Jose the bull and Pellegrini the cow

Although Florentino Pérez couldn’t wait to sling Manuel Pellegrini’s hook as soon as he began his tenure at Castle Greyskull - mainly because he failed to either look or sound like Arsene Wenger or Rafa Benitez - the Real Madrid big cheese must have appreciated Pellegrini’s tender approach to dealing with the press, his own players and, most importantly of all, opposition managers.

Whilst José Mourinho is proving himself to be a snarling, sneering bull in a dynamite shop, Pellegrini faced all his media commitments with the docile expression of a cow contemplating the mechanics of an iPad.

Last season, only a newspaper minion with a tape recorder would go along to the Chilean’s chats with journalists - sometimes just the recorder went, come to think of it - because everyone knew that Pellegrini was diplomatic, honourable and generous with his thoughts.

All this added up to the Madrid manager being considered insufferably dull by the Spanish football press and as much use for a good quote as Guti discussing Goethe.

Pellegrini: less of a 'character' than Mourinho...

To be fair, Mourinho was doing reasonably well in managing not to upset anyone in Monday afternoon’s press conference by playing down the following day’s 'Meelan' match-up by shrugging “win or lose, Wednesday will still be the next day.”

But then, in a subsequent interview with Spanish TV channel TVE, the Madrid manager continued a spiky, Serie A-inspired spat with opposition coach Massimiliano Allegri which dates back to the Milan boss’ previous spell as Cagliari manager.

“What rivalry can there be between a double Champion of Europe and a coach playing his third Champions League game?” scoffed Mourinho modestly. If it is possible to scoff modestly, that is.

This is just one tasty morsel of ‘morbo’ surrounding the Champions League clash. Mourinho doesn’t just have ‘previous’ with Allegri but also with the referee, Pedro Proença, who sent the Madrid coach off three times whilst he was knee-high to Xavi and managing in the Portuguese league. And then there’s the figures of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho and Robinho to be thrown into the mix too.

Although the three points are not that vital to either side, the match is a more useful gauge to check on the progression of Mourinho’s Madrid than the recent thrashings of Málaga and Deportivo. Especially Deportivo.

It will be an especially big test for the back four - with Alvaro Arbeloa taking the place of the injured Sergio Ramos - although Paolo Maldini can already see an improvement in a notoriously shaky area for Madrid. However, the former Milan man says that they still have some way to go before reaching the heights of his defending heyday.

“If Tassotti, Baresi, Costacurta and myself went for a coffee today, we’d all go in a line, guarding the space without thinking about it,” said the dreamy defender warning Marca readers never to go to Starbucks at the same time as himself and his buddies.

Real Madrid are going into Tuesday’s clash in top spot in their Champions League group and in la Primera too after Villarreal’s failure to beat Hércules on Monday night in a brilliant 2-2 game where not even the general idiocy of the referee could ruin it. Well. Maybe he did just a little bit.

Realising that the players, crowd and viewers at home were thoroughly enjoying an open, end-to-end encounter, Muñiz Fernández then managed the match like you’d expect anyone sporting half of ton of hair gel and with zero communication skills - appallingly. Hence the man-in-the-middle decided to send off three players and ponce about the pitch flashing his cards like a bit of a t*t.

“The referees are a lot calmer (in England),” noted former West Brom midfielder Borja Valero after the game, one of the trio to see red. “To get sent off there you have to have committed a serious foul or tried to.”

Villarreal proved that they didn’t quite have the bottle to knock Real Madrid off their perch in Spain, on Monday night. Time will tell whether Milan manage it in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Topics