Among the football headlines in Spain this weekend: “Con perro cazas; con gato cazas, pero menos“–aphoristic words of wisdom gleaned from the Jose Mourinho’s press conference yesterday, which translates roughly to “You hunt with a dog; with a cat you hunt, but less so.” Remarkably, this isn’t the first time the Special One has made the news for canine-related matters.
The comments about hunting with cats vs dogs had something to do with the injury to Higuain (el perro, we presume), which has left Benzema as el gato–Mourinho’s only option at striker.
Real Madrid mouthpiece Marca transcribed some Mourinho’s monologue, which gives the context:
Soy entrenador y entreno a los jugadores que tengo a mi disposición. El tema del fichaje es un tema de la gente de arriba. Yo ya dije que era difícil afrontar la temporada sólo con Benzema e Higuaín, ahora sólo con Benzema será aún más difícil. Si vas a cazar y sólo tienes un gato, tendrás que salir con el gato porque solo no puedes ir. Si vas con un buen perro, cazas más. Si vas con un gato, cazas menos pero cazas.
Watch and listen to some bits of the press conference:
I must admit, I am falling for the yet-nascent psychodrama that is Mourinho in Madrid (“MiM” from now on). So I eagerly clicked thru when online footy mag fourfourtwo.com‘s La Liga Loca blog led with the headline “Mourinho Finally Gets Mad“, and kicked off the post with some purple prose:
For months now, the Spanish press have been performing their solemn duty of trying to make José Mourinho go completely postal, but sadly with little success.
However, on Monday evening, it was joy to the world and ding dong merrily on high as, after a trying period of four press conferences a week for the Bernabeu boss, hours and hours of provoking, probing and pressing finally brought some decent results – not only did Mourinho completely lose his rag, he also found it again and then set it on fire…
Will Real Marid be able to score away from home? Will all the talk and camera time get monopolized by Mourinho, or will Marseilles manager Didier Deschamps also get a bit of attention?
Will Arsenal rebound from their debacle Saturday? Will Lukasz Fabianski prove any more capable than the injured Almunia?
Will Martin Stekelenburg do as well (or even better) against AC Milan’s, compared with his stellar albeit losing performance against Ronaldo, Higauin, Ozil et al two weeks ago? Will he get any help from Luis Suarez if the need arises?
It was an interesting weekend in Europe, filled with unexpected results–the big dogs all across the continent came up short. Chelsea, Arsenal, Inter Milan, and Bayern Munich all suffered ignominious defeats, while Manchester United and Real Madrid could only manage disappointing draws. The only power that didn’t disappoint their supporters was Barcelona, which won convincingly. (Question: Are there other European club sides that rank with these six?)
In England, previously perfect Chelsea lost to Manchester City 1-0, the lone goal coming off a tremendous individual effort by Man City’s dogged and talented Argentine captain, Carlos Tevez. (Keep scrolling down for video of Tevez’s goal, among others.)
But the two sides chasing Chelsea in the standings failed to capitalize: Man U had to come from behind twice to salvage a 2-2 draw against Bolton. That was far better than Arsenal, who were shockingly down 3-0 against unheralded West Brom late in the 2nd half. Two late strikes by the young Frenchman Samir Nasri (a replay of one of which is included below) made the score a more respectable-looking 3-2, but Arsenal came off their home pitch with many more questions than points.
Meanwhile, on the Continent, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, last season’s Champions League finalists, and the clear favorites to win their respective domestic leagues, both lost as well. Bayern lost 2-1 to minnows Mainz, while Inter went down 1-0 to AS Roma–a club with a rich history, but this year’s edition had struggled at the start of this season.
But last year’s Champions League finalists and their respective pursuits of finishing atop Serie A or the Bundes Liga are secondary compared to the annual epic struggle between Barcelona and Real Madrid for the La Liga title. The drama d’Espana is especially intense this year, as Real Madrid have of course brought in The Special One, whose tasks are to win the Champions League and La Liga–any less will be considered a failure by the demanding Madridistas–and by Mourinho himself. But Mourinho’s Madrid failed to bring the flair, being held to a very surprising scoreless draw against Levante. Meanwhile, Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 3-1, slipping ahead of Real Madrid in the table, though still second to surprising Valencia.
For more on these matches, check the links below–and the videos.
They bickered when they both coached in the Prem. They snapped at each other when Mourinho went to Italy. And now that Benítez has inherited Jose’s old Inter squad, the special one has a few thoughts on how Rafa destroyed Liverpool and how he’ll do the same at Inter. He also feels sorry for Hodgson. Check out the full text at the Telegraph. I love this guy.
“One thing is certain, Benítez won’t do better than me at Inter. Another thing is also true that, should he lift the Intercontinental Cup, he will have only won two games compared to my 13. Therefore it will be my trophy and not his.”
Another German standout at the World cup has had his head turned by a glamor club. Khedira scored the winning goal in the third place game with his header against Uruguay, and has been a rock as the holding midfielder at Stuttgart. Now Mourinho is showing interest, and Sami is listening:
“I am mulling over the thought of making a move to Real Madrid, ” Khedira told Bild. “The club has confirmed that they are interested. Real Madrid is the biggest clubs in the whole world and Jose Mourinho is one of the most successful managers in the game.
It’s always a gamble to leave the small pond, especially when you’ll be fighting the likes of Madrid’s first team for a place on the pitch. Mourinho tends to like veterans who play out his tactical game, but he has shown some development skills over the years (most recently with 19 yr-old defender Davide Santon at Inter) so it’s unlikely he’s about to bring on an expensive bench warmer.
This has been the tournament of 4-2-3-1. The move has been apparent in club football for some time; in fact, it may be that 4-2-3-1 is beginning to be supplanted by variants of 4-3-3 at club level, but international football these days lags behind the club game, and this tournament has confirmed the trend that began to emerge at Euro 2008. Even Michael Owen seems to have noticed, which is surely the tipping point.
Click thru for more–much more: commentary on the tactics of Spain, Germany, Holland, Argentina, Ghana, and Brazil, with some notes about all that fit into the context of club football tactics over the past decade , e.g.:
The Special One presided over the first day of training at Real Madrid on Thursday, though 2/3 of the squad were on rest after international duty and didn’t have to show. He’s already made some changes to the day-to-day, and he’s sure to keep the press happy. Check out a bit more over at The Independent
Mention Mourinho’s name to Barça fans and first there is a twitch of the nose, as if a bad smell has wafted across the room, followed by a more respectful shrug of the shoulders. The Catalan purists do not like the way his sides play football, but they know he wastes no time in finding winning ways, whichever club he manages.