Mourinho to leave Real Madrid at end of season

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MADRID (AP) - Jose Mourinho will leave Real Madrid after three years as coach, paving the path for his return to England and a second stint as Chelsea’s manager.

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez announced at a news conference following a board meeting Monday that a mutual agreement was reached for Mourinho’s departure.

The 50-year-old Portuguese coach has two matches remaining in a season that will end on June 1 without Madrid winning a major trophy.

Mourinho will leave having won only two major titles, the 2011 Copa del Rey and the 2012 league championship, and he failed to deliver the club’s much-desired 10th European Cup. He was ejected from Friday’s 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

“This has been an insufficient season for us and also for Mourinho himself,” Perez said.

Mourinho’s locker room appeared to splinter this season as he benched goalkeeper Iker Casillas, the captain of Madrid and Spain’s world and European championship teams.

“To spend three years in a first-division Spanish club is not easy _ I share his reasons for wanting to leave,”

Perez said. “The level of pressure has increased, so much that this is what has happened now. … He may have made some mistakes and asked for forgiveness, but the level of pressure Mourinho has been under has been unusual.”

After becoming the third coach to win the European Cup with two teams (Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010), Mourinho replaced Manuel Pellegrini at Real for the 2010-11 season.

“With Mourinho, we made a big leap competitively and sporting-wise,” Perez said. “Today Madrid is where it ought to be. We had not reached that level prior to his arrival, so the balance of his stay here was positive.”

The agreement indicates the colorful and outspoken coach can return to Chelsea after a six-year absence without any compensation from the London club to Madrid. It was at Chelsea where Mourinho became the self-dubbed “Special One.”

“I know in England I am loved,” he told a news conference last month after Real was eliminated from the Champions League. “I’m loved by the fans. I’m loved by the media, which treats me in a fair way. … I know I’m loved by some clubs, especially one.”

He added that “in Spain the situation is a bit different because some people hate me. And many of you are in this room.”

Rafa Benitez’s stint as Chelsea’s interim manager will end following a postseason tour of the U.S. that includes exhibitions against Manchester City in St. Louis on Thursday and in New York on Saturday. After winning the Champions League last year under Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea was eliminated in the group stage but went on to win the second-tier Europa League.

Mourinho helped transform Chelsea under owner Roman Abramovich, winning the Premier League in 2005 _ its first in a half-century. He added another league title in 2006, the FA Cup in 2007 and won the League Cup in 2005 and 2007.

“He galvanizes people,” Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard told Talk Sport radio Monday. “His own self-confidence reflects back on his teams. … what he does is he gets the best out of players and gets this togetherness that I’d never known until he came to the club and I haven’t seen it again since then.”

Popular with fans and media alike in England _ in stark contrasted to his many fraught relationships in Spain _ Mourinho appears to have repaired his relationship with Abramovich, who has had nine managers since 2000.

“He might rub people up the wrong way but, as a manager, he’s brilliant with his team. Tactically, he’s brilliant with individuals and I think he’s brilliant with the press,” Lampard said. “I know it creates a storm, but he does protect his players.”

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AP Sports Writer Rob Harris in London contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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