The Portuguese master tactician appears to have completed all his summer transfer deeds in a swift manner. His success at Inter Milan, now to him, probably just a meeting with the history books has consigned the new Real Madrid Coach to looking as focused as ever. The Whites incumbent Los Angeles pre season base, a place whereby Mourinho has conjured up winning ingredients at his previous clubs in years gone by has recaptured that sparkling glint in the Portuguese’s eye that he can taste a compartment in his new side’s history.
A 3-2 win against Club America, saw debutant Sergio Canales, one of Europe’s hottest properties score, but Mourinho’s new Madrid looked buoyant, energy induced and motivated to new levels. It was evident; the attacking bursts from some of Real Madrid’s more luxurious playing staff were not restricted at first glance, but instead ensued in a controlled offensive tolerance.
With still over three weeks to go before La Liga’s big kick off, where Real Madrid face a tough opening away day test against Mallorca, Mourinho’s clever clockwork subtleties seem to be establishing a fully functioning order into Real Madrid, but there is still a long way to go for Los Blancos, particularly with rivals Barcelona standing in their way.
One immediate obstacle is an injury to Brazilian Kaka. The clubs chief playmaker has had an operation on his left knee, ruling him out of contention for the next three to four months at a crucial time for a 28 year-old looking to launch himself in a new system. To digress with great difficultly, however, the recent departure of Raul Gonzalez is a poignant marker as to how far the depths of Real Madrid’s new quests have stretched and is still a reputable talking point even with other such like stealing the new-fangled show.
Raul’s quarter of a century service for Real Madrid came to an emotional end late last month following a mutual agreement between the legendary number seven and the Santiago Bernabeu echelons.
The modernism of football has seen a greed culture spread throughout the ‘Beautiful Game’ and now the previously religious like values of loyalty, faithfulness and commitment have lost there common ground somewhat in the sport. But not for Raul. For all his time as a Madrista favourite, the now 33 year-old epitomized the level of desire and professionalism needed for the cause, in a sport continuing to denote an air of purgatory at times.
Critics of the forward, who scored a Los Blancos record 323 goals in 740 games in a White jersey, would suggest the Spaniard’s influence was at times too strong at the club he loves. For the most part, that is true. There were undoubtedly a catalogue of occasions where the Real Madrid Captain could not be dropped by any given coach (otherwise a rapid trip through the exit door was there for the taking) because of what the player represented. Perhaps, difficult to fully pin-point, the fans favourite was seen as equal to the 80,000 plus spectators at the Bernabeu. Despite the increase in more exotic flavours of ‘Galacticos’ taking to the pitch, they could not appease the Bernabeu faithful as much as their hero; whose heartbeat embodied in the Madrid badge, never shirked any responsibility as Real Madrid was his life, and still is.
Schalke, Raul’s next port of call offers him a new challenge but when the tears were sliding down his bearded jaw as he waved goodbye to his fans for one last time in his farewell ceremony conducted by Florentino Perez and Jorge Valdano, a former Los Blancos player admired by Raul immensely, with the striker naming one of his children after the influential General Manager, feelings of sadness were running deep. Comparatively to the record books, Raul’s legacy may remain unmatched. Two decades worth of achievement, including six La Liga triumphs and three Champions League winners medals, suggest the enormity of the ex-Atletico Madrid youth player’s credentials.
Albeit, Raul was not blessed with the same unrepeatable brilliance of an Alfredo di Stefano, Eusebio or Zinedine Zidane, his impact bares significant similarity in the discourse of Real Madrid history. Sworn profound in the bowels of the Bernabeu museum lay the artefacts of a fascinating club where Di Stefano’s five consecutive European Cup’s will remain unrivalled eternally, but the way Raul has consistently plugged and grafted away for the past fifteen years in the first team whilst everything around him is immune to constant change portrays the attitude and capability of a player to stand the test of time. Raul has withstood it and he certainly will not be forgotten.