Mourinho expects his Madrid reign to be short

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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho goes into tonight's game against Hercules having clocked up 150 days as manager of Real Madrid.

Asked yesterday if he felt he could become a long-serving manager at the Bernabeu, emulating Premier League examples such as Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson, he fuelled the speculation that he is saving that challenge for when he returns to England.

"It is not possible to be at a club for that long in Spain," he said. "It is not possible in Italy, or Portugal either. It can happen in England where coaches can stay at the same club for years and years, sometimes even without winning anything."

The comments came after Cristiano Ronaldo gave his current manager a ringing endorsement as a potential successor to Ferguson. The former United player was asked to compare his former manager with Mourinho.

Ronaldo said: "They are two winners who have won everything there is to win. I loved working with Sir Alex and I had a great relationship with him. I also consider him a great friend and now have the same feeling with Mourinho. They are the best coaches in the world."

Mourinho takes his multimillion- pound side to Alicante tonight to play a Hercules team who could not train yesterday because there was no running water and electricity at their training ground. The team that toppled Barcelona earlier in the season had preparations for the visit of Madrid thrown into chaos when they turned up for training yesterday morning to find no running water at their Rico Perez stadium and so switched to their Fontcalent training facility, where they discovered there was no electricity.

Today they must face Real without the player they loaned from Madrid at the start of the season, Royston Drenthe. The Dutchman has been one of the stars of their season but a clause in his loan deal means short of paying €2m (£1.7m) Drenthe cannot play against his former team-mates.

La Liga's top scorer Ronaldo is on a staggering run of 36 goals in his last 37 league games but Barcelona's top scorer Leo Messi has scored 39 goals in his last 41 league games. Barça face Seville tonight having learned yesterday that their goalkeeper Jose Pinto has been banned for two Champions League games by Uefa for whistling in his team's win over FC Copenhagen 10 days ago.

European football's governing body ruled that he had deliberately tried to mislead the opposition with a whistle that made them believe the referee had stopped play for offside; this, despite Pinto claiming that he always whistles to organise his defence. Cesar Santin was clean through for the Danes but stopped dead believing he had been flagged midway through the first half of Barça's 2-0 win.

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