Real Madrid has learned nothing, and it doesn't deserve José Mourinho

Jasper Juinen

Real Madrid before José Mourinho arrived was a shadow of its current self, but that appears to have been forgotten in the race to bury its manager.

When it became apparent that David Moyes would be the man to replace Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, the rush to justify the decision to choose a man who had won no trophies over the available and now-best manager around focused less on the strengths of the newly-appointed heir - Scottish, possibly Presbyterian, a loud voice - and instead on the weaknesses of the rejected man, José Mourinho.

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Largely, these retrospective objections rested on two arguments. Firstly, Mourinho had no track record of working with younger players. And secondly, he was not renowned for attacking football. Whoever was still clinging to these delusions has obviously not witnessed his time at Real Madrid.

As ever, Mourinho made a personal triumph of his tenure. His reign at Madrid could probably be recognized for those two things rather than the more remarkable achievements for the club of winning trophies and progressing in Europe. Young players at the club such as Mesut Ozil and Karim Benzema were made part of a victorious side, developing as players in the process, while Raphael Varane repaid some immense faith placed in him with interest. This despite the restriction that Mourinho has faced everywhere since Porto - the demand for instant success.

On top of that, Madrid under his tenure played probably the most exciting football on the planet, never relying on the kind of negative tactics that his Internazionale and Chelsea sides once deployed to overcome powerful opposition, instead always going toe-to-toe with the enemy, even when it arguably made little pragmatic sense to do so in the case of Barcelona. By the end, Mourinho had once again proved his critics wrong and showed that he really could be a man for all seasons. That is, until he came up against the internal politics at the club.

Much was made of the fact that Mourinho was binned on the day of Iker Casillas' birthday, yet if that episode was as significant as suggested in the decision of the Madrid hierarchy to wash their hands of their manager, then it shows they have learned nothing in the past ten years - it was precisely the reason they had achieved nothing as a club in the period before Mourinho's arrival.

That fact seems oddly forgotten. If you can remember the period when Madrid were an all-conquering behemoth of a side that ended up being ruined when Mourinho turned up, then your imagination probably qualifies you for a place in the next elections. The truth is they were winning nothing, finishing well behind Barcelona in the league and exiting the Champions League knockout stages early every season. Forget intense battles with Manchester United - this was a club that was getting booed on an annual basis by Olympique Lyonnais.

The reason for that harks back to a mentality that has existed almost since the dawn of time at the club. It was responsible for their initial successes in Europe, before the reverse edge saw it dish out three times as many failures. The individualism and brashness which dictated their transfer policy always found them prone to implosion against disciplined opposition.

In attacking Iker Casillas, Mourinho was committing political suicide, and yet his move proved to be the correct one. Saint Iker was playing like a man who truly had been canonized -- recognized as untouchable, and also dead. Choosing Diego Lopez ahead of him was a phenomenally brave act, and it was repaid by some heroic performances from the keeper, without which they almost certainly would have had an early Champions League exit among other failures. As ever with Real Madrid, however, reality takes a backseat for fantasy, and a world in which Casillas had been proved to be a lesser man wasn't one they were interested in, whether it was true or not.

That adherence to the individual and the fantastical has been a primary reason for Madrid's shortcomings, and scapegoating Mourinho will do little to help them. They defeated one of the greatest club sides of all time in the league and looked a real threat to the European crown with much the same team that had floundered against far weaker opposition. This improvement has been brushed under the carpet in the race to scapegoat their manager rather than their stars - just like the bad old days. Some clubs never learn.

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