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Mourinho to still be judged on Europe success

The 49-year-old has won domestic league titles in his native Portugal, England, Italy and now Spain, becoming the first coach to achieve the feat, and led Porto and Inter Milan to Champions League triumphs in 2004 and 2010 respectively.

Real president Florentino Perez lured the self-styled 'Special One' to Spain from Inter Milan and has granted him unprecedented powers as the construction magnate and lifelong Real fan chases the elusive 'decima', or 10th continental crown.

In his second term at the helm of the world's richest club by revenue, Perez has splurged hundreds of millions of euros of Real's money on Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and others in a bid to end Barcelona's hegemony at home and abroad.

The job is only half done.

Real have fallen at the semi-final hurdle in their two Champions League campaigns under Mourinho, the first time to bitter rivals Barca and the second when they lost a penalty shootout to Bayern Munich at their Bernabeu stadium last week.

The only other silverware Mourinho has to show for his two seasons in the Spanish capital is the King's Cup, won last year when Ronaldo netted an extra-time winner against Barca, and some Madrid fans have yet to be convinced that he is the real deal.

Former England manager Fabio Capello won two La Liga titles in two stints at the Bernabeu and was sacked each time.

"It is nothing out of the ordinary for Madrid to win a King's Cup, a league and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League in consecutive years," a columnist in Real-cheerleading sports daily AS wrote on Monday.

"This is alright for a Madrid 'between the wars'. Of Mourinho I expected, and expect, more and I reckon those who whistled yesterday think the same," he added, referring to jeers heard around the Bernabeu when a small section of hard-core fans chanted the manager's name during Sunday's win against Sevilla.


Even if Mourinho has yet to deliver the European prize Perez and Real fans really hanker after, his achievement in leading the squad to the La Liga title at the expense of Barca should be given the credit it deserves.

He engineered the consistency required to get the better of one of the greatest teams in history with a campaign built around the awesome firepower of their front line.

Led by Ronaldo, Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain, Real have smashed the league scoring record of 107 set by John Toshacks's Madrid side in the 1989/90 season, hitting 115 goals in 36 matches with two still to play.

"That team spent five years playing together and this one has been together a shorter time so it deserves more merit," Emilio Butragueno, a striker in Toshack's team and now a Real director, told sports daily Marca recently.

"This Madrid side is devastating and they have a number of players within the team who can score goals."

Ronaldo and his great rival for the World Player of the Year title, Barca's Lionel Messi, have again conducted a personal duel to