This a regular topic of conversation amongst football fans – one that is often blurred by the burning hatred that many people feel for Jose Mourinho. You see, it’s easy to look at Carlo Ancelotti’s 2013-2014 season with Real Madrid and think “Wow. He did a much better job than that Portuguese twat!” That kind of reasoning requires no thought and it certainly isn’t the mindset of somebody who truly understands the game.
Let me explain.
Real Madrid before Mourinho.
Anyone who has been watching football for longer than five years will tell you that Real Madrid were a bit of a joke of a club throughout the 2000s. They were a team full of overpaid superstar galacticos that were under-performing in Europe. Let’s take a look at their Champions League results before and after Mourinho arrived:
- 03/04: Knocked out in the Quarter Finals by Monaco.
- 04/05: Knocked out in the last 16 by Italian side Juventus.
- 05/06: Knocked out in the last 16 by Arsenal.
- 06/07: Knocked out in the last 16 by Bayern Munich.
- 07/08: Knocked out in the last 16 by Roma.
- 08/09: Heavily defeated by Liverpool in the last 16 (4-0).
- 09/10: Kicked out in the last 16 by French side Lyon.
- 10/11: Reached the semi-finals. Defeated by Barcelona. Mourinho’s first season.
- 11/12: Reached the semi-finals. Defeated by Bayern Munich on penalties.
- 12/13: Reached the semi-finals. Defeated by Dortmund.
Before Mourinho turned up, Real Madrid were not feared. I remember looking at them with a sense of amusement. A team full of big names that never really did anything of note. It wasn’t until Mourinho showed up that they regained a shape and a winning mentality.
Barcelona went through their most dominant period while Mourinho was at Madrid. Do you remember how well-oiled that Barcelona side was during the 10/11 and 11/12 seasons? They had Pep Guardiola at the helm and both Iniesta and Xavi were at their peak. They were mesmerizing to watch as they destroyed teams with their possession-style football and their incessant pressing. When Ancelotti took over Read Madrid, Barcelona were a much-changed side. They were in the middle of a transition period and the media were constantly pointing out the fact that they weren’t the same side that they had been under Guardiola. Remember: This was the season that Barcelona were decimated 7-0 in the Champions League.
While Guardiola was managing Barcelona, Mourinho managed to break a number of club records:
- Most league wins in a season (32 wins out of 38 games).
- Most league goals scored in a season (121).
- Most goals scored in a season in all competitions (174).
- Most points in a season (100 points from 38 games).
“But… but… Ancelotti won the Champions League!”
Winning the Champions League isn’t a simple feat. Because of the nature of knock-out football and the away goals rule, there is also an element of luck. One bad decision by the ref and you’re on your way out. If one of your players messes up, you might not be able to recover in time. Penalty shoot-out? It could go either way, as players lose their head and the situation gets to them. All of these are factors in cups such as the Champions League.
Personally, I think that people are a little too short-sighted with their criticisms of Mourinho’s time at Real Madrid. The real question that people need to ask is: Would Ancellotti have done a better job had he taken up the role in 2010?