It is a new La Liga season but prepare for the same old José Mourinho.
As Real Madrid tries to recover from last Thursday’s 3-2 first leg Spanish Supercopa deficit, the highly successful but equally controversial Portuguese coach returned to one of his old classics by accusing rival Barcelona of influencing the outcome of its matches off the field of play.
Incidentally, Mourinho’s most provocative soundbyte was the only statement he made in English during this afternoon’s press conference at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. His mischievous assertion was not verbal but a rubbing motion between right thumb and forefinger.
In April 2011, Mourinho wondered aloud whether the United Nations Children’s Fund—Barcelona’s shirt sponsors—was somehow involved in supposedly favourable refereeing decisions enjoyed by the famous Catalan club after Barcelona knocked Madrid out of the European Champions League.
Madrid is the defending La Liga champion now but Mourinho has not changed his opinion—which is totally unsupported by fact—that Barcelona enjoys an unseen advantage beyond the magical left boot of Argentine sensation Lionel Messi.
“Between those two clubs, no result in the first leg is a result that you cannot change,” said Mouinho. “We lost last season at home in the (Copa Del Rey), we lost here (and) we went to Barcelona and we didn’t win for something.”
Mourinho rubbed his right thumb and forefinger before continuing.
“We draw 2-2 in the Super Cup we went to Barcelona,” he continued, “and again for something.”
He twiddled his fingers again. (Listen the audio here)
It was the final question permitted and Mourinho, slender and athletic, left the press conference with head held high and a spring in his step.
Did the Madrid reporters understand his English statement and the context of his sly fingers? Or do the capital’s press now choose to intentionally censor the coach’s comments?
Wired868, a benefactor of DirecTV’s Madrid Media Tour 2012, asked several witnesses about the implication of his gesture in Spanish culture and all conceded that the signal was the same in any language. It was the inference of money.
Whether Mourinho could plausibly pass the extravagantly assembled Real Madrid team off as Barcelona’s poor cousin is another matter entirely.
Madrid has not won a single match thus far this season and the possibility of extending that run to a fourth fixture is disconcerting to “Madridistas.”
But Mourinho, arguably the game’s most pragmatic coach, claimed to be unconcerned.
He conceded that Madrid performed poorly in Sunday night’s 2-1 loss to Getafe. The decisive Supercopa second leg, according to the coach, is useful in terms of revealing whether his team’s mental attitude on the weekend was an aberration or a new pattern.
The result does not matter to Mourinho. That, of course, would be a first.
It is clearly no straightforward feat to extricate what Mourinho believes from what he actually says. There is more than a touch of the dramatic in the 49-year-old coach who once declared himself to be “the Special One” and recently updated his status to “the Only One.”
At the press conference, Mourinho sat with arms clasped and a wry half-smile fixed on his face.
The shrug of the shoulder, curl of the lip or chuckle into his chest all seemed to be rehearsed admonishes or encouraging signals to the large media gathering.
Or perhaps the suggestion of cunning in Mourinho’s body-language is to be drawn into his world where everything is more than the sum of its parts and even Messi’s amazing solo effort—that decided their Champions League contest in April 2011—was somehow a dirty, clandestine act that involved a global children’s organization.
Mourinho’s closing words to the press seemed sensible.
“Between those two clubs, no result in the first leg is a result that you cannot change,” he said. “… So between two big clubs (and) lots of good players… anything can happen, so everything is open.”
But his gesticulations suggested something far from wholesome.
Tomorrow, when Madrid kicks off against Barcelona, there is likely to be more drama.
Editor’s Note: Wired868 is in Spain as part of DirecTV’s Madrid Media Tour 2012