Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Is Jose Mourinho made for Madrid?

Is Jose Mourinho made for Madrid?

By Rick Olivares

An unprecedented era of glory in Madrid? Or another one, an expensive special one who will bite the dust after one season?

Since 1999, Real Madrid CF has had 10 managers. That’s 10 in a decade or roughly one every year. Yet during the 2004-05 season, they went through three managers – Jose Antonio Camacho, Mariano Garcia Remon, and Vanderlei Luxemburgo.

Among the 10, three won La Liga titles – Vicente del Bosque, Fabio Capello, and Bernd Schuster – with the former being the most successful in his four-year stay. Capello and Schuster were replaced a year after they won and was not given a chance to defend their title. And ironically, Capello has twice coached the club for a year and each time, he won the domestic championship and each time he was let go because his side played Italian-style defensive football; far from the attacking flair that is desired in the Santiago de Bernabeu Stadium.

Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini was just let go after one year with Los Merengues. His side, filled with expensive superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema, and Xabi Alonso did not win the La Liga. Their loss to eventual titlists FC Barcelona the other month being the difference in the title race that came down to the final game of the season on points.

Incidentally, Pellegrini won 75% of his team’s matches, the best ever in Real Madrid history.

But a second place finish with its highest points total ever (Barcelona, back-to-back winners also had its highest points total this season), a roundof-16 exit in the Champions League and a dismal upset in the Copa del Ray led to the manager’s dismissal. And the greedy fat cats led by club President Florentino Perez who spent enough money to pay for several countries’ debts with their Galactico II project deemed the season a failure.

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.

How can a team win when every year there is a change in the system and style of play? The players can always sabotage the manager if they do not like him knowing that the club officials hold him on a short leash?

And now perhaps this club’s biggest signing-to-be isn’t some football sensation but a special one – the arrogant Jose Mourinho who comes with an ego the size of the Eiffel Tower. Mourinho, fresh from a Treble with Inter Milan, will come in with unprecedented powers where even if he doesn’t win the Liga cannot be let go. Mourinho who demands the spotlight and center stage. Mourinho who makes Liverpool’s Rafael Benitez sound like an annoying minnow. Why not? He has talked the talk and walked the walk.

While at the San Siro where he turned AC Milan into second-rate co-tenants, he would openly flirt with the majesty of Madrid; of returning the club to its former glory. His quotes all but condemned Pellegrini into a top-or-duplicate-Barcelona’s-treble-feat situation. But then again, maybe not.

After all, Capello and Shuster piped the Catalans yet were dismissed after a year.

How Mourinho challenges Perez will be of great interest seeing as to how he did the same with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. But he is no longer special in Stamford Bridge since the Blues won the Premiership and FA Cup this season under Carlo Ancelotti. But make no mistake, Mourinho’s legend grows. He’s won with Porto, Chelsea, and Inter Milan. He is the latest version of Fabio Capello who has won with every club he’s been.

Capello can only dwarf him if he leads England to the World Cup Finals in Johannesburg this July. He will be knighted and take Wayne Rooney’s place in the recent Nike advert “Write the Future” where the Manchester United forward is given a glimpse of glory or slow death pending the outcome of the World Cup.

But Real Madrid… is it worth it? They have high hopes now after they shamelessly cast aside Pellegrini. After all, they have just made a play for the biggest Galactico of them all.


This appears in the May 28, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror.

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