The Last Word: The eyes have it: Jose's on his last legs

The Real Madrid coach's latest disgraceful spat shows that Barça's dominance is getting to him

It was hard to know which was more shocking: Marcelo's wild lunge that scythed down Cesc Fabregas or Jose Mourinho's finger-poking in the eye of Tito Vilanova, Barcelona's assistant coach.

Marcelo's challenge in the closing moments of Barcelona's 3-2 victory over Real Madrid in Wednesday's Spanish Super Cup was outrageous in its sheer brutality, while there was something chillingly calculated about Mourinho's actions. As pandemonium broke out on the pitch, the Real coach strode towards Vilanova, who had his back to him, before reaching round to push a finger towards his eye.

During another mass confrontation in the second half, television pictures showed Mourinho gesturing as if to wave away a bad smell when he was close to Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Daniel Alves. In the press conference Mourinho did not apologise for the incident involving Vilanova – he claimed he did not even know the assistant coach's name – and accused Barcelona's ballboys of time-wasting, which he said was the tactic of a "small-time" club.

We have come to expect the unexpected from Mourinho, but he seems to be on a mission to outdo his own excesses. After all, this was supposed to be merely a curtain-raiser, even if any meeting between the giants of Spanish football assumes an importance of its own.

The obvious conclusion is that Barcelona's domination of their rivals is getting under the skin of Mourinho, who is not used to finishing second. Tensions have reached such a level that Gerard Pique, the Barcelona defender, accused Mourinho of "destroying Spanish football".

When Barcelona and Real played each other four times in 18 days towards the end of last season the matches were disfigured by brawls, dives and claims that players feigned injuries. Mourinho suggested that Uefa were biased in favour of Barcelona, which earned him a ban.

Where will it all end? Real fans may like the fact that Mourinho stands up to their greatest rivals, but theirs is a club that likes to win with style and lose with dignity. Poking a coach in the eye is hardly the Real deal. Working for Real surely requires certain standards of behaviour and Mourinho is falling beneath them.

The Spanish authorities are thought unlikely to take any action because the referee did not mention the Vilanova incident in his report. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola, Barcelona's coach, said "the images speak for themselves" and added: "There are certain things that shouldn't be done. This will end badly if it doesn't stop."

Mourinho could find himself under pressure for football reasons. While the departure of Jorge Valdano, the club's sporting director, appeared to strengthen Mourinho's hand, particularly in recruitment, would the coach survive another season as second fiddle to Barcelona? Given the fortunes Real have invested in their squad, a return will be expected. Vicente Del Bosque, who won the Champions' League twice, was sacked eight years ago after winning a 29th league title.

It is hard to imagine where Mourinho would go next. His career has been on an upward curve. Having defied the odds to win the Champions League with Porto, he led Chelsea to unprecedented success in the Premier League, restored Internazionale to former glories and then took on the world's most famous club.

Where do you go after that? Mourinho has always talked of a return to England but, after coaching Real, would any club other than Manchester United be a backward step?

As for the possibility of succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson, you have to wonder if the Mourinho brand of football is in keeping with Old Trafford's traditions. The Portuguese may have the winning touch, but for all his tactical brilliance and eye for talent, his teams do not usually play with the élan that the United faithful expect. Besides, how would his behaviour go down in the boardroom?

Mourinho as an international manager? Whatever pull Portugal might have, Mourinho's home country does not have the depth of talent to deliver success. Other countries would love to have Mourinho take charge, but nearly all those with a realistic chance of success refuse to look beyond their own borders when appointing a coach.

Wherever he goes next, let us hope he stays in the game. Planet Football would certainly be a less interesting world without the Special One.

McIlroy knows that less is more

Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy no doubt find better things to do when they are together, but you do wonder whether the women's world No 1 tennis player and golf's US Open champion, who are rumoured to be an item, have considered whether their relationship is affecting their careers.

McIlroy was in Cincinnati last week to watch Wozniacki, who lost her first match for the second tournament in succession. Despite continuing to enter more events than many of the other top players, she has won only once since Wimbledon.

McIlroy has played in only four tournaments since his US Open triumph in June. He finished 25th at the Open, where his indifferent performance was said to be not wholly unconnected to his split from his long-time girlfriend, Holly Sweeney; hewas 34th at the Irish Open;sixth at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational; and 64th at the USPGA Championship. He is not due to play again until next month's European Masters.

If limited appearances do not appear to be paying off for McIlroy, there is surely more sense in his schedule than in Wozniacki's. While most of her rivals rested after Wimbledon, she played a clay-court event in Sweden the following week. This week most players will be honing their games on the practice court in readiness for next week's US Open – Wozniacki will be competing in New Haven.

Regularly grilled about her failure to win a major title, Wozniacki might learn from Serena Williams, who has won 13 Grand Slam crowns but restricts her appearances elsewhere. The world No 31 pulled out of Cincinnati last week because of a minor toe injury and because she wanted to prepare for the US Open. Guess which of the two women is the favourite to win at Flushing Meadows next month.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor