Jose Mourinho's reported spat with a Spanish football journalist could hasten his Real Madrid exit, according to Guillem Balague.
Mourinho, 49, is said to have rowed with Radio Marca's Anton Meana over a report that Real's goalkeeping coach Silvino Louro was reporting what the players said about their boss to 'the Special One'.
Balague and fellow Revista de la Liga pundit Graham Hunter both believe that the disagreement - far from being a private affair - could in fact be part of a concerted effort by Mourinho to leave the club.
"At the end of the press conference before the Espanyol game, Anton Meana from Radio Marca was asked to go behind the press office where he found Silvino Louro, the goalkeeper coach, who the journalist had accused in his radio show of being the 'spy' of the side for Mourinho - that was what one of the players apparently told the journalist," reported Balague.
"Jose Mourinho was next to him and four other people - there were six people who questioned the information. Basically, Mourinho used the words 'I'm a top manager and you are a 'thingy' journalist (replace 'thingy' for something very bad!).
"All in all he was very tense and there was an exchange of views and he kind of relaxed at the end, after 25 minutes.
"But why did Jose Mourinho have to do that? We are talking, of course, about a Marca journalist and even though they agreed at the end not to use the private conversation, a day later Marca wrote a whole page explaining the whole story.
"One of the things Mourinho said was 'why did you have to listen to one of the three rotten eggs that I have in my squad and not the 21 who are with me?'
"The fact that the squad is divided (admitted by Mourinho) and dealing with a Marca journalist, suggests that Jose Mourinho wanted this out anyway. But why he wanted this out we can argue... but how about if he is looking for reasons to leave? Or looking for reasons to be sacked?"
Mourinho conceded it was "practically impossible" for his side to retain their Primera Division title at the weekend before Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 4-1 to improve their lead over Los Blancos to 13 points and Hunter believes that the politics off the field could be adversely affecting how the players are performing.
"Genuinely ask yourself whether Mourinho is laying a strategy, which would be my opinion too - that he's saying 'look there was the milestone there and that was another milestone - all of that is in my way and I'm not being allowed to do my job'.
"If the players are listening to this and consuming this - and we all know they are quite an intelligent bunch of men, they are not missing what's going on. That could be affecting their attitude and concentration at set pieces."