Mourinho under pressure for dropping Casillas

Updated 25 December 2012
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Mourinho under pressure for dropping Casillas

BARCELONA: Real Madrid President Florentino Perez’s confounded expression upon hearing that veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas had been dropped for Saturday’s game against Malaga showed just how far coach Jose Mourinho has gone in his quest to exert control over the club.
And it may be that Mourinho has finally gone too far.
After waves of criticism from fans and players alike as Madrid slumped to a 3-2 loss in the game, the question arises whether Perez has reached the limits of his support for the often successful, yet equally abrasive, Mourinho.
“Mourinho has his particular way of dealing with his squad,” said former Madrid player and coach Jorge Valdano. “But this was him doubling down. It was an exhibition of power. It was him imposing his decision on a club legend.” Mourinho did not announce his decision to drop Casillas, highly respected both in Spain and abroad for his decade of quality service in Madrid’s net, for the little-used Adan Garrido until minutes before the game.
The move backfired in the second half when Malaga scored on the inexperienced Adan three times to deal Madrid another loss that left it flagging 16 points adrift of Spanish leader Barcelona and its league title defense hopes shattered.
Mourinho said that he had picked Adan because he was “in better form” than Casillas.
That argument was far from convincing to fans and players past and present.
A fan poll published on Monday by Spanish sports daily Marca indicates that most of Madrid’s fans want Mourinho out. Eighty-two percent of the almost 100,000 participants in the online poll voted yes to the question “Should Real Madrid fire Mourinho?” “Iker doesn’t need to be punished to play better,” said former Madrid goalkeeper Cesar Sanchez, an old teammate of Casillas. “This only brings to a boil the atmosphere of conflict that Madrid already has.” Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said after the match that he was “surprised” by the decision.
Casillas told La Sexta television on Sunday that he felt fine and that Mourinho hadn’t told him why he had been benched.
“I’m not used to being a backup,” Casillas said. “But the team is above any player. I have to keep training and try to win back my place in the starting lineup.” Since arriving at Madrid three seasons ago, Mourinho has won a Spanish league title in 2012 and a Copa del Rey a year earlier.
But he has also ruffled the feathers of more than one of Madrid’s purist fans, as well as dispatching several perceived enemies within the club.
Casillas, the captain of Madrid and Spain’s world and two-time European championship national team, was always seen as untouchable.
The 31-year-old goalkeeper is the most revered member of Madrid’s current squad. Many fans see him as the last link to the winning days of the “Galaticos” of David Beckham, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane and to the prior golden era of beloved forward Raul Gonzalez and Vicente del Bosque, the club’s ultimate “gentleman” coach.
Two weeks ago, Perez called Casillas “a legendary captain of Real Madrid.” “He is one of the great captains in the history of this club,” Perez said. “He shows that above and beyond winning titles, he knows how to interpret this institution.” And therein lies the potential problem for Mourinho.
Perez had not been informed of Casillas’ exclusion when a journalist for Canal Plus television showed him the lineup minutes before the game. The 65-year-old club president, who in his 10 years has made Madrid one of the world’s richest teams, raised his glasses as if to get a better look at the player list and then, apparently stunned, just turned away.
Perez has been Mourinho’s biggest backer.
He has defended the Portuguese coach every time he has been questioned by the sector of Madrid’s fans who interpret that his aggressive style goes against the club’s proud tradition of always behaving in a “noble” manner. Perez didn’t flinch even when Mourinho poked Barcelona’s then assistant and now head coach, Tito Vilanova, in the eye during a melee between the archrivals.




