La Liga Review 2010/11: Mourinho’s new moans & Iniesta the alien

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Another month in la Liga began with Spain more than a little freaked out by the memory of a chastened, crestfallen José Mourinho admitting that the better side won a game of football, without a single excuse or rant being deployed in the process. That was Mourinho’s response from Real Madrid's Camp Nou thrashing by Barcelona at the end of November, and was downright disturbing.

However, the Special One bounced back quickly enough and rediscovered his moaning mojo with a breathtaking array of grumbles. With Gonzalo Higuaín out of action with a back injury, the first complaint was aimed at Karim Benzema and his general uselessness. “If you go hunting and you only have a cat then you have to go out with a cat,” mused the Madrid manager. “If you have a hunting dog then it’s better.”

Mourinho was also targeting beastly opposition teams and how his own delicate players weren’t getting enough protection – a theme for the whole campaign. “It’s very easy to show cards to Real Madrid players, not so easy for others,” whined the Portuguese.

He was talking complete nonsense. The end-of-season figures showed that referees found it very easy indeed to give opposition players yellow cards, with 116 handed out to those who played Madrid – the third highest total in la Primera – and just 98 being given to Madrid players. The Santiago Bernabeu club were also given the most number of penalties with 12.

Towards the end of the month José decided to move up a gear by attacking his own bosses in Madrid and leaving for the winter break with suspicions that he would not be coming back. After a narrow – and truly awful – win over Sevilla, Mourinho marched into the post-match press conference waving a piece of paper that he said had been handed him by a club official, detailing 13 mistakes made by the referee.

Mourinho refused to read it but noted that if people at the club “want to hide behind the coach, then that’s fine,” whilst publicly calling for a meeting with Florentino Pérez. The taunt of “cry-baby” from Valencia boss Unai Emery was the best of the assorted responses to Mourinho’s moans, with the cackling Catalan press convinced he was cracking up.

Barcelona lost a key aspect of their current stupendous success – their overwhelming sense of moral superiority – by signing a five-year sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation for a reported €165m. Club president Sandro Rosell, a former Nike executive with a big love of branding, said that the partnership was completely compatible with the existing UNICEF agreement and claimed that “we needed to do it to pay the salaries.”

The response to the deal was less than enthusiastic amongst the culé collective, as it sees the UNICEF logo being moved to the back of the shirt in the season to come. “Barça is no longer more than just a club,” wrote Johan Cruyff, someone not exactly close to Rosell.

Atlético Madrid’s campaign continued to turn pear-shaped, with double defeat to Greek giants Aris Salonika contributing to the shortest of spells in the Europa League, the competition they were supposed to be defending.

The Rojiblancos then lost the occasionally excellent Simao, who was out of contract in the summer, and replaced the winger with Osasuna’s Juanfran, who is never excellent. Or even vaguely good, come to think of it.

Over at Hércules, the club’s inability to pay its players began to take its toll with Royston Drenthe refusing to train and then declining the chance to come back from the winter break, complaining that the only pay cheque the on-loan Real Madrid winger had received was August’s.

In something that LLL believes may classify as ironic, Valencia sponsors “The Valencia Experience” fully lived up to the name and neatly summed up the Mestalla mob’s last couple of years by owing the club a reported sum of €6m.

Racing Santander coach Miguel Angel Portugal gave a strong indication that his days in Cantabria would be coming to an end, insulting his team after a defeat by claiming some of them were “overrated”.

And Andrés Iniesta, one of the most gifted midfielders of his generation, scorer of his country’s World Cup winning goal, showed that he really was a hybrid between Mr Spock, Sheldon from Big Bang Theory and a Miss World winner by admitting that “I’m happier to be a role model for kids than winning sporting prizes.” Donations to pay for a drink-, drug- and hooker-stuffed trip to Vegas for the Barça man started flooding in soon after. 

NOVEMBER Madrid's Barça bath & Preciado punches back
OCTOBER No Plan B for Barça & Mourinho's blacklist
SEPTEMBER Jose bores Bernabeu & Barça's expensive past
AUGUST Pep & Zlatan fall out as Madrid move for Özil

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