Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova says that had he been in Jose Mourinho’s position- 18 points behind the league leaders with half the season played- he would have been sacked.
It was a subtle, yet damning salvo fired by Vilanova ahead of Barca’s Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg against Malaga on Wednesday night, and came in the wake of comments from the Real camp that dubious refereeing decisions have helped Barca to their significant La Liga lead.
Asked if Real were out of the title race already, Vilanova said the champions still have fight in them yet. But that had he been the one presiding over such a vast gap, there would be a new man in charge at the Camp Nou by now.
"No," Vilanova said. "But this. That question, if the situation was reversed, I would not be here answering it.
“Madrid are capable of winning every game of the second half of the season and we could lose those points. We are not talking about there just being four games left. There are lots left.
“I know things happen and can happen quickly. As they lose games, coaches become less good."
Before Barca can return their focus to their La Liga rampage however, they must contend with Malaga again.
The team from the Costa del Sol were swatted aside by Barca 3-1 on their own turf last weekend, but Vilanova insists that he is not taking another victory for granted tonight.
"I do not believe we will relax," he said.
"It is true that we won the league game and we played very well.
“This is a game which could perfectly be in the Champions League.
“Malaga are a team full of quality and, over two legs, when you have a sending off or a goal against, everything becomes more difficult."