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Friday November 30 2012
Mourinho’s must-win derby

Jose Mourinho is in need of a win of his future as much as Real Madrid’s, writes Sam Marsden.

In support of his Coach, Iker Casillas commented that 'in football there is no memory'. He is right, but at the moment Jose Mourinho, both on and off the field, is beginning to become his own worst enemy as he battles to get Real Madrid's lagging La Liga campaign back on track. 

13 games have passed in the League and the Portuguese has already seen his side drop 13 points, just one less than in the whole of 2011-12. They sit 11 points back from Barcelona and are eight behind city rivals Atletico Madrid heading into this weekend's derby at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. The title, many say, has already slipped from their grasp.

Last year after clear the air talks with his squad, Mourinho promised his players less provocative interviews and media outbursts, something which went out the window in an interview with France Football recently when he stirred the pot saying ‘all journalists, even those in Madrid, are against Real Madrid itself’. The comments have not been well received by the media nor by some members of his playing staff.

Back on the pitch, last weekend’s defeat to Real Betis in Seville highlighted the difference between the way their opposition approach them this season as opposed to last. Teams are more prepared to let Los Blancos have the ball. Where last season Madrid were quick, incisive and exhilarating on the break, this season they have seen sides adopt an approach more familiar with when facing Barcelona, stifling that threat.

For the people that breathe the club though, this is not an explanation. In Tuesday night's Copa del Rey tie against Alcoyano, sections of the support were split - those that were with Mourinho and those that were against him. Some cheered, some whistled. With Atletico visiting this weekend, it would be more beneficial for them all to cheer the 49-year-old, who was unsurprisingly revealed as the highest paid Coach in the world this week.

At the same time, six previous Real Madrid managers have found themselves more than six points off the lead at this stage of the season and none of them lasted until May. If Mourinho wishes to avoid adding to that statistic he will need to get his side back on track and his fans off his back - what better occasion than the visit of their city rivals?

It presents both the best and worst case scenario. If all goes to plan and Cristiano Ronaldo finds his shooting boots after one goal in his last six games, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria recapture their Championship-winning form and the defence shut out Radamel Falcao and friends then Jose may restore some of the Madridstas’ faith in him.

In the worst case scenario, though, a first Rojiblancos win in 21 League games dating back to 1999, the pressure dramatically intensifies on Mourinho. After the Champions League draw at Manchester City which eliminated the home team, he remarked he ‘wouldn't be allowed back in Madrid’ were that his side, if they lose on Saturday night he’ll do well to keep himself out of the Spanish capital himself.

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