José Mourinho Leaves Tough Task for Successor at Real Madrid

José MourinhoJosé Mourinho’s third and final season with Real Madrid has been full of drama, more than anything. The club recently announced that the Portuguese will not continue in Madrid next season and the club is already looking for a replacement. Mourinho’s time in Madrid can’t be fully considered a success, but it can’t be considered a full failure either, and his legacy in the club will make the job of his successor quite difficult.

Mourinho arrived in Madrid with one thing in mind: ending Barcelona’s era. The coach himself wasn’t too hesitant to admit that his goal was to end Barcelona’s dominance and make Real Madrid a winning team again. He did that by winning the Copa Del Rey during his first season, however, that’s hardly what his first season will be remembered for.

After Mourinho’s arrival in Madrid, the Clasicós became very intense. The rivalry seemed to get out of hand; Madrid played ultra-physical and ultra-defensive football against Barcelona. The Clasicós were no longer a battle on the pitch, they were a battle in the press rooms and sidelines too. It seemed like Mourinho had pulled his team to a state where beating Barcelona was the most important thing. Managing to do that in the Copa Del Rey might not have been done in the most beautiful way, but it added to the players’ confidence, results of which were seen in the following season.

Real Madrid’s season of 2011-2012 was impressive domestically. It’s fair to say that’s when the team played its best football under Mourinho, ended up winning the La Liga and even managed to beat Barcelona in the process, this time, by playing better football. But 2011-2012 wasn’t only the most successful season Mourinho had in Madrid, it was also the turning point of his time with the Spanish giants. The objective had been reached, Real Madrid had beaten Barcelona domestically, and despite the disappointment in Europe, Mourinho’s second year was a success. Then what started the downfall that led to the trophiless season in 2012-2013?

Real MadridPerhaps, in some way, Mourinho ran out of ways to motivate his players. After winning the La Liga ahead of Barcelona, Mourinho could no longer motivate the players with the thought of beating Barcelona, in other words, he could no longer use the tactic that had united the squad and made them a winning force.

When the 2012-2013 season kicked off, the mentality of the squad was nothing like the year before. They impressed in Europe but struggled domestically. And when the Liga title started to slip out of their hands, Mourinho’s relationship to his players started to crack.

It’s hard to say what actually happened between Mourinho and some of his key players such as Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos. But it might not be a coincidence that Mourinho’s relationship with the two experienced Madrid-icons fell apart; Mourinho changed a lot and did a lot of things against the club’s values, and the two players didn’t digest that and the relationship broke down. That’s when the whole team started to crack, as the Spanish players took Casillas and Ramos’ side, the Portuguese stars stood behind Mourinho. The unity that had won them the La Liga was long gone, and eventually lead to a trophiless season.

Mourinho leaves Madrid in a state of disaster. He did what he promised to do - ending Barcelona’s dominance in Spain - but failed to keep Madrid on top and failed to maintain the unity of his squad. By Mourinho’s standards, his time in Madrid is not a success and it’s surely not as much as people in Madrid hoped for. Even more importantly, Mourinho leaves a rather difficult task for his successor.

Real Madrid is reportedly chasing Carlo Ancelotti to replace Mourinho, other names linked to the club are Jupp Heynckes and André Villas-Boas. Ancelotti looks like the most likely, and perhaps the best option. He is no stranger to dealing with big egos and the solid display his side put up against Barcelona will surely encourage Real Madrid’s board.

Real MadridHeynckes might well be a good option as well if he decides to continue his career. However, Madrid’s rather complicated situation might see him stay away as the Spanish club’s management is nothing like it was in the very well organized and stable Bayern Munich. Or perhaps Heynckes himself would be the one to stabilize things in Madrid, who knows?

André Villas-Boas, another name linked to Madrid, is a great coach, but taking over a club like Real Madrid might be a bit too much to ask for. Villas-Boas never really got along with the big egos in Chelsea, and there surely won’t be any less of those egos in Madrid. With the urgent need to get Madrid back on track, Villas-Boas - who trusts a process instead of quick changes - might not be the right man for the job.

Either way, whoever replaces Mourinho will have to find a way to unite the squad again. Mourinho leaves Madrid in square one, they have to start rebuilding again, just like they did in 2010 when Mourinho arrived. The progress Mourinho made was more or less destroyed by the internal collapse of the team, something Mourinho himself can be partly blamed for. Mourinho started a fire that got out of control, and now it’s time for Madrid find someone capable of taming the flames.

Written by Jen Evelyn

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Pep Guardiola to Coach Bayern Munich Next Season

Despite multiple rumors about Pep Guardiola coaching in the Premier League after his season-long break from football, it turns out that the Spaniard is actually heading toward Germany in July.

Pep Guardiola Makes Move to Bayern MunichThe former Barcelona defensive-midfielder has been in close contact with many of Europe’s most successful clubs, such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris St Germain, and AC Milan.

Many felt Man City was the right place for Guardiola, considering their signing of now former Barcelona players Ferra Sorriano and Txiki Begiristain over the summer.

In November, Milan President Silvio Berlusconi said:

“Who would not want someone like Guardiola? There are some English clubs after Guardiola, especially Manchester City, who have directors that we know very well. We will try to sign him, but it’s going to be difficult.”

Unfortunately for them, though, he chose Germany. Bundesliga side Bayern Munich have confirmed that Guardiola agreed to take on the managerial position. The 3-year contract he signed will see him coach Bayern all the way through 2016.

The 41-year old left Barcelona in May 2012 after winning 14 trophies, 2 of which were Champions League titles, during his 4 years as the club’s manager.

