Grabbing an opposing coach by the face and placing a finger near his eye, making inappropriate gestures to rival players and attacking ball boys for time wasting — Jose Mourinho has taken his abrasive tactics to a new level.
The Real Madrid coach’s antics during a mass brawl near the end of the Spanish Supercup against Barcelona on Wednesday are threatening to taint his club’s image and detract from the thrilling soccer two of the world’s best teams are capable of producing.
Mourinho strolled through a cluster of fighting players and brusquely flicked a finger near Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova’s eye. Vilanova, who had his back to Mourinho, turned and reciprocated with a push.
Players left both benches to join the fight at Camp Nou, resulting in three players being sent off to overshadow what had been an attractive game of soccer decided by Messi’s 87th-minute winner which gave Barcelona a record 10th Supercup and third straight.
Referee David Fernandez Borbalan’s failure to include details of Mourinho’s incident in his match report means he and Vilanova are likely to escape punishment when the disciplinary committee meets next week.
Madrid pair Marcelo and Mesut Oezil and Barcelona striker David Villa could also avoid a ban despite being sent off, since the Supercup is considered a one-off competition and sanctions do not necessarily carry over to other domestic competitions.
El Pais newspaper described the match, which Barcelona won 3-2 for a 5-4 aggregate victory, as “Football from Another Planet.”
However, while El Mundo Deportivo echoed those sentiments, the Barcelona-based sports newspaper then took a stab at the Madrid coach by saying: “Mourinho dirties football further; [Madrid] don’t know how to lose nor win.”
Barcelona’s players labeled Madrid’s soccer a “disgrace,” while Gerard Pique said: “Mourinho is destroying Spanish football.”
The question is what are Mourinho’s tactics doing to Madrid’s reputation at a time when it cannot find a way to beat its biggest rival.
“The images speak for themselves,” Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. “There are certain things that shouldn’t be done. This will all end badly if it doesn’t stop.”
Former Barcelona president Joan Gaspart said on Catalan radio that soccer had given Mourinho a “double personality.”
“This is not his way of being, he’s a normal person. I don’t ever remember one coach attacking another. I hope this all ends with Mourinho apologizing to Vilanova,” said Gaspart, who headed the club when Mourinho worked there as an assistant, although fans continue to refer to him as “the translator.”
“Madrid adores him, but the truth is this isn’t the Mourinho I know,” Gaspart added.
Mourinho was also seen making an inappropriate gestures toward Lionel Messi and Daniel Alves.
He later made a derogatory remark about Vilanova in the postgame news conference and accused Barcelona’s ball boys of time wasting, saying the tactic was something a “small-time” club like Barcelona did.
“I am very happy for my team after what happened in the end. What happened is somebody provoked the situation, and it certainly wasn’t a player from Real Madrid,” the Portuguese coach said.
However, even former Madrid general director Jorge Valdano was distressed by the end of the match.
“Without a doubt that was the worst way to end the Spanish Supercup,” Valdano said.