Perez tipping Mourinho to bring back Real Madrid glory days
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez felt the opportunity to bring Jose Mourinho to the club was one that could not be missed as the Spanish giants look to become the dominant force in Europe once again.
Speaking at a press conference last night following a board meeting at the Bernabeu, Perez confirmed the widely-anticipated news that Madrid had parted company with coach Manuel Pellegrini and intended to appoint Mourinho in his place.
Madrid will have to wait until Mourinho resolves his contract negotiations with Inter Milan, with whom he has a deal until June 2012, to confirm the Portuguese as their new coach.
However, Madrid are closing in on the hugely-successful 47-year-old and Perez believes he is the right man to take the club forward.
“I am willing to recognise that I have committed some errors, (but) at this moment I am absolutely convinced the incorporation of Mourinho, who is one of the best coaches in the world, if not the best, is an opportunity this Madrid, which fights permanently for excellence, couldn't let pass by,” said the Madrid chief.
Perez employed six different coaches during his first reign at the club between 2000 and 2006, and if Mourinho takes charge he will be the 11th manager Madrid have had in the last seven years.
During that time Madrid have won just two major trophies and are no longer the top dogs either in Spain or Europe.
In La Liga arch rivals Barcelona have won back-to-back titles while in the European Cup, a competition Madrid have won a record nine times, they have fallen at the last-16 stage in each of the last six seasons.
When Perez returned to the Madrid presidency last summer it was his aim to take the Whites back to the top of European foot
ball, announcing a “spectacular project” to achieve that ambition.
Perez wasted no time trying to turn that goal into reality, spending around 250million euro on bringing in the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso.
The man tasked with turning all those newcomers into a winning team was Pellegrini, a coach who had performed wonders during five seasons at Villarreal but had not won silverware at the Yellow Submarine.
Pellegrini started well enough in the Bernabeu hotseat, winning his first six Primera Division and Champions League games.
However, things started to go wrong in October when they lost to Sevilla in La Liga and then AC Milan in Europe before suffering a humiliating 4-0 defeat to third-tier Alcorcon in the first leg of their opening Copa del Rey tie.
Madrid waved goodbye to the competition after only winning the return leg 1-0 at the Bernabeu, and the knives were out for Pellegrini following that embarrassment.
After that came the massively disappointing early Champions League exit at the hands of Lyon, a competition Madrid had placed a huge amount of stock in with the final being held at their Bernabeu home.
Madrid were much better in La Liga, pushing Barcelona all the way to the final weekend and accumulating 96 points and scoring 102 goals.
That was not enough to wrest the title off Barca, though, with Pep Guardiola's side finishing three points clear of the capital club.
“The change of coach is always difficult, but we are convinced that after this first year and this first phase, now is the moment to give a new impulse to our project,” said Perez.
“A year ago we there was a huge and unprecedented effort to configure and put together a squad capable of aspiring to the highest level.
“We have advanced a lot, but we still have a lot of ground to cover.
“This club demands the maximum and is always in search of excellence.
“Winning and being leaders in Europe has always been the desire of our members and fans, and therefore, that's the objective of this board.”
Pellegrini's departure now opens the door for Mourinho.
The former Chelsea and Porto coach has long been linked to the Spanish giants and after leading Inter to the Champions League title on Saturday at the Bernabeu admitted he was likely to leave the Italian outfit.
“There is nobody on the board who has given an opinion against the signing of Jose Mourinho, on the contrary, they are enthusiastic at being able to recruit one of the best coaches in the world,” added Perez.
Mourinho, who led Inter to an unprecedented treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League titles this season, is under contract with the Nerazzurri for another two years, but has a get-out clause in his deal which will be exercised should Madrid meet the fee of 16million euros.
Mourinho is confident he will be coaching in Spain next season and has no doubt Madrid will pay whatever is required to secure his services.
He met with Inter's finance director Rinaldo Ghelfi in Milan yesterday and afterwards told reporters: “Now I am on holiday, then I will go and work in Spain.”
Perez added: “We have reflected a lot on this season.
“It's not just not winning a title. We consider that we are in a suitable moment to bet on one of the best coaches in the world, and the opportunity to bring him to the club is there.”