How do you solve a problem like Mourinho?

Those football fans in Spain unable to stay up to the ludicrous time of one in the morning last Wednesday to see Spain’s Supercopa second leg clash, but who wanted to catch up with all the net-busting action on the state broadcaster’s 24-hours news channel RTVE, would have seen some shocking sights from the Camp Nou over their ham and cornflakes the next day.

There was poor José Mourinho in slow-mo action being smacked around the side of the head by nasty old Barcelona assistant coach, Tito ‘Pito’ Vilanova, in a scandalously unprovoked attack. Fortunately, the Special One was true to his gentlemanly nature and refused to respond to the cowardly Catalan attack by retreating to his corner with a smile.

Of course, that was all bunkum, with Mourinho being the real trouble-maker, kicking things off with a cheeky pinch to Vilanova. But some RTVE viewers wouldn’t have known that, after a bit of creative editing which completely changed the story in Madrid’s favour and forced Barcelona to draft a stern letter of complaint in response.

Despite state television doing their best to portray Mourinho as the victim of the whole affair, that argument - like Sergio Busquets after a gust of wind - was never going to get off the ground any time soon. So, with football absent from the weekend’s sports agenda, the repercussions of the Camp Nou chaos have rumbled on in the papers’ opinion pages instead. 

The condemnation from the Barcelona press has been predictably forceful, with Sport’s Luís Mascaró fuming that “Madrid and their media cavern [...] have used manipulation to try and defend the indefensible.”  Even the Catalan arm of the channel in question called out their brothers in the Spanish capital for what they saw as 'manipulation'.

Mourinho’s behaviour in yet another defeat to Barcelona was so appalling that even Marca didn't bother trying to support the Madrid man after the event. “Mourinho knows what the coach of Madrid represents and this is not part of the roll,” wrote Santiago Segurola in Saturday’s edition, “he behaved like a little boy, incapable of accepting defeat.” The paper’s leading writer put some of the blame on Florentino Pérez for failing to control his coach and noted that “recent times have given the impression of a president who has given up considerable power.”

Marca even tried being Mourinho’s apologist by running a story claiming the Madrid manager had split into personalities, Superman II style, to argue that “José Mourinho is not happy with José Mourinho.” Which version climbs out of the car crusher at the end of their final duel will be interesting to see.

AS at least tried to chuck some muck in Barcelona by moaning that a Leo Messi ‘talking’ hand gesture towards the Madrid bench after his winner was ‘disrespectful’, but in the end in was a half-hearted effort.

The most remarkable aspect of a remarkable event is that Mourinho looks like escaping without punishment from an action that would see some kind of legal ramifications were you to perform it on someone in the office canteen or a fellow consumer in the queue at Starbucks.

This is mainly because Barcelona have decided not to take the matter any further, with club president Sandro Rosell claiming Tito Vilanova wanted to forget the whole thing and that the club wanted to “end this atmosphere of antagonism.” LLL wonders if Real Madrid would have taken the same path had Pep Guardiola sauntered over from his bench to kick Aitor Karanka in the nuts...

Mourinho’s actions will no doubt fade from memory, but the Madrid manager has already set the tone for the season - either accidentally or deliberately. The nastiness levels between Barcelona and Real Madrid have already been cranked up another notch from last year.

Not only is that likely to lead to a fairly poisonous ten months in the media, but it could also further damage the spirit in the Spain camp, with Málaga’s Santi Cazorla warning that currently “the situation is at the limit.” When Gerard Pique warned that Mourinho was “destroying Spanish football” after last week's clash, the Barça stopper wasn’t just talking about la Liga, but it would appear the national team too.

The only person capable of reigning José Mourinho in is Florentino Pérez. However, the Madrid president has put himself in the position of ceding all power to his manager having fired Jorge Valdano, Madrid’s former Director General, over the summer, leaving him in the uncomfortable situation of having to turn a blind eye to Mourinho ’s antics until the end of the season, while praying to the powers that be that his side win either the Champions League or la Liga in order to excuse the behaviour of his out-of-control coach.

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