"Without emotional control you cannot play, influence. You have to be cool."
That quote can be found on page 143 of Adam Wells's book, Football & Chess: Tactics; Strategy; Beauty, and is attributed to a gentleman named Jose Mourinho. It's one of those strange quirks of cosmic fate that I happened to read those very words this morning on the Metro while attempting to digest what happened in the 2nd half of the match at the Madrigal yesterday evening.
Look, most (if not all) of us can agree that the officiating in the Villarreal match veered from psychotic to psychedelic to pathetic and back again. But let's set that aside for a moment and talk about emotional control; particularly, the lack thereof exhibited by the team we all love and support. From Mourinho on down los blancos showed a startling lack of discipline and emotional control yesterday, which led me to wonder just where this team stands psychologically. Just a week or so ago I was writing in praise of Mourinho's psychology in the wake of the tie against CSKA and before that I was writing in praise of what appeared to be a level of Championship swagger demonstrated by Madrid when they had managed to grind out lackluster (but important) results against Rayo and Real Betis.
Is it possible that Mourinho and his men are buckling a little under the pressure? I know no matter their pedigree these men are human and not immune to pressure, but blinking in the glare of the bright lights is something less decorated sides like Manchester City have to contend with in the nervy, title race pressure cooker--not Real Madrid. I agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment in (Managing Madrid's EIC) Gabe's post before the match yesterday where he was basically having some fun with the idea (sprinkled liberally with choice Apocalypse Now references) that some in our community felt like the sky was falling after the draw with Malaga. Now I'm not so sure.
For someone as brilliant as Mourinho who preaches emotional control and discipline (not to mention a squad brimming with internationals) to unravel in the manner we saw yesterday is cause for at least a little concern, especially in one of the most crucial points of the entire season. After the Malaga match everyone from Lass to Cristiano said that they weren't concerned about the result and there was nothing to worry about going forward. Then yesterday happened. Again, I know there were extenuating circumstances with the match officials, but I feel the Mourinho out-thought himself with his defensive minded team selection and then the overall discipline on the pitch broke down completely after a certain point in the second-half, resulting in an equaliser that was chilling in its resemblance to the one we saw on Sunday.
I think Sergio Ramos is an amazing defender but his continuous lack of emotional control nearly negates all of the positive contributions he makes to the side. He's experienced enough to know when a referee is calling an extremely tight match, yet he still came in on a reckless challenge with a yellow card like clockwork. The lack of composure was stunning.
I still think this is a Championship caliber side and that this is most likely just a bump in the road during a long, grueling season, but I'm a little more concerned than I was Sunday evening. I expect nothing less than a vulgar display of power against La Real at the Bernabeu this Saturday.
What do you think? Was the game just a perfect storm of bad officiating, desperate relegation threatened sides and a crowded fixture list? Or is there reason for genuine concern?
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