Club Focus – Real Madrid – Mourinho prepares for Bilbao in typical style

It is rare to see a week go by in Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho’s world without there being a hint of controversy or tabloid column inches fixated on the Portuguese, and the past couple of days have been no different.

Following a pre-game quarrel with Sporting Gijon counterpart Manuel Preciado before Real Madrid’s late 1-0 victory on Sunday night where Mourinho accused Preciado of fielding a weaker side against Barcelona earlier in the season – Spain’s state commission against violence in sport has recommended both coaches should be punished as a result of the altercation.

A statement concluded the spat “could have contributed to the creation of a hostile climate” but despite the hot water Mourinho has found himself in, Los Blancos Director General Jorge Valdano told an assembly line of journalists: “Mourinho shouldn’t stop being Mourinho. He was hired for his personality and he can express his feelings whenever he wants as long as he doesn’t overstep his mark.” Former Whites midfielder Valdano’s comments exercise Real Madrid’s authority in Spain and pure weight of muscle in one on one verbal battles, but following an unbeaten start to the season the untimely incident is not the welcome distraction his seamless, thus far, Madrid team wanted.

To add insult to injury for ex-Inter boss Mourinho the expected disciplinary action will already accompany the completion of a touchline ban for this weekend at home to Athletic Bilbao following subsequent evidence that Mourinho verbally abused a match official in the club’s home match against Murcia in the Kings Cup, two weeks ago.

Hardly ideal preparation for Madrid’s top of the table ‘El Clasico’ trip to Barcelona in just ten days time. Undeniably, a position away from the managerial touchline could upset the power balance and intimate atmosphere the Portuguese tactician likes to install in his team, but instead Mourinho will sit hand in hand with the clubs supporters. Lifelong Madridista Senor Gabriel Ruiz Almansa, a season ticket holder for the best part of thirty years has given up his seat positioned just metres away from the Santiago Bernabeu dugouts for Mourinho to take a close-up vantage point of his side on Sunday night– almost compensating for the imposed ban. Assistant Coach and erstwhile Real and Athletic defender Aitor Karanka will take up the coaching mantle for the second consecutive game as Los Blancos head into the fixture with no fresh injury or suspension worries after a midweek international break.

Los Blancos currently lead the Primera Division table by a solitary point ahead of rivals Barcelona, and with a host of favourable records on their side this term including the best goal scoring and defensive records; Joaquin Caparros’ men from the Basque country will have to run the Bernabeu gauntlet and the history books if they are to come away from the Spanish capital with any rewards for their efforts. Statistics normally do not reveal the full story, but Bilbao’s sorry plight against one of their old enemy makes miserable reading with the red and white outfit suffering eleven defeats out of twelve in previous meetings.

But with Mourinho not occupying his usual berth, perhaps an upset could be on the cards especially with Madrid being rapped up in the pressure of wanting to head into next weeks ‘El Clasico’ ahead of their Nou Camp equivalents, who face the relatively easy trip to relegation candidates Almeria this weekend.

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