Real Madrid were very underwhelming in the 2012/13 season.
Los Blancos failed to challenge Barcelona to the La Liga title after a disappointing start to the campaign.
Despite going unbeaten in their final 16 Spanish top-flight games, Real could ‘only’ muster 85 points and finished a whopping 15 points below their fierce rivals.
Real also fell short in the Copa del Rey and the Champions League, losing in the semi-finals and final respectively.
Their only silverware that season came in the shape of the Supercopa de España.
That’s simply not good enough for a team that featured countless world-class players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric.
So, what went wrong?
One of the problems that Real may have experienced that season under Jose Mourinho was a lack of spirit.
And that point is emphasised by the fact that only two Real players turned up to Michael Essien’s party.
Yes, really. On December 3, 2012, Essien celebrated his 30th birthday party.
He invited the whole squad to the celebrations but only two bothered to turn up.
Rob Beasley told the story in the book ‘Jose Mourinho: Up Close and Personal’.
He wrote, per Marca: “Mourinho said that Madrid was a political club with warring factions and told me a story about Essien inviting teammates to his 30th birthday but only a few turned up.
“He had to console Essien, saying it was nothing personal and that it didn’t mean the players didn’t like him but they simply were only concerned with themselves and had better things to do.”
Heartbreaking. It turns out that the only two players that turned up to his birthday celebrations were Modric and former Chelsea teammate, Ricardo Carvalho.
The three posed for a picture that evening and Essien looked like he was in good spirits.
But you couldn’t have blamed him for being annoyed that so many players simply couldn’t be bothered to celebrate the day with him.