At the press conference today, Bayern President Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said:

“We are very pleased that we have managed to convince the football expert Pep Guardiola, who was coveted and contacted by many top clubs, to come to Bayern Munich.”

“He is one of the most successful coaches in the world and we are sure that he can make not just Bayern, but all of German football shine.”

Bayern currently have the lead on the Bundesliga table, standing a comfortable 9 points clear of 2nd placed Bayer Leverkusen and 12 points ahead of German Giants Borussia Dortmund.

Current Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, who is 67 years old, announced that he will not be extending his stay with the club past the end of the 2012-2013 season. Guardiola will take current Heynckes’ place the day after his contract expires on 30 June.Pep Guardiola

Praising Bayern’s soon-to-be coach, General Manager Uli Hoeness said:

“Only a coach of Guardiola’s calibre came into consideration as a successor to Jupp Heynckes.”

Returning for his 3rd time to Bayern, this will be Heynckes 7th year coaching the squad. Bayern has been doing a spectacular job in his final months as manager, holding a huge lead on Bundesliga table as the league resumes following winter break this weekend.

The German side will also be facing Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League this February, hoping to move on and eventually emerge European Champions for the first time since 2001.

Earlier today, Guardiola said he believes he will still take on the “challenge” and serve as a coach in the Premier League after spending his 3 years with Bayern:

“As a player I couldn’t realize my dream to play in England.”

“But I hope in the future, I have a challenge to be a coach or a manager there.”

Guardiola retired from playing football in 2006, and became manager of Barcelona’s B-team the following season. After spending a year with the B-team, Guardiola was promoted to manager of Barcelona’s senior squad, replacing Frank Rijkaard.

Under his leadership, Barcelona became one of the top teams in club football. The Spanish side racked up 2 Champions League and 3 La Liga titles during his 4 years there.

Bayern Munich have made the Champions League final twice in the last 3 years, but conceded the titles to Inter Milan in 2010 and Chelsea in 2012. Pep Guardiola’s leadership may be the final push that Bayern needs to get through to the final and win it all, but as of now, all we can do is sit and watch what happens.

Written by FutbolPulse

Mario Gomez Returns to Bayern Munich Three Months After Ankle Injury

Germany international striker Mario Gomez has finally returned to Bayern Munich after over 3 months of recovering from ankle injuries. Gomez picked up the injury during the semi-final of the Liga-total! Cup against Werder Bremen in Hamburg. The 27 year old underwent surgeries to remove loose bodies in his right ankle in August, just before the start of the 2012-2013 Bundesliga season.

Gomez returned to the pitch on November 13th in a friendly match against minor league club FC Falke Markt Schwaben. 101 days after his last game with Bayern, he scored 4 goals for his squad, and also, destroyed a ball.

Gomez opened the scoring at 7 minutes, after which Mitch Weiser doubled their lead. Gomez, who was clearly eager to perform well for the team after his long break, made it 3-0 when he managed to kick a penalty into the net so hard that the ball deflated. By the end of the match, Gomez netted 2 more goals, with another coming from Peruvian striker Claudio Pizarro.

Proud of his 4-goal “debut,” Gomez said to, ”It’s not like I’ve been away for six years. Let’s not exaggerate, they weren’t the toughest of opponents.”

But Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes refused to let Gomez participate in their Bundesliga match with FC Nürnberg on Saturday, which ended in a shocking 1-1 draw. Heynckes later stated, “He has been out for three months, and now made his first steps. Let’s see how he copes with the match.”

But Heynckes did select Gomez in his squad for the Champions League Group F match against La Liga side Valencia CF. In Spain, Gomez played as a substitute at his first competitive game since August. Despite Valencia’s early red card, the Spanish took the lead at 77 minutes after a strike from Sofiane Feghouli. But Gomez’s substitution for Franck Ribéry just 2 minutes later proved vital to their comeback and taking the top spot in Group F. On the 82nd minute, Gomez set up and assisted a perfect goal that was sent flying into the net by fellow teammate Thomas Müller, ending the match with the score of 1-1.

But Bayern Munich has not suffered without their star striker these last few months. Mario Mandžukić and Claudio Pizarro, who were signed into Bayern this past summer, have been sending goals in game after game, making the team’s attacking end the least of their concerns. Mandžukić leads the Bundesliga scoring chart with a total of 8 goals, while Claudio Pizarro has proven to be a great alternative to the Croatian striker after completing a hat trick in their Champions League match against LOSC Lille.

So what more could they want? Now that Gomez is back, Bayern Munich will be virtually unstoppable in the Bundesliga and they will have a great chance in the Champions League. With their successes, Gomez had been nearly forgotten, but he will just be the icing on the cake (and a lot of it) now that he is back.

The German striker was Bayern’s most popular forward until his ankle injury, and he intends to keep it that way now that he has returned. But Gomez, who was last year’s top scorer, must first oust Mandžukić and show that he is the better striker despite the Croatian’s successes, as a fight for the top spot is clearly looming in the team’s future.

On Wednesday, Gomez confidently told reporters, “There’s always this talk that I’m not able to compete, but I’ve been competing for eight years with very good strikers and have managed to come out on top.” And with his return, one thing is certain: Jupp Heynckes will have big selection headaches in all of Bayern’s upcoming matches.

But, Heynckes has plenty of time to think as his side prepares for their last 7 matches of the calendar year. This gives him plenty of opportunities to rotate and adjust the squad and ease Gomez back into the team, as the German international prepares for a massive comeback for Bayern Munich.

Written by FutbolPulse