Whenever Jose Mourinho appears in the cartoon on the back page of Barcelona-based daily football paper Sport, the artist depicts him looking out from the corner of the drawing wearing a straitjacket. It is an image that his critics say he is starting to live up to.
When he arrived at Real Madrid a year ago there was a genuine fear among Barça supporters that it would spell the end of their domination – but that loathing respect has given way to mocking humour.
There is unlikely to be any action taken against him for his behaviour in the Spanish Super Cup second leg. President of the competition committee Alfredo Flores will only act if Barcelona make a complaint and, aware that they were not innocent bystanders, that seems unlikely.
So he will be free to start his second season in the dug-out but he begins this campaign with many in the Spanish capital wondering if all the disciplinary baggage is really worth it. "The images will speak for themselves," said Pep Guardiola after the game and sure enough the stills of Mourinho, at best pinching the cheek of Tito Vilanova, at worst poking Barcelona's assistant coach in the eye (above), were damning.
In his defence the "clasico" is a fixture littered with unsavoury incidents. And the noble traditions that Mourinho is often accused by the club's elder statesmen of betraying are somewhat exaggerated. But it isn't just what Mourinho does, more the way he does it that begs the question, has he gone too far?
The aggression towards Vilanova came from behind – it was more childishly devious than bravely confrontational. Afterwards there was no apology and he said he did not know Vilanova's name referring to him as "Pito" instead of Tito.
"Maybe he really doesn't know my No 2's name," said Guardiola. But it's hard to imagine Mourinho's encyclopaedic knowledge of all his rivals does not stretch to the assistant manager of the Spanish champions.
The response sat uncomfortably alongside another snapshot captured by Spanish television of Mourinho appearing to make the gesture of waving away a bad smell when he was in the proximity of Dani Alves and Leo Messi during another second-half mêlée on the touchline.
The theatrics that were once heroic – the celebratory slide on his knees at the Nou Camp as Chelsea coach or the charging down the touchline at Old Trafford as Porto manager have been replaced by exaggerated gestures of someone who knows he is the centre of attention.
Winning is the overriding priority at Madrid but Real's fans require their team to lose with dignity.
Of more long-term concern to Mourinho could be the damage to his own career. The Manchester United job might once have been his to turn down but will such a famous old institution want to be linked with a coach who dragged Madrid through the mire in an everything-goes pursuit of major honours?Reuse content