Real Madrid’s president Florentino Pérez hired José Mourinho in 2010 thinking he was the perfect candidate, a top icon who would re-establish Real Madrid as the best football club in the world.
But that bubble has burst.
Why wasn’t the ‘special one’ that ‘special’ in the end?
Mistake number one: Not understanding the philosophy of Real Madrid
Jose Mourinho behaved as if he was still working for a club such as Chelsea or Inter, teams that have been losers in football history but where his high coaching profile would be a perfect fit.
But that wasn’t the case for a historically winning club like Real Madrid.
Mourinho did not realise Florentino’s expectations.
"Three titles in three years and without the European Cup are not enough for a club like Real Madrid", says Lola Hernández, football correspondent for La Información.com.
His style of play was based on a strong defence and a stunning counterattack, giving up possession of the ball. This coaching philosophy clashed with Real Madrid’s tradition of attacking football. Real are Spain’s biggest football club and they are always expected to play on the attack and be possession kings.
But beyond the sporting achievements, what really made Mou the wrong coach for Real Madrid was his behaviour.
Mistake number two: Arguments with Madrid players
Mourinho was on the same boat but rowing in the opposite direction.
He didn’t hesitate to punish all those players who disagreed with him: Defender Pepe, midfielder Khedira, defender Sergio Ramos, midfielder Pedro León, goalkeeper Iker Casillas (more of below) and even striker Cristiano Ronaldo experienced the consequences of his displeasure.
When Ramos criticised him for never being a football player and therefore being unaware of several aspects of their style of play, Mou’s answer was to leave him on bench during various matches.
Mourinho lost the morale of the majority of his players, which hadn’t happened in his former clubs.
Mistake number three: Letting Madridistas down
His behaviour disappointed Madridistas, who ended up booing him and asking for his dismissal.
Former Real Madrid’s player Guti said that Mou ‘had been a real disappointment’ for the club and ‘he should have been more humble’.
But what hurt Spaniards the most was how Mou treated one of their heroes: Real’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Mou accused him of being a ‘mole’ in the dressing room, leaking to the press all the arguments he has been having with his players in the last three years. Let’s not forget that his girlfriend is the famous Spanish sports journalist Sara Carbonero.
Casillas is one of the most loved players in Spain, not only by Madridistas, but also by all Spanish football fans. He was the captain of Spain’s national team La Roja and lifted the cup when they won the European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and the World Cup in 2010.
Many of them miss Spain’s national coach Vicente del Bosque, who is considered to be a real gentleman. Projecting that image of elegance is essential for a club like Real Madrid and poking people’s eyes is not part of it.
Mistake number four: Arguments with other coaches
Mourinho’s clashes with former Sporting coach Manuel Preciado and Barcelona’s manager Tito Vilanova, whom he poked in the eye, are the most controversial.
Madrid fans are tired of his way of leading the team and how he damages their image publicly every time he opens his mouth.
"Nobody understands what’s wrong with Mou", said Real Madrid supporter Antonio Jesús González.
"He has always been controversial in his declarations to the press, but recently he has been especially hard with his players and with all Real Madrid’s former coaches."
Mistake number five: Forcing his own dismissal
According to a recent poll carried out by Spanish sports paper As, 88 per cent of almost 24,000 Madrid fans think Mourinho forced his own dismissal.
"Mou wanted to leave. Moreover, his holiday trips to London and his declarations about how much he loves Chelsea, when he was still the Real Madrid’s coach, have annoyed people", said Alberto Siles, Executive producer of sports production company Mediáticos.
Mou’s recent attitude towards the media showed a man who didn’t care anymore about his position, railing at everybody about everything.
This behaviour is not the best strategy to improve Madrid’s reputation.
Mistake number six: Clashing with the Spanish press
When Mourinho arrived in Spain, he said that the press conferences were part of the game.
But the situation got out of hand.
Spain is not like England, where some of his comments were taken as a joke. In Spain every single comment he made was taken personally and studied in detail.
He didn’t understand that Spanish sports journalists monitor constantly what happens in the club and are tough in their criticism.
Part of his job was also to handle that pressure professionally.
"Mourinho doesn’t take criticism well. He cornered my colleague Antón Meana from Marca in a separate room after a press conference", says Paco Grande, sports journalist for Spain’s state television TVE.
"Something like that must be forbidden in a club that claims being modern and exemplary such as Real Madrid",
Grande also told Al Jazeera English that Mou looked down on Spanish journalists but used them at the same time.
"He manipulates the press conferences as he pleases. He knows how to deliver the message he wants, and if he doesn’t, he sends Karanka, the second-in-command, showing disdain to those who he desperately needs in other situations."
But Mou and the Spanish press have a love-hate relationship. He has been an infinite source of news for Spanish sport journalists.
Mourinho lost. But it wasn’t Real Madrid’s pressure that burnt him, as Florentino claimed, it was him.
He set himself on fire and was consumed by his own flames.
What’s clear now is that many Spanish sports journalists will miss him.
For the headlines, of course.
Manuela Lanza is an Italo-Spanish journalist pursuing an MA in international journalism at City University London with a concentration on broadcast. She is based in London. Manuela speaks Spanish, Italian, English, French and Catalan. Follow her on Twitter @ManuelaNEWS