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Tomás Roncero | 26/12/2012
Although some voices at the club called for drastic action after Real Madrid's 'Waterloo moment' on Saturday in La Rosaleda - with more than one member of the board of directors calling for José Mourinho's head after the 2-3 defeat to Málaga - Florentino Pérez has decided to give the coach another chance, in the hope that he will change the way he conducts himself and end his public spats. In other words, take his foot off the accelerator.
This new, communicative and empathetic Mourinho, less tense in public appearances, already showed signs of a possible change in attitude after the dramatic defeat in La Rosaleda.
When asked about the possibility of resigning from his position after the game, the Portuguese responded with an offer of a lifeline to the squad, which hinted at an attempt to heal wounds between him and them.
"If I felt that like the players didn't want to win, I would leave, I am too honest to continue a losing battle. I would be the first one to say so, but the players want to win. I've told them that they can go home with a clear conscience, they did as well as they could."
There's more. Before saying goodbye to Florentino and his assistants on the way to Portugal, Mourinho uttered a simple phrase which eased the nerves of the club's directors: "We will turn this around." Witnesses gave assurances that he said it convincingly, putting all his faith in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, as well as improving Madrid's poor results in the league.
Florentino, who has been spending Christmas in China owing to work commitments, spoke to Mourinho before heading off, telling him that when the team return in January, he wants to see Madrid on the front pages of the newspapers for their sporting merits, like for the majority of last season, rather than due to off-the-pitch controversies, as has been the case since the 2012-13 season began. Directors have not forgotten the battering the club's image has taken due to Mourinho's criticism of the youth system, Castilla coach Alberto Toril, the players, and highly publicised conflicts with journalists.
Nor should it be forgotten that Florentino gave an indication of what he expects from his coach next year in his speech at the Christmas meal for journalists last Thursday, when he said: "Football should not mean tension, it is, first and foremost, a leisure activity, a form of escapism. The fans do not like tension, they go to stadiums to relax, to enjoy themselves, to forget about their problems at home. Football should not make people tense, quite the opposite."
Mourinho would have been well aware that the message was partly aimed at him.
Florentino also trusts that his coach, who has a contract with the club until 2016, will change his relationship with the press once he returns from holiday.
The tactic of blaming the press for the team's plight, in which the club has been complicit, fell apart after the defeat to Málaga, with one senior member of the club's board aptly summing up the state of affairs.
"The press cannot be blamed for the fact we are 16 points behind Barcelona or for the fact we have lost seven games (in all competitions). We have to take a look at ourselves."
Mourinho returns to work on 30 December. Everyone, from the president to the players to the fans, hope to see a man who has changed for the better.