Mourinho looms large as Real ditch Pellegrini
Madrid: Jose Mourinho was poised to become Real Madrid coach on Wednesday after the Spanish giants sacked Manuel Pellegrini.
Following weeks of frantic media speculation, the La Liga giants ditched Chilean Pellegrini in favour of the flamboyant Mourinho, who led Inter Milan to the Champions League title and Italian league and cup double last season.
Real president Florentino Perez told a news conference in the bowels of the Bernabeu stadium, scene of Inter`s Champions League triumph last weekend, that the 47-year-old Portuguese would join Real once his contract termination had been agreed.
"I am ready to admit to some mistakes but the hiring of Mourinho, one of the world`s best coaches, is an opportunity that this Real Madrid, who always fight for excellence, could not afford to miss," Perez said.
"We are absolutely convinced that we need a fresh impulse and that a coach like Mourinho can be the person to take charge of the squad for the next few years."
"Madrid bets on stability but stability for the fans is winning and being leaders. Stability is not about keeping on a coach."
Perez said he hoped to complete the deal for Mourinho soon, adding that he had not yet spoken to the former Porto and Chelsea coach about potential additions to the squad.
Mourinho, the self-styled "Special One", made no secret of his desire to take over at Real after becoming only the third coach to win the European Cup with two different teams having triumphed with Porto in 2004.
"Few have the privilege of winning it," he said after Inter beat Bayern Munich 2-0 to seal their first European Cup in 45 years.
"I can win a third, a fourth, a fifth time but I don`t think the feelings will be different," he said.
Mourinho built Inter into a compact team with a rock-solid defence and a deadly counter-attack but was criticised for playing too defensively, a tactic that will not go down well at Real where the emphasis is on flair and entertainment.
He will work under the demanding management trio of Perez, director general Jorge Valdano and sporting director Miguel Pardeza but made it clear this week that he would be the one calling the shots.
"The president is not the one who wins, he`s not the one who plays and nor does he decide who is in the team and who is on the bench," Mourinho told a sports daily.
Pellegrini left Villarreal to join Real last June, becoming the cornerstone of Perez`s big-money bid to bring trophies back to the Bernabeu.
The construction magnate invested a quarter of a billion euros ($307 million) in players, including a record 94 million on Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo, and vowed to build a "spectacular sporting project" to put the club back at the forefront of European and world football.
Pellegrini was charged with rebuilding the nine-times European champions and making them into a team capable of challenging Barcelona while entertaining a hugely demanding and impatient fan base.
But they were dumped out of the Champions League by Olympique Lyon at the last-16 stage, humiliated by third-tier Alorcon in the King`s Cup and ended the season three points behind La Liga champions Barca.
Pellegrini endured a sustained campaign in the Madrid-based sports press to unseat him, always maintaining the educated calm and courtesy that earned him the nickname "The Engineer".
"We thought it through a lot and it`s not just the fact that we didn`t win any titles," Perez said.
"We believe that it`s the right moment to give a fresh boost and bet on one of the best coaches in the world."