It exploded and drops of the sugary energy drink ran down the faces of those nearest to him. By improvisation or calculation, Mourinho had ensured that everyone had been on edge. The team had been emotionally stirred up and he had adjusted the final details of his grand tactical plan. All his work, all his energy, the planning of more than nine months, were now focused on one goal: to reach a state of ecstasy in the final of the Copa del Rey in Valencia on 20 April.
The days were filled with impassioned talk until finally 20 April arrived. He talked about politics, about nationalism, about the inexorable division between the Castilian and Catalan peoples. He knew, he said, because he had lived in Barcelona for many years, and was well aware of the local culture and the education that Catalan children receive. They, the Madrid players, were not to participate in this charade any more.
They must accept their role as bad guys and should refuse to acknowledge their rivals. Mourinho warned his players that if he saw any of them shaking hands outside of the formalities of the game they would be turning their backs on him — and on their team-mates. Anyone making any such friendly gesture towards the opposition ran the risk of becoming something very much like a traitor.
Sunday 1 May. Upon reaching Valdebebas the players were summoned by Mourinho to the dressing room and all the support staff — kit men, masseurs and medical staff — were asked to leave and close the door behind them, as they were suspected of leaking information to the press. To wait. We must defend very near the area with a low-block so the game ends 0—0.
If it ends 0—0 we can say that the tie was decided by the referee in the first leg. The only possible option is that the game ends with a close result and we lose the tie. Of the two impossible choices, the first is that they thrash us. This must be avoided at all costs so we can blame the referees. The other impossible choice is to win the tie. If, in trying to preserve the 0—0 we end up going to the final by chance, then perfect. But the priority is to finish with a close score so that we can blame the referees.
A 2—1, 1—0, a draw. He invited them to turn the game into a dialectical argument — this would provide him with a propaganda weapon that, with his rhetorical powers, he could then wield to devastating effect. The reaction of the players was mixed. Some tried to show that they had been moved. Leaning forward, Casillas held the edge of the bench with his left hand as if to twist it off.
He passed his right hand across his face while shaking his head. Casillas confessed to a friend in the club that he had never felt so embarrassed. The captain called his team-mates to the back, then told them to try to win the game.
The Special One: The Dark Side of Jose Mourinho by Diego Torres
Casillas said to his team-mates that they could tell the press what the coach had instructed them to say, but that on the pitch they should not surrender, adding that if they closed up shop they would look incompetent to the watching world. Huddled around him, everyone agreed.
Mourinho and Jorge Mendes shared an office straightaway. The agent set himself up in the suburb of La Finca in Pozuelo. The sight of Mendes in his dark-blue pinstripe suit sitting behind the glass, drinking coffee and looking at everything from behind the mask of his sunglasses, sparked the imagination of the players every morning as they warmed up.
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