La Liga Review 2010/11: Madrid's Barça bath & Preciado punches back

NOVEMBERA rampant Real Madrid began November on top of the table with the Capital City media so desperate to praise the club’s Special One that they were gouging each other’s eyes out and scrapping in the streets like a mother-daughter rumble outside a roller-disco.

TV channel Cuatro scampered onto the pitch after a game to get hold of some of José Mourinho's discarded tactical scribblings and sent them to a handwriting expert whose correct name escapes the blog. Charlatan, perhaps.

The aforementioned expert played by the local rules and declared that the Madrid manager was the bestest person in the whole universe, claiming he was “quick thinking”, had “huge leadership abilities”, was “noble” and had a massive winkie to boot.

Not to be left out in the fawning stakes, Marca wrote that “the manager is on top of everything: tactics, fitness, if the pitch is good or bad, if Pedro León or Karim Benzema need more or less affection. He’s right in almost every department.” That wasn’t to be the case a few weeks later when Real Madrid were given a “bath”, as they say locally, by Barcelona in a 5-0 demolition in the Camp Nou.

“A thrashing! Humiliation! Leaders!” squealed the front page of Sport the morning after the night before. Mundo Deportivo responded to Cristiano Ronaldo's rather rubbish taunt after Barcelona’s humiliation of Almería the previous week – “Let’s see if they score eight on Monday” – with Joan Paqui chuckling that “it wasn’t eight, but it nearly was.”

Tomás Roncero, writing in AS, was vowing sweet revenge, having seen Barcelona become league leaders after the victory. “The season is long, in April there’ll be a Clásico in the Bernabeu, you know how it will be then,” promised the crazed columnist. In the end there were two Clásicos in Madrid in April and neither were victories for Mourinho's men, so Roncero was quite right.

"If they do score eight, Cris, I'm gonna slap you"

Before that match, Mourinho had become embroiled in one of his many spats this season by suggesting that Sporting coach Manuel Preciado had fielded a weakened line-up in a 1-0 defeat against Barcelona. The popular Preciado responded by calling his counterpart a “scumbag” and suggested that Mourinho sit out a suspension in a game against his team with the club’s Ultras.

Málaga's ongoing drop-zone problems saw them sack Jesualdo Ferreira and replace the Portuguese with former Madrid manager and Marca hate-figure Manuel Pellegrini. José Aurelio Gay, coach of table-bottoming Zaragoza, knew his bacon was greased when his club president promised that he would be “on the bench next Monday and Tuesday.” Gay was fired days later and replaced by former Atlético Madrid and Mexico coach Javier Aguirre.

Off the field, a feud over the signing of a new TV deal between Real Madrid and Barcelona and a group of rebels lead by Sevilla and Villarrreal broke out, with the latter wanting a fairer slice of the financial pie and refusing to sign a proposal offered up by the Big Boys.

“We have the worst big league in Europe,” complained Sevilla president José Maria Del Nido, while his Villarreal counterpart Fernando Roig told the Spanish media that “we are fighting to make sure it isn’t a league of two, although a lot of you don’t agree.”

La Liga’s comedy club of the campaign, Hércules, continued its merry way with on-loan winger Royston Drenthe getting caught by the fuzz for blasting through the streets of Alicante in his car at 4am, jumping six red lights in the process. The Real Madrid man told the cops that he was rushing off to the hospital as he thought his passenger who was dying, as opposed to being completely paralytic which was apparently the case.

Don Balón magazine's annual award for prettiest Primera player was handed out in November with lovely Athletic Bilbao central defender Aitor Ocio receiving the prize – and an awful lot of teasing from his teammates, no doubt.

OCTOBER No Plan B for Barça & Mourinho's blacklistSEPTEMBER Jose bores Bernabeu & Barça's expensive pastAUGUST Pep & Zlatan fall out as Madrid move for Özil

PLUS La Liga Loca's review of every team's season