Dear Jose Mourinho,
It’s time to get over yourself. You’re a good coach, but you’re not the most important man in soccer. Lionel Messi is.
It’s time to stop complaining about the officials. Officials have never been responsible for the greatness of a team, a player, or a coach. And nobody has ever missed out on a great career because the calls just never went their way.
After losing to Barcelona 0-2 in the Champions’ League semifinals, you asked why? Why would the referee show Pepe a red card? Why would you be forced to play against Barcelona with 10 men again?
I’m going to let you in on a little universal secret: we create our own reality.
In preparation for Barcelona, you looked your squad up and down and picked out the biggest, strongest, most physical player on your team. The man most adept at breaking up plays, most able to send small footballers flying off the ball, and most likely to intimidate the opposition by any means necessary. You found a man with a history of violence unmatched in modern football: Pepe.
You put two central defenders behind him, and set him right in the center of the pitch. You said ‘Pepe, your task is to dominate the game by any means necessary. You are free to roam the entire field. You are not expected to score, you are not expected to pass. Your job is simple: persecute the little men that make Barcelona tick, and destroy their beautiful football’.
And Pepe performed. He broke up play after play in the middle of the field. He won possession and booted the ball away time after time. You had “cracked the Barcelona code”. And with each Clásico you renewed his assignment, (even when that meant a makeshift defense), and encouraged his aggression.
Last night, as Barcelona looked to work the ball out of the back, Pepe came flying madly at the ball, and caught Dan Alves on the leg. Alves went down in agony, Barcelona players raised their arms in protest, the referee's assistant raised his flag, and Mr. Wolfgang Stark approached.
As with any hard foul in these matches, the scene was chaotic. Players from both sides were screaming at the referee, both benches were emptied, and the crowd was hollering. Desperate to make a decision, Stark chose red.
Was it the right decision? No. But can you blame him? He obviously didn’t see the play closely. All he had to go on was Alves on the ground, an indignant group of players screaming for a red card, and the man obviously responsible: Pepe. A man with a propensity for violence, and an obvious purpose as match bully.
Maybe, Jose, you should take some responsibility for your team’s loss. Maybe you shouldn’t have started three defensive midfielders again. Maybe you should’ve actually tried to score some goals—you know, the things that win matches?
Maybe you should’ve thought less about disrupting Barcelona and more about winning the match. Maybe you should’ve allowed footballers like Kaká, Ronaldo, and Benzema to actually play football.
Maybe, just maybe, you should’ve honored the illustrious history of Real Madrid by going for goal in the Santiago Bernabeu.
Maybe then you would’ve ended the match with eleven men.
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