A sideways look at Spanish football
It all began sometime last season, if not before - ten months in la Liga is about five years for everyone else. A reportedly heated training ground gripe involving Sergio Ramos and José Mourinho was said to have featured the Portuguese coach moaning at the defender for failing to give him his full backing after a Copa del Rey defeat to Barcelona and for ignoring his instructions with regards to defending set-pieces.
"Sometimes it’s necessary to change the marking,” were the words Marca claim Ramos uttered in reply his unhappy boss. “And as you have never been a player, you wouldn’t know this is sometimes necessary.”
Underlying these grumbles, goes the narrative, is the Spaniard's resentment of Mourinho’s constant cat-fights and the fact his tendency to play negative, feisty football when the going gets tough is making life a big pain in the bum for the players. Mourinho apparently feels Ramos being a Spaniard and a bit of a hunky hero means the World Cup winner getting far too easy a ride from the press, when the coach is too often cast as the villain.
The feud continued with Ramos being dropped for the Champions League clash against Manchester City - 'nothing to see here', claimed Mourinho, fooling no-one. Like an endless tennis rally of back-biting, Ramos told the media after the Deportivo game, in which the defender was restored to the starting line-up, that any problems in the camp should stay behind closed doors. Wham!
Mourinho’s responded with a forehand smash that sent Ramos scrambling across court, declaring that his defender was one of the best in the world...when on good form. Woop!
Tensions appear to have ramped up even further during Sunday’s 5-1 win against Deportivo. During the game, Mesut Özil was reportedly getting a bit of ticking off from Mourinho during the first half and throughout the break, which resulted in the German being swapped with the previously outcast Kaká. After the game, Ramos gave a bit of a poke by saying that “I’ll die for my ideas and principles, why do I have to stay quiet?”
But then it seems that someone at Marca on Monday spotted something usual - Ramos was wearing two shirts during the second half of Sunday’s game and not because it was a bit chilly in the Santiago Bernabeu. Instead, the shirt being worn under his No.4 was the very same No.10 shirt the German no longer needed. Game, set and match!
“Ramos defies Mou!” yells Tuesday’s Marca in what appears to be quite a scoop, with the paper giddy at this apparent metaphorical glove slap to Mourinho’s face. However, the fall-out between the pair has been picked up everyone else, with Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo claiming a €50m move to Chelsea could well be on the cards for the fed-up footballer.
Ramos reacted later on Tuesday morning with a series of tweets against such “lies”. “Mesut is a great friend and for some time I’ve said that my first goal of the season would be dedicated to him and I took the opportunity of his substitution to wear his shirt, confident that it could be my first goal. Nothing more than that. My relationship with Mourinho is good, honest and clear. I respect his decisions and for me he’s the best coach.”
This story will either go two ways. Mourinho will give a terse response either before or after the Champions League clash with Ajax on Wednesday and the situation will go nuclear and end in Ramos’s exile from the squad and subsequent departure to any club with pockets deep enough to pay for him. Or, everyone will have lost interest in the story within seconds what with the Clásico coming up.
LLL bets on the latter. But in the soap opera world of la Liga, you just never, ever know.
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