bolts for Madrid and Glory

↵

↵About 32 months ago, José Mourinho was on the outs at Chelsea, with disagreements with management scuttling a nascent dynasty in English soccer. Chelsea hadn't lost at home in domestic league play under Mourinho, had won the Premier League twice and had been to the Champions League semifinals three times. Still, Mourinho's rocky relationship with Chelsea's Russian oligarch owner, Roman Abramovich, meant that he had to go. ↵

↵

↵Abramovich must be kicking himself today. ↵

↵

↵Mourinho's Inter Milan squad overwhelmed Bayern Munich to win the Champions League final yesterday. Two goals from Diego Milito were the only scores in the 2-0 final, as Inter's defense mixed load-the-box patience with aggressiveness in clearance to flummox the German champions. Mourinho is now responsible for the only treble (three titles in one year) the Nerazzurri have ever won, and the first Champions League crown since 1965. And his Inter team, despite a relative paucity of star power compared to most elite European clubs, has proved itself more than worthy this year, knocking off the English (Chelsea), Spanish (Barcelona) and German (Bayern) champions en route to this triumph. ↵

↵

↵It's almost enough to make you believe everything Jose Mourinho says about himself. And it's why his move to Real Madrid seems like a play to become the best coach in the history of soccer — and it might work. ↵

↵Mourinho has won Champions League titles with far less than Real Madrid can offer; his win with FC Porto in 2004 remains one of the Champions League's better Cinderella runs, and this year's Inter team was not expected to lift the trophy. At Real, Mourinho will enjoy an enormous transfer budget, a boatload of talent (Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso), and a board, likely to be commanded by Mourinho's Inter cohort Luis Figo, that will cater to his desires and stay out of his way. ↵

↵That might mean the end of Los Galácticos. Mourinho's style requires teamwork and grit, and that may require a roster makeover. "Real Madrid seems like a club that wants to win big titles," Mourinho said. "But winning big titles isn't just about the jersey you wear and it's not just about money — it's about personality and working together." ↵

↵

↵It's anyone's guess whom that comment might be aimed at, but the powers that be in Madrid would be fools not to give Mourinho full use of the reins, given the club's decade of underperforming. Madrid, voted the most successful club of the 20th century by FIFA, haven't won a Champions League title since 2002, haven't been to a Champions League semifinal since 2003, and have generally fallen behind Barcelona as the preeminent Spanish team, losing the last four editions of El Clásico and watching Barca claim two Champions League titles in the last five years. ↵

↵

↵Mourinho is tasked with reversing a decade of momentum and changing a way of thought at Real, but if he does, the reward in prestige will be immense. There is no more rarefied air in the world of club soccer than that reserved for champions at Real Madrid, and Mourinho certainly must be dreaming of capturing titles and cups and sealing his place as one of the greatest coaches in the annals of soccer. ↵

↵

↵And this must be his last stop, too. International soccer, Mourinho alleges, has teams that are less well-fashioned and therefore less impressive, and the Champions League is bigger than the World Cup in his mind. Further, if club soccer is his arena, he can do no better than to bear the proudest colors in its history and raise them again. It's inconceivable to think he would step down from Real Madrid to another club, and unlikely that he would want to try international soccer. ↵

↵

↵Because victory is defined by Mourinho and his critics as nothing less than Champions League titles and splendid success, his Real Madrid tenure carries tremendous risk and reward. Accumulate important victories, and a burnished legacy will follow; fail to win nearly every time out, and Mourinho's resume will be tarnished. There is no middle ground. ↵

↵

↵But with Mourinho's track record, there likely isn't a worry about it. "Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one," Mourinho said after moving to Chelsea in 2004, and that sobriquet has stuck with him as proof of his arrogance. ↵

↵

↵If The Special One does at Real what he did at Porto, at Chelsea, and at Inter, it may become self-evident truth. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.