José Mourinho claimed that he has not yet made a decision on his future but did so during a press conference performance that felt like a farewell and a settling of scores. At one point he pulled out a piece of paper and reeled off a list of former Real Madrid managers whose achievements, or lack of them, put his record into perspective. He also pointed the finger of blame for his impending exit at two principal targets: the media and the club captain Iker Casillas, with whom his relationship has long since broken down.
Although Mourinho has not finalised a deal with Chelsea, he is preparing the ground for his arrival at Stamford Bridge and here he continued to stoke up talk of his departure from the Bernabéu. He insisted that his sacking from Chelsea in 2007 was not as "controversial" as is assumed and launched an aggressive defence of his achievements at Madrid, claiming the credit for ending Barcelona's "hegemony".
The sense that his spell in the Spanish capital is coming to an end was inescapable but, asked if he had taken a decision, Mourinho replied: "No, no. The first person I tell will be my wife and children. At the end of the season I will speak to the president, Florentino Pérez, and [director general] José Angel [Sánchez] and decide."
He added: "I have always left clubs in the right way. Even Chelsea, which seemed controversial, wasn't so much. When I go I never say anything negative about those clubs, quite the opposite. The day I go I will be wishing Madrid the best for the future. Clubs always stay with me. Chelsea did not win the European Cup with me but I was just as pleased when they won it. Madrid will always be special and I want them to win their 10th European Cup. If that's with me, fine. If not, I will enjoy it as much. It hurts when Inter lose and I enjoy it when Chelsea win."
At best, Mourinho's three-year spell at Madrid will end with one league title, in which his side reached a record 100 points, and two Copa del Rey successes, plus three Champions League semi-final appearances. Madrid trail Barcelona by 11 points in the league and the Catalans could tie up the title this weekend with four games to spare.
For some, that is a modest record for a club such as Real Madrid, a manager such as Mourinho and a squad that is the most expensive in the history of the game. But the Portuguese was quick to portray his record in far more positive terms.
"It is my fault: I have won so, so, so much that it is hard to live up to those expectations. But the points record in the league is mine and no one can take that away. Madrid had gone 20 years without a Copa del Rey success and we won that, so maybe it's not so easy. No one can take that away. We also reached three semi-finals. That does not satisfy me and I am not happy to 'nearly' do it, but it is not easy either," he added, unfolding a piece of paper and reading a list of former Madrid managers.
"John Toshack, Di Stéfano, Antic, Beenhakker, Floro, Arsenio, Capello, Heynckes, Hiddink, Del Bosque, Queiroz, Camacho, García Remón, López Caro, Vanderlei Luxemburgo, Capello again, Ramos, Schuster, Pellegrini ..." he read. "Eighteen coaches in 21 years, five semi-finals. Meanwhile, that rubbish Mourinho [got to] three in three years. Three in three after five in 21 years? That shows that it is not easy. I repeat: I don't want to 'nearly' get there, nearly is nothing to me. But that league record is mine.
"One hundred points is not easy to beat. Barcelona are probably the best team in the world in the last 20-30 years and that gives even greater value to what we achieved. It is one thing to beat a normal team to win the league, another to beat a team that is not normal. I am proud to have been the coach that broke Barcelona's hegemony," he said, adding: "At national level, I mean … at international level it was Inter [under Mourinho in 2010]."
Mourinho also rejected suggestions that his relationship with the fans has been problematic, instead defining it as "perfect" and shifting the blame on to the media, who have been accused of turning against him because he has done away with some of the privileges they had become accustomed to. Above all, though, the man singled out was Casillas, whom Mourinho dropped in favour of Diego López. The manager accuses Casillas of cultivating a relationship with the media and the media of championing the goalkeeper's cause. There is no longer any pretence when it comes to the confrontation between captain and coach.
"My players like to be treated the same way," Mourinho said. "They want a coach who coaches with his head and, if that happens, there is no problem. The problem happens when someone thinks he is above the rest." If that was ambiguous, what came next was not. Asked if he would have done anything differently, Mourinho replied: "I should have been more proactive at the end of the first season, more demanding and more insistent. We should have brought in Diego López then. I asked but he didn't come. I didn't do enough to bring him in and that's a pity.
"The press don't go on the plane with the team? I'm sorry but I think that is correct. The press are not allowed in at training sessions? Correct. The press don't know the starting XI? Correct. I don't put your beloved children in the team? Correct."