There was no 100-metre dash, no exuberant, celebratory knee slide, not even a profuse outpouring of emotion.
When Cristiano Ronaldo sealed a dramatic comeback against Manchester United to send Real Madrid through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in nearly a decade, it was greeted by Mourinho with almost apologetic acceptance.
Some might say it was a mark of respect for Sir Alex Ferguson, whose side had edged the opening 150 minutes of a pulsating tie that was surely filled with too much quality to grace merely the last-16 of Europe’s premier competition.
Others might say that Mourinho’s subdued celebrations were due to the hope of improving the Manchester United board's perception of him, with an ambition to succeed Ferguson, if and when he does finally retire.
I, however, believe that it was something more; a sign that Mourinho, once of untameable passion, sees his post at Real Madrid as now just a matter of fulfilling his contract. The emotional attachment to FC Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, on each of whose histories he has left an indelible mark, was key to their success.
These clubs became a part of him, engulfed him to an extent that his role was not simply managerial but developed into a quest for glory, not just personal but for the fans and players who had invested their faith in him unreservedly.
Without doubt, Mourinho’s desire to become the first ever manager to lift the European Cup with three different clubs burns deeply within, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that Mourinho’s reign at the Santiago Bernabeu has already been given an expiry date.
Whilst Mourinho’s primary objective when he arrived from Inter Milan in 2010 was to break up the dominance of Barcelona in the league, a feat that he achieved last season with a record 100 points, matters have turned irreversibly sour this season following a series of player protests which eventually lead to Iker Casillas being dropped for the first time since 2002.
Perhaps it is the nature of his management style that long-term dominion, akin to Sir Alex Ferguson’s at Manchester United, is impossible, but whatever the reasons behind Mourinho’s demise at Real Madrid, one thing is for certain: his time at the helm of Los Blancos is coming to an end.
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