Jose Mourinho likes to say his second season in charge is always better than his first. But he rarely mentions the third season, because the ‘Special One’ has never finished a third year in charge of a club.
The closest Mourinho came was at Chelsea, which ended when John Terry told Roman Abramovich it was time to cut the ‘Special One’ loose.
So this season will be a new challenge for the two-time European champion.
It hasn’t started well. For Real Madrid and Barcelona, league defeats may as well be considered losses. An actual loss as akin to a catastrophe.
A draw and a loss in Madrid’s opening two matches of the league season had the Catalan media suggesting a Bernabeu crisis was imminent.
Barcelona daily Sport stuck the boot in after the loss with Getafe with a front page picture of Luke Modric and the headline: '42 million to hide your shame'.
Considering how much stronger the two Spanish giants are than their La Liga opponents, five points is a significant buffer for Barca, but far from a decisive one.
The bigger issue for Mourinho is the dressing room.
Last season when Madrid was going through a very rare bad patch, certain conversations were leaked to the press.
The reports suggested the Merengues boss was furious with centre-back Sergio Ramos for ‘criticising’ his tactics in the Copa del Rey semi-final against Barcelona.
Mourinho reportedly confronted Ramos at training telling the defender that “he killed him” in the mixed zone.
The Portuguese coach also blamed Ramos for allowing Carles Puyol to score from a corner. Ramos fired back: “they were blocking but you wouldn’t understand because you never played”.
It was soon after that reports began to surface of Mourinho moving away from the Berneabeu in the European summer.
Some Spanish pundits suggested that Iker Casillas and Ramos weren’t happy with their coach’s tactics and that he was favouring the Portuguese speakers over the Spanish ones.
In the end the issue was put to bed on Mourinho’s birthday when Casillas and Ramos presented him with a cake in front of the assembled cameras.
Casillas and Ramos put their concerns to the side as Madrid pushed for the title.
As many professional footballers will confirm, when the team is winning the dressing room becomes a tranquil place.
But the festering issues that bubbled to the surface for a short time last campaign have the potential to explode if Madrid don’t start performing on the pitch this season.
After the Getafe loss Mourinho appeared to be more upset with his players' attitude than the result. For once he dismissed a refereeing mistake, instead moaning about conceding another from a set piece.
To his credit, the Madrid boss shouldered some of the blame when he spoke to the players at training.
Casillas also admitted the side hadn’t been as focussed as it should have and had perhaps “taken it too easy” in pre-season.
There was some evidence the side had turned the corner with a far more aggressive and focussed performance in the Supercopa victory over Barcelona.
But motivating a Madrid side to play its arch-rival should never be an issue.
The true test will be in the coming weeks when Madrid travels to Sevilla and Rayo Vallecano.
More dropped points there could jeopardise Mourinho’s bid to finish a third season for the first time in his career.
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