• Stand-off between two parties over terms of release
• Mourinho still expected to join Chelsea in summer
José Mourinho insisted that he is contemplating staying at Real Madrid but the message was delivered as a threat, not a promise, as he continues to prepare the ground for his departure from the club and possible return to Chelsea.
He also said that he will not demand that his contract is paid up in full but will charge only the days he has worked at Madrid "and not a euro more". That still leaves the question of a penalty clause for unilaterally breaking the contract before its official end in 2016.
The Real Madrid manager knows that he will have to negotiate his exit from the Bernabéu at the end of the season and he took advantage of his appearance before the media ahead of the visit of Málaga on Wednesday night to strengthen his hand and issue a warning: if Madrid's president, Florentino Pérez, does not agree a settlement that suits both parties he could yet torpedo the club's plans by announcing that he is staying after all. Madrid intend to replace Mourinho with Carlo Ancelotti.
Mourinho's contract includes a clause that lays down a penalty in the event of the contract being broken unilaterally by either party. Although the figure is not public, it is believed to be in the region of €20m (£16.9m). Should Mourinho walk away, the club that sign him must pay Madrid that indemnity; should Madrid sack him, that fee would be due to Mourinho.
Both Pérez and Mourinho now know that the coach's departure is virtually inevitable and indeed desirable but it is in their interests for it to be the other side that formally ends the relationship and publicly carries the blame. A negotiated settlement in which manager and club waive any fee continues to be the most logical outcome but is not yet guaranteed. And it is in that context that Mourinho's remarks make sense.
A return to Stamford Bridge now looks inevitable, especially with the interim manager, Rafael Benítez, on Tuesday giving the strongest hint yet that it would be Mourinho who replaces him in the summer. "You know that next year another manager will be here," he said. "I think everybody knows who will be here. I have to concentrate on my job, it's not my concern."
Following Mourinho's explosive press conference on Friday in which he pointed the finger of blame at the media and at Iker Casillas, polls showed that significant numbers of supporters believe he may be trying to provoke Madrid into sacking him. There is a familiarity about what sometimes appears a scorched earth policy.
He was whistled by fans on Saturday evening at the Bernabéu and after the match, which Madrid won 4-3 against Valladolid, the central defender Pepe, always seen as close to his coach, distanced himself from Mourinho.
The following day Madrid's president called for unity, saying that the players would come together in what remains of the season. Pérez did not mention Mourinho, despite having been quick to defend him in public over the past three years.
Asked here if he had considered resigning, Mourinho replied: "I have considered continuing." He was then asked if he was trying to force his own sacking, to which he responded: "People believe what you lot write. I will work until my last day. And I will be paid up to the last day I work, not a euro more."
He claimed that he did not feel isolated at the club, with a response that may have been aimed at Pérez, who Mourinho had always insisted on calling not just his president but also his friend. "I feel normal," he said. "In fact, I understand perfectly that the world is going in directions that I do not share and that football is no different. It's normal for the world to be what it is: hypocritical."
Mourinho also responded to Pepe, who had accused his coach of showing a lack of respect to Casillas, the captain, last Friday, describing his words as "inappropriate" and for the first time gave a footballing explanation was to why he plays Diego López ahead of Casillas.
The Portuguese called the defender "frustrated" and noted sharply: "Pepe's problem is easy to analyse: it's called Varane. It's hard to be a 31 year old and be steamrollered by a 19-year-old kid [Raphaël Varane] but that's the law of life. There must be very few people who don't think the future is [Sergio] Ramos and Varane.
"I have to have the legitimacy to decide: I am a football manager. I prefer López to Casillas. I like a goalkeeper who is good with his feet, who comes for crosses, who dominates his area. You all question me and I accept that but you have to accept that I am the coach, it is simple."