Last week, with Mourinho under increasing pressure to turn things around in the league, Perez told a meeting of club members that Mourinho had his “confidence” and “affection.” Mourinho is known for wanting to control how much information from his dressing room reaches the media, and he has had no problem taking on other personalities within the club.
In 2011, Valdano, then the club’s spokesman, left after his conflict with Mourinho went public with the coach openly discrediting him.
Mourinho belittled player Pedro Leon before he was shipped back to Getafe. He has even ostracized former Ballon d’Or winner Kaka, for whom Madrid paid €65 million (then $92 million) in 2009, to an almost permanent role on the substitutes’ bench.
This season, he benched defender Ramos after a supposed dispute, and he has used various press conferences to criticize the running of Madrid’s B-team by coach Alberto Toril.
And through all of this Perez has been there to grant him his wishes, including a contract extension last summer that ties Mourinho to Madrid until the end of the 2016 season.
Mourinho, a former Chelsea, Inter Milan and FC Porto manager, has enjoyed the unquestioning support of Madrid’s most radical fans, which even applauded his eyepoke of Vilanova with a large sign at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium that read: “Your finger points the way forward.” But that could all change after the Casillas benching. And if Mourinho losses Madrid’s die-hard fans it may be only a question of time before his last defender also abandons him.
Columnist Tomas Roncero, who writes for sports daily AS and represents the most vehement section of Madrid’s fans, wrote on Sunday that “Mou threw down the gauntlet without weighing the consequences.” “(Casillas) is the triumphant symbol of Spain that has dominated the European and World Cups since 2008. Mou can’t understand this sensibility because it’s not his national team, but he should be able to evaluate it,” he said. “For a decade now, 70 percent of the children who are Real Madrid fans wear the Iker shirt. He is an idol, a mirror, a hope, a hero.”


Ramadel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina star as stylish Colombia break Polish hearts

Updated 25 June 2018
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Ramadel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina star as stylish Colombia break Polish hearts

  • The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament
  • The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal

KAZAN: Radamel Falcao, Yerry Mina and Juan Cuadrado scored as stylish Colombia boosted their World Cup last 16 hopes with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Poland on Sunday.
In a match destined to see the loser sent home after the group stages, Colombia overcame a nervous start against Adam Nawalka’s men to move up to third place in Group H, one point behind Japan and Senegal.
The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament.
“I’m very sorry and very sad about the result, but tomorrow’s another day and we have to come to terms with things,” said Poland coach Adam Nawalka.
“Our players did their best until the end of the game. We lost to a very strong team and this is something we have to accept.
“I extend my congratulations to Colombia.”
The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal, who drew 2-2 with Japan earlier in the day.
Colombia’s march to the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago came thanks to James Rodriguez’s six-goal tally for Los Cafeteros.
And days after a troublesome calf injury restricted him to a half-hour cameo role as 10-man Colombia stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Japan, the Bayern Munich midfielder was back to his best.
Starting alongside Juan Quintero and Cuadrado on the right, Colombia’s ultra-offensive starting line-up was a forewarning.
After riding a tense start that forced Mina and then Wilmar Barrios to react quickly to thwart early threats from Robert Lewandowski, Colombia eventually got into their stride.
Cuadrado was wasteful on several occasions when finding space deep on the right flank.
The Juventus winger’s trickery would eventually pay dividends, but it was Falcao — who has dreamed all his life of scoring a World Cup goal — who turned on the style, dancing through the Polish defense to win the corner that led to Colombia’s opener.
Rodriguez’s short corner eventually found Quintero, whose smart through ball back to Rodriguez gave him time and space to curl a perfect left-footed cross that Mina rose to header powerfully past Szczesny on 40 minutes.
Colombia resumed in positive fashion, Cuadrado holding up well to set up Falcao for a first-time drive that sailed over Szczesny’s crossbar.
A Colombia counter saw Falcao’s drive from the edge of the area deflected out for a corner.
Nawalka replaced Dawid Kownacki with the more experienced Kamil Grosicki and the switch almost paid dividends.
Only the bravery of goalkeeper David Ospina saved Colombia from conceding what looked like the equalizer when he rushed out to block from Lewandowski after the Bayern Munich striker did well to get a shot away from a long ball from midfield.
Poland threatened again, but when Lewandowski got his head to a cross into the area he was marked by both Mina and Davinson Sanchez.
Colombia, however, were not to be denied.
When right-back Sanitago Arias found Quintero, the midfielder sliced Poland’s defense apart with a low pass that found Falcao on the run before he beat Szczesny down low with the outside of his right boot.
Five minutes later, Rodriguez produced arguably the assist of the night, drawing several Polish players on the left flank before somehow finding Cuadrado on the run with a superb cross-field pass that the pacey winger tucked away.