Having missed out on the Spanish title last year, the scale of the task facing Jose Mourinho as he attempts to rebuild Real Madrid is reflected in next year’s bwin La Liga title odds.
By Mourinho’s high standards, his first season in charge at the Bernabeu constituted a failure.
While Los Blancos beat their bitter rivals Barcelona in the final to claim the Copa del Rey, they lost to Barca in the semi-finals of the Champions League and finished four points behind them in the Spanish league.
With this in mind, it is easy to see why it is Barca, and not Real, who are favourites to win the 2011-12 Primera Division.
Real are priced at 5/4 for the league crown, meaning a successful £25 free bet on them to finish first, available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account, would return £56.25.
Crucially, Real’s directors have boosted their chances of breaking Barcelona’s Spanish league dominance through their decision to back Mourinho.
Love him or hate him, there are few – if any – people better qualified to mastermind success than Mourinho, even when up against a Barcelona side mooted as one of the best of all time.
However, there had been doubts over Mourinho’s commitment to the Madrid project after a number of disagreements with director general Jorge Valdano.
Where once Real might have once pressed the panic button and ejected Mourinho from the manager’s hotseat in favour of someone more pliable, they have instead backed and strengthened the Portuguese’s position.
Valdano has been shown the door and Mourinho now has more freedom to operate as he sees fit.
“The experience of [last] season has shown the need for a new organisational structure giving authority to the coach and avoiding dysfunctions with the directorate general,” Real president Florentino Perez said last month.
“There were two people filling a sporting role between whom there was no understanding. Ignoring the evidence is not practical for anyone.”
With greater autonomy, Mourinho has set about rebuilding his squad with renewed vigour and has already brought in the highly-rated Nuri Sahin from Borussia Dortmund.
The trouble is, no matter how many new players arrive, Madrid will still start with underdogs given Barca’s strengths.
Having said that, with Mourinho in charge, Los Blancos could still be outside bets to wrestle the crown from Barcelona.
New customers can register here to claim a £25 free bet.