By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Editor
It was the news nobody expected. Jose Mourinho had already announced his intention to remain at Real Madrid for another season, but beyond that the future of the Portuguese coach at the capital club had appeared uncertain. It isn't now.
Madrid announced on their website on Tuesday that Mourinho had extended his agreement with the Spanish side to 2016, adding two years onto his current contract, which is set to run until 2014. It was quite a statement of intent.
The Portuguese was jeered in the club's next home match, against Athletic Bilbao, and reports began to surface that he had had enough. A summer switch to the Premier League was nearing; the dream dying. Or so it was claimed.
But Mourinho is made of stronger stuff and something changed as the 49-year-old dug deep to find strength in a moment of real adversity. Despite reports of dressing-room unrest and criticism from the press, Madrid's players stuck together, grew together, and won together.
In fact, they barely looked back. An impressive run of results in La Liga meant Madrid moved 10 points clear of Barca in the Primera Division, and although three draws in quick succession saw that lead later whittled down to four, a thrilling triumph in the Camp Nou Clasico followed to all but seal a first title since 2007-08. Mourinho, having returned the Copa del Rey to the capital club for the first time in 18 years with victory over Barca in his debut campaign, had gone one step further in his second season.
But now, as Pep Guardiola leaves Camp Nou and the 49-year-old commits himself to an unprecedented six-year stay, the much-mooted change of cycle in La Liga really could become a reality. And if he does stay until 2016, the Portuguese will become Madrid's longest-serving coach since club legend Miguel Munoz (1960-74).
Long lauded for his incredible results and impressive collection of silverware in Portugal, England, Italy and now Spain, Mourinho has been accused of short-term gain in favour of long-lasting success, squeezing the very best from his squads over two or three seasons before departing for pastures new.
Not this time, though. Unlike at his previous clubs, Mourinho now has the opportunity to build a dynasty at Madrid. He has said in the past that, had he never coached Real, something would be missing from his career. "They are the biggest club in the world," he explained. This, then, is his biggest project yet - and he's only just getting started.
|Mourinho's Win Percentages
Retaining La Liga will be a priority as Barca find their feet under Tito Vilanova, and Mourinho has always managed to repeat his league wins a year after the first success (at Porto, Chelsea and Inter). But the top target for club and coach will be La Decima - a 10th European Cup. The Portuguese recently said Real would win it either next season or the following year. Either way, his intention to stay for four more years at the Bernabeu is wonderful news for Real Madrid - and very ominous for the rest of Europe.
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