The furore surrounding Real Madrid’s manager Jose Mourinho has reached boiling point over the last six weeks. With the reigning champions falling further behind league leaders Barcelona and the relegation of club captain Iker Casillas to the bench the Portuguese leader’s time at the Spanish capital looks to be coming to an end.
It is hard to decipher whether Madrid’s collapse this season is solely down to the players or the manager. Both pulled together magnificently last year to win the title but the physical and mental demands have clearly taken their toll.
This season the players don’t appear able to repeat their levels of performance and Mourinho clearly recognises this. However, his decision to drop Casillas to the bench for the game against Malaga just before Christmas appears to have rocked the boat a little more than expected.
Last week though the story took an unexpected twist when Casillas broke a bone in his left hand during a cup tie against Valencia. The captain now faces three months on the side lines and will miss the domestic cup semi-final against Barcelona and the Champions League first knock out stage against Manchester United.
Despite some of Mourinho’s recent backing of the back up keeper Antonio Adan there is a feeling that games against some of the best sides in Europe may be a step too far.
The club has therefore moved quickly to bring in some cover for their captain and have purchased Diego Lopez from Sevilla. The former Madridista left the club in 2006 after falling behind Casillas in the pecking order but is now delighted to return to the club he grew up at. Having established himself as one of the best keepers in the league during his spell with Villarreal he has struggled to hold down a first team place at Sevilla this season so a move suits both parties.
It is very difficult not to see a sense of irony in Casillas’ injury this week. It is not the first time in recent memory that a Madrid player has held a majority sway within the dressing room and questions were raised about the legitimacy of Casillas’ relegation to the bench when it initially happened.
Power struggles are a common theme at the club and although Mourinho may have wanted to make a point by dropping his captain he would have wanted him fit to face Barcelona and Manchester United.
However, it is now the situation he finds himself in and with Madrid desperate to win their tenth Champions League trophy this season it is time to focus. There should never be a player in any side who is an automatic selection and this is clearly what Mourinho wanted to underline.
However, he now finds himself without the best goalkeeper in the world for the most crucial part of the season.
Written by Andy Hunter
Follow him on Twitter @hunter67980
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