No one doubts Jose Mourinho's ability to win titles. He has done so at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan. But the new Real Madrid coach's detractors say he knows everything about winning but nothing about winning the right way: with flair, attacking enterprise and style. That is, the Real way.
In fact, Jorge Valdano, Real Madrid's director general, once compared watching Mourinho's Chelsea play Liverpool in a Champions League semifinal to gazing at "s*** on a stick." But Valdano now says, "every style is valid in the search for success there are a thousand different ways to play football and each may be perfect at different times."
Ian Chadband of the telegraph writes about Mourinho's influence on the new Real Madrid.
But even Madrid must now look on with a hint of trepidation to discover the consequences of giving away the keys of their kingdom to a man who, according to his detractors, knows everything about winning but nothing about winning the right way, the Real way; that is, with flair, attacking enterprise and style to match personal good grace.
"I will respect the cultural aspect at Madrid. I have an obsession to play attacking and attractive football at Madrid," Mourinho went out of his way to reassure everyone here this week. Then his side went out against Penarol and gave the same impression that Mourinho sides invariably do: that they're going to be tremendously organised, hellish difficult to beat but won't win any beauty contests.
What's new? The revolution is as ever based on graft, not glitz, and follows the usual conundrum: how can a man whose gigantic personal ego and showmanship dominates his club build collectivism and selflessness so skilfully? So far, the only surprise has been the extent to which Mourinho has eschewed any noisiness and bluster and plumped only for quiet business.
At Valdebebas, Real's vast 10-pitch training complex which is Mourinho's mission HQ, you hear the suggestion, told with just a hint of awe here, that no one has yet beaten him to be the first into work in the morning at 7am and that no one is left when he leaves 12 hours later.
He has attended religiously to every detail of team management and administration, even when on a brief family holiday in Kenya. Good grief, he even has to check that the water pressure sprinkler system is working to his exact specifications. Nothing is signed off without his say so; no coach has ever had greater control over transfer activity.
As for team training sessions, each one lasting exactly 90 minutes, they are described breathlessly by Cristiano Ronaldo here as "spectacular and incomparable".
According to Brazilian defender Marcelo "he's changed the spirit, every game is a war as we compete for a place." Ronaldo may be the galactico's galactico but he seems to have bought into the one-for-all mentality. "You can ask me to do anything," he claims to have told Mourinho. "I will obey your orders completely." Gulp.
Old treats have disappeared. The VIP area, where fans met players, is history. Players cannot nip home for lunch between training sessions; rest areas, complete with sofa beds, have been set up instead. Team bonding, from breakfast to home time, is everything. There are no princes any more – no Raul, no Guti – and just one king.
Yet King Jose does not get too high-handed unless he has to. If the making of Joe Cole and Mario Balotelli were pet projects at Chelsea and Inter, now he's working on Karim Benzema, scolding the underachieving young French superstar during one session: "If it was up to you, we'd all start working at noon! Wake up, it's 11am and you're asleep during training!"