Real-ity check for Jose

Madrid pres­i­dent backs Mour­inho as the pres­sure mounts

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

Eto’o not sus­pended (yet), say au­thor­i­ties A DIS­CI­PLINARY hear­ing de­ci­sion about Samuel Eto’o will be an­nounced soon, Cameroon soc­cer au­thor­i­ties said, adding that me­dia re­ports that the striker had been sus­pended for seven games were “spec­u­la­tion”. JOSE MOUR­INHO can re­turn the faith shown in him by club pres­i­dent Florentino Perez by tak­ing Real Madrid back to the top of La Liga for the win­ter break with a vic­tory at Sevilla to­day.

Last week­end’s 3-1 ‘Cla­sico’ de­feat at home to Barcelona came as a psy­cho­log­i­cal jolt to the world’s rich­est club by rev­enue, who thought they had fi­nally reached a point where they could land a blow on their arch-ri­vals.

Mour­inho was brought in by Perez, a pres­i­dent not known for his pa­tience with coaches, to end Barça’s dom­i­nance of Span­ish foot­ball a year and a half ago, but the Por­tuguese has only man­aged one vic­tory over Barça in eight at­tempts.

Speak­ing at a Christ­mas lunch with the me­dia on Wed­nes­day, how­ever, Perez was un­equiv­o­cal in his sup­port for the former In­ter Mi­lan and Chelsea boss.

“Sign­ing Mour­inho is one of the best de­ci­sions I have made,” the con­struc­tion mag­nate said.

“Aside from all his qual­i­ties, he has proven that he never gives up how­ever great the chal­lenge fac­ing him. The ‘Cla­sico’ de­feat hurts, but it will make us stronger.”

Madrid are level on 37 points with Barça at the top of the stand­ings, sec­ond on goal dif­fer­ence, but play their game in hand at the Sanchez Pizjuan to­day, while the cham­pi­ons com­pete at the Club World Cup in Ja­pan.

Sevilla lie 13 points be­hind them in fifth place and boast one of La Liga’s tight­est de­fences. They held Barça to a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp in Oc­to­ber, but are in­con­sis­tent and short on fire­power.

While Mour­inho re­ceived the full sup­port of his pres­i­dent, the vul­tures are cir­cling over a num­ber of other coaches.

Vil­lar­real’s Juan Car­los Gar­rido, Atletico Madrid’s Gre­go­rio Man­zano and Real Zaragoza’s Javier Aguirre are all in need of morale-boost­ing wins.

Vil­lar­real, who visit Osasuna to­mor­row, came bot­tom of their Cham­pi­ons League group to exit Europe early last week.

The pres­sure grew on Gar­rido when they could only draw against third-tier op­po­si­tion in the King’s Cup on Tues­day and are only kept out of the rel­e­ga­tion places by goal dif­fer­ence.

Former Mex­ico boss Aguirre takes bot­tom club Zaragoza to Ath­letic Bil­bao to­day hav­ing suf­fered seven de­feats in the last eight league games.

Atletico Madrid’s er­ratic form un­der Man­zano and a 4-2 de­feat away at Es­panyol last week­end have led to spec­u­la­tion over his fu­ture.

The luke­warm back­ing given to him by sports di­rec­tor Jose Luis Caminero dur­ing the week only fanned the flames.

Me­dia re­ports of a per­son­al­ity clash be­tween Man­zano and one of the team’s most tal­ented play­ers, Jose An­to­nio Reyes, have not helped a side ly­ing 10th, 10 points adrift of their endof-sea­son ob­jec­tive, the top four.

“I want to com­plete this project ... if they let me,” Man­zano fired out in a tense news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day.

Atletico will host Real Betis to­mor­row. – Reuters

GALLO IM­AGES

UN­DER FIRE: Real Madrid man­ager Jose Mour­inho knows that de­spite the as­sur­ances of his club pres­i­dent, the vul­tures are cir­cling af­ter pro­duc­ing just one win against bit­ter ri­vals Barcelona in eight at­tempts.

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