La Liga Review 2010/11: Forlan causes a stink as Jose makes another enemy
March began with Diego ForlÃÂ¡nÃ¢ÂÂs sulks and snippy comments to the press that he wasnÃ¢ÂÂt exactly opposed to the concept of leaving AtlÃÂ©tico supposedly leaving his teammates a tad miffed.
El PaÃÂs claimed the squad had adopted a new policy on the pitch called Ã¢ÂÂnot one ball to Blondie!Ã¢ÂÂ - a strategy Quique SÃÂ¡nchez Flores wearily denied, complaining that he was Ã¢ÂÂtired of these situationsÃ¢ÂÂ. Later in the month, the AtlÃÂ©tico boss dropped the first hint he would be packing away his eyeliner and leaving the club at the end of season when noting that the Rojiblancos were Ã¢ÂÂlike a plane in constant turbulence.Ã¢ÂÂ
However, the one placid part of AtlÃÂ©ticoÃ¢ÂÂs existence last season was the teamÃ¢ÂÂs performances in their derbies against Real Madrid, with the CalderÃÂ³n club continuing their splendidly lousy tradition in Madrid-based match-ups with a fourth defeat from four in the year to leave the forces of Mordor unbeaten against AtlÃÂ©tico in 21 straight matches.
Although Madrid did the usual deed when facing AtlÃÂ©tico, they managed to break with tradition by easing past Lyon to make it through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in seven years. This did not appear to change JosÃÂ© MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs mood one bit though, with the Special One picking a fight with MÃÂ¡laga manager Manuel Pellegrini, his predecessor at Real Madrid, by Ã¢ÂÂbeing honestÃ¢ÂÂ in a press conference ahead of a league game and commenting that Ã¢ÂÂif Madrid sack me then IÃ¢ÂÂm not going to MÃÂ¡laga, IÃ¢ÂÂm going to a big club in Italy or England.Ã¢ÂÂ
Not content with that fine piece of diplomacy, Mourinho ended up getting into a slanging match with a plucky journalist, with both calling each other a hypocrite during a debate over whether MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs endless moans were legitimate complaints or mere excuses.
Barcelona were also in decent form and ended March with a five point lead over Real Madrid, although AS were stretching the point a tad when describing it as a Ã¢ÂÂperfectÃ¢ÂÂ month given the two points dropped against Sporting.
The off-the-pitch nastiness between the two big guns was cranked up a notch when radio station COPE claimed an unnamed Real Madrid official had complained that anti-doping controls in Spain were not strong enough and that Barcelona were benefiting from this. COPE quickly withdrew the story and BarÃÂ§a began legal action, with Gerard PiquÃÂ© warning that Ã¢ÂÂanyone who accuses us of doping is playing with fire.Ã¢ÂÂ
The Catalan press were even more outraged than normal, and did not hold back when it came to pointing the finger at who they thought was behind the story. Ã¢ÂÂThis dirty war begun by Mourinho and supported by Florentino is intolerable,Ã¢ÂÂ stormed Josep MarÃÂa Casanovas in Sport.
HÃÂ©rcules found themselves at the bottom of the table, and deservedly so. The club decided to react to this news by sacking coach, Esteban Vigo, who had problems being paid along with the rest of the squad and did not have a permanent training centre for his side. But despite this, Vigo was made the scapegoat with Miroslav Djukic taking over with no change in the Alicante clubÃ¢ÂÂs fortunes whatsoever.
Meanwhile, reports filtered through from Australia concerning RacingÃ¢ÂÂs owner, Ali Syed, and accusations of fraud in the region - accusations denied by the Indian-born businessman. However, it was almost impossible to get a straight answer from Syed, as sightings became an increasingly rare in Santander, leaving with club president Francisco PernÃÂa to cover for his boss, churning out a string of excuses for his absence - from him enjoying a family birthday party at Euro Disney, to being grounded thanks to air traffic control problems.
The season's second strike threat fizzled out to nothing in rather typical fashion. This time the hubbub concerned Primera matches televised by free-to-air broadcasters and the league's desire for them to be shifted behind the fancy velvet curtain of pay-per-view televison - a wish at odds with a law ensuring at least one match a week would be broadcast for free. Fortunately common sense prevailed and the we were spared the shifting of the end of the league calendar to mid-June.