32 wins out of a possible 38. 16 away wins. 121 goals. A goal difference of 89. A La Liga title. One would believe that this is, by any standards, a brilliant season. When one does believe that, one does not, of course, equate the team in question being a certain Real Madrid.
The season that was
A near flawless season, Jose’s second in charge, yielded the much coveted La Liga and ended a barren spell that Real had had thanks to the Pep revolution at the Camp Nou. This season, however, promises to be all that and more.
Transfers so far
What has been most striking during the off-season is the lack of transfer activity at the Bernabeau. Real Madrid have been known, in the past, to bring in players even when they are of scarce need. The coming of Mourinho, it seems, has signalled an era of change. The squad seemed stable, the intrusion of the board into activities relating to the transfer market seems to be reduced and Mourinho seems to be backed to the hilt.
With absolutely no arrivals, Real have let go of Drenthe, Altintop, Gago and Canales, with David Mateos being demoted to the reserves, Real Madrid’s net spend this transfer has been a most healthy -15 million Euro. With the Modric saga looking like it will drag on for a while longer yet, Real don’t seem to be interested in any other signing and one could argue that they do not really need any more reinforcements.
What to expect
With one of the two objectives that he set out to achieve completed, Jose will now turn his attention to the biggest one of ‘em all – the one trophy that has the crest of Real Madrid stamped on it 9 times in the past – the Champions League.
With the added focus on the Champions League, it will be interesting to see how Mourinho rotates his relatively small squad of 22. The problem with being Real Madrid manager is that nothing is ever good enough, is it? Mourinho has won the two domestic competitions in his first two years in charge. However, to most fans all that is past history. Only next season matters.
With a total of 146 goals from 144 games spanning three seasons, Cristiano Ronaldo will again be central to everything Real do. Another stellar season is expected with his battle with Messi pushing each other to unprecedented heights and leaving the audience stunned and in awe.
The Real Madrid squad seems to be a settled one and Mourinho seems to have all the parts of the puzzle in place. With the ever-present Iker Casillas in goal and a solid looking back line, Real look to have it under control.
The midfield oozes with talent, both defensive and offensive. There has been widespread talk of yesteryear’s World Player of the Year, Kaka’s departure to his former club, AC Milan but one feels that until a replacement comes in first, Mourinho will think carefully before he lets go of the classy Brazilian.
Will Mourinho deliver on the promise of the Champions League? In addition to the ever-present threat of Barcelona, the likes of a rejuvenated and heavily-invested in Chelsea and the usual suspects from England and Italy and the added spice of PSG, Mourinho most definitely has his work cut out. But if there is anyone who can do it, the special one can.
La Liga – Runner up
Champions League – Winner
Top scorer – Cristiano Ronaldo