Wherever Jose Mourinho goes, controversy is never far behind. The man is pure box office. You would have thought that after a glorious 0-4 victory in the Amsterdam Arena against one of Europes sleeping giants that Jose would be allowed to bask in glory for a day or two before the Clasico preparations kick in. Well you'd be wrong. Instead the special one finds himself in the middle of a debate about whether or not it is fair for a team to force yellow cards. During tonights encounter, Mourinho sent reserve keeper Jerzy Dudek scuttling along to Iker Casillas to pass on a message. Casillas then whispered sweet nothings into the ears of Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso. In the last five minutes of the match both players recieved second yellow cards for time wasting. Yes, time wasting when 0-4 up. No prizes for guessing what went down. Both players forced the ref to send them off. Fair play or foul play?
For there really can be no doubt about both players intentions. At that stage of the match and with that scoreline, both players were acting under instruction. An instruction to force yellow cards, thus ruling themselves out of the final (meaningless) group match against Auxerre, ready to start the knockout stages with a clean disciplinary record. I guess the one big question in all of this is the following. Was what Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso did against the rules? The answer is a big fat no. At least not yet. Even if they did bring in a rule to prohibit inducing yellow cards on purpose, how on earth could the referees possibly be expected to enforce the rule? Impossible.
What Jose Mourinho did was well and truly within the rules of the game, even if a tadge unsporting. People will get all hot under the collar, claiming it undermines the whole competition. Yet who wouldn't want their team to do the same if it meant guaranteeing the presence of two of their most important players in the all-important knock-out stages? Personally, I think it is just another example of the extraordinary attention to detail that Mourinho pays to his match preparation. That difference between very good and great managers. Jose Mourinho doesn't miss a beat. It won't win him or Real Madrid any friends, but this isn't about winning friends. It's about winning a record breaking tenth Champions League crown.