Just over half of Real Madrid members want Jose Mourinho to continue as the club's coach no matter what happens this season, according to research published in Marca on Wednesday.
According to the Madrid-based newspaper, 54% of those polled want the Portuguese boss to stay on, with 42% preferring him to leave. Of those asked, 62 % said Mourinho's words and actions are damaging the image of the club, while 33% disagreed with that view. Asked to rate the manager's performance out of 10, he received an overall mark of 6.68.
Marca says the research was carried out by polling company Sigma Dos, who spoke with 704 'socios' or club members either at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu before Sunday's game with Real Sociedad or by telephone.
Members were also asked to rate Mourinho's transfer dealings over the last 18 months (when Fabio Coentrao, Nuri Sahin, Hamit Altintop, Raphael Varane, Jose Callejon, Luka Modric and Michael Essien have arrived) and gave him an average mark of 5.48 out of 10.
The results were broken down by the age of the club member, with more support coming from older fans. Among those aged over 65, Mourinho's job rating was 6.92 out of 10, with 62% wanting him to stay on as boss next season. Those aged between 30 and 44 gave him an average rating of 6.45 with 50% feeling he should remain in charge.
The findings were also broken down by gender, with women more critical of Mourinho's general behaviour: 69% of female members asked felt his comportment was damaging the club's image, a figure which dropped to 60% for male members asked. According to Marca, 48% of the club's "socias" would prefer he was not in charge next year.
This year's survey appears to have been timed to coincide with the current controversy around Mourinho's dropping of club captain and talisman Iker Casillas, and perhaps also because a Madrid socio claimed on Twitter last week that the same polling company had called him regarding a more in-depth survey which they were undertaking on behalf of the club itself. Madrid then quickly released an official statement denying knowledge of any such research.
A similar survey in March 2011 found 94.4% of members wanting Mourinho to continue and gave him an overall 8.82 out of 10 score. That research took place weeks before Barcelona saw off Madrid's challenge in both the Champions League and La Liga, while Mourinho's side claimed the Copa del Rey, during the tempestuous four clasicos in 18 days.
While Marca has reported the results as showing a large drop in support for Mourinho since then, the reverse view is that he has retained the backing of more than half the club's members despite being 16 points behind Barcelona in the Primera Division standings and all the recent media criticism and whistling and booing of his name before and during games.