That was basically the extent of Jose Mourinho’s farewell to Real Madrid during yesterday’s 4-2 victory over Osasuna.
Before the match he issued a brief departing statement, saluting the fans and noting his respect of others after three fiery years in charge of Los Blancos:
“I wish all of Real Madrid’s supporters much happiness in the future,” Mourinho said. “I want to thank many fans for their support, and I respect the criticism of others. I repeat, happiness to all, and above all, good health. Hala [Forward] Madrid!”
Prior to kick-off Mourinho was equally curt. He waited until the last possible moment before showing his melancholy, sad puppy-dog mug, popping out of the tunnel to a band of photographers so thick the referee was forced to scatter them away. Mourinho simply shrugged, ducking into the shadows of the bench where he remained until the final whistle.
After the match it was more of the same – a quick venture into the technical area, arms raised, before quickly turning on his heel and heading for the exit. No teary-eyed final interview. No post match conference opining on his success, misdeeds, regrets or legacy. More of a ‘catch me if you can‘ or ‘you’ll be sorry when I’m gone‘ kind of feel.
It was so very, very Jose.
But the Spanish media will be sorry he’s gone.
From the moment Mourinho arrived at the Bernabeu los periodistas of Madrid launched into a smear campaign of the highest order. No figure in Madrid history – not (Brazilian) Ronaldo, David Beckham, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane or Cristiano Ronaldo – had ever been subjected to such hate. It was a campaign of lies, insults and rampant rumors designed to inject drama, unseat Mourinho and, most of all, sell newspapers.
And Mourinho, so full of pride, couldn’t resist taking the bait and running with it until eventually growing tired and deciding that, enough was enough, he simply wanted to move on to where he “is loved”. Ahhh, England.
Opinion over Mourinho has always been sharply divided – black or white, love or hate – and it was on full display at yesterday’s match.
Love poured down from Madrid’s ultras, who chanted The Special One’s name and flew signs reading, “Thanks for everything, Mou”. They loved him for his hate of Barcelona, for his infamous eye gouge of Tito Vilanova during El Clásico and for winning the La Liga title in 2011-12.
Other supporters hissed hate at the 50 year old, furious over the lack of major titles and Mourinho’s treatment of particular players. He had won the league, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Supercup, but Jose’s failure to win the Champions League was an inexcusable blight on a storied club with infinite resources. Add to this the benching of club captain Iker Casillas, and it’s surprising no one went for the Portugese manager’s head.
But as far as the eye could see, neither the love nor the hate, was truly important to Mourinho on his final day in charge of Real Madrid. All that mattered was the exit.
Next stop: Stamford Bridge.