Many accuse Mourinho of banishing Iker Casillas from his homeland, the space bounded by a small box and 3 sticks which stands one week at the Santiago Bernabeu and the other at an away stadium. This space has been governed by Iker for 15 years.
The arrival of Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid bench further fueled Casillas minutes on the field, until something happened in early 2013. A crusade was declared; therefore Iker was replaced and subjected to ostracism. Not clearly explained anywhere, but it has become clear that the relationship was broken and Casillas did not defend Real Madrid’s goal anymore. While this case may be one more in the sports world, the fact that Casillas is the captain, and Jose Mourinho the coach, unleashes some controversy, expressed in its wider in Real’s supporters and in team’s locker room.
Two of the three leaders of the Real Madrid football faced by a football ideal and different leadership visions, creating a social fracture with uneasy repair in the short time. What kind of leaders are they?
José Mourinho is a dictator and autocratic leader. Or expressed similarly, he is the kind of leader who forces his own ideas in the group, is inflexible and likes to order and to destroy the creativity of the group. He loves to make decisions without justifying them and evaluation criteria are not known to the group. He is that kind of leader who is egomaniac, who attributes the merits of the successes to himself and blames the group on defeats.
Iker Casillas is a lateral leader. He is a leader who is in the same range as his team mates but that influences people at his same level in order to achieve goals. He is the team’s sacred cow, who has more experience and more titles, and the only one left from the last batch of home-grown. Iker leads by example. He is the emblem of Real Madrid and the Spanish national team.
And what’s Arbeloa doing in the middle of this leaders’ war? Arbeloa is a subject of Mourinho’s reign; the prince ruled by the Princess, he is the ugly duckling of the family. Arbeloa, since Mourinho’s arrival, aware of his skill limitations, chose to obey his boss’s orders. This way he could ensure minutes. While things have gone well (Copa del Rey first season, League of 100 points the second), everyone has applauded his level of commitment. On the other hand, most people obviated his level of aggressiveness, inability to attack and his skill limitations. He was clearly overrated.
When did the Arbeloa bubble burst? By the time he decided to position himself in this story. Unlike most of his teammates, he decided to back the Dictator Leader, and leave in evidence his Captain, the true leader of the locker room, that after all, is the one sure he will have to see every morning during the season. Arbeloa has been the leader’s spy, the infiltrate in the locker room. Once he has seen himself uncovered due to Mourinho’s departure from Real Madrid, has decided to die fighting, shooting against his colleagues, criticizing them for not supporting the coach.
Imagine a company with plenty of budget, where the workforce is highly skilled and projects that are intensive in economic resources and people. Imagine, then, a Consulting Company. The associate director of the project in which you are is Jose Mourinho. Iker Casillas is the project manager. Iker is the one who saves and distributes among his colleagues. He is the stopper, the group leader, who leads by example, by commitment; he comes in early and is the last one to leave the office.
In an extreme situation where a group crisis arises, to whom will you give your hand? Who would you go out with for a beer after work to discuss work and personal issues? Who would work with side by side to build a project that seems to be sinking? Would you agree to work under the command of a famous dictatorial leader who guarantees success?
My main concern is how will Arbeloa enter the locker room the first preseason day? How will he look to his teammates? The code of a locker room is basically to respect your colleagues, to support and to trust. Once you break one of these rules, you are no longer a teammate. You become professional colleague.
A group must always have a leader who will make decisions, but the leader must be able to adapt himself to the group he is leading. An autocratic and dictatorial leadership can work in the army or in certain communities. In an elite group of football players you can have the good fortune that you fraternize with them and so they idealize you. Either way, you can generate a rejection feeling such that the only way out is taking off from the locker room. What the group will never allow is someone from the inside breaking the code for an individual benefit that could harm the rest.
If I were Arbeloa, I would have chosen to defend my captain in the locker room, where problems are solved. What I have clear is that I would not like to be Arbeloa the first day of preseason.