Zizou, we know you don’t like speaking to the Press. Why do you want to give Diario AS your opinion?
I’ve found the criticism against Madrid, the Coach and the players since the night of the cup game against Barca to be very unfair. I don’t understand everything that has been said about Mourinho’s team line-up. He can use any system he wants if the opponents are, at this time, a step above you. What can you do? At the break Madrid were winning 1-0 and the fans were happy because we were beating Barcelona.
I was in the Santiago Bernabéu and didn’t hear anyone criticise his tactics. Before the game everybody was concerned when they found out the Madrid team, but after the first half they were silent because they realised it was working. Afterwards that there was a mistake for Puyol’s goal from a dead ball, something that really hurt us.
More accurately, it was an error by a team that trains behind closed doors at Valdebebas in order to avoid this type of mistake!
We are a team that doesn’t concede many goals from dead balls. The statistics are there and are good. The players, the Coach, and everybody else is aware of that, but all the great teams can commit this type of error at any given moment. Yet the thing that bothers me most is to have to listen to the attacks on the system of play. I would challenge all the world’s great coaches to say what the right system is to beat Barcelona!
But you were an elegant footballer. You are not going to say that this way of playing the game is beautiful?
I don’t agree. There comes a time when the only beautiful thing is victory. Firstly, you are there to win, win and win. Certainly at a club like Madrid you need beauty but at any time, against such a difficult opponent, you have to create the conditions for victory. On Wednesday night we played with three forwards capable of doing great things. Of course, we didn’t create 50,000 chances but we created some passages of play and good movement.
But can Madrid really play like that?
Why not? Occasionally even Madrid can marry the result to the style. Real Madrid also have the right to say: “Okay, today we need to do everything to win this match and are going to sacrifice some things to achieve that.” And that doesn’t just happen in football but in any way of life. Sometimes you have to put your overalls on and get your hands dirty. On Wednesday, the tactics were to accept less of the ball and to find another way to win.
Does that not limit the quality of the footballers. Would you have accepted that?
What does ‘accept’ mean? It isn’t like that. We play in a certain way and it worked in the first half. A good through ball from Karim, a great shot from Cristiano and goal! We were ahead. Madrid’s strength is also the ability to play on the counter-attack. We wouldn’t have discovered that if we were deprived of that weapon.
You look really upset, not to say angry...
I don’t understand that certain people in the Press criticise Mourinho’s Madrid when, at the bottom of it all, they are only motivated by outstanding vendettas against him. How can you accept it when they say we need to change the Coach? Are we crazy or what? Not when we are lucky to have him, a Coach who takes things to a new level, someone who is building a stronger Madrid.
To attack Mourinho and the players is to attack Madrid. I go to Valdebebas a lot and I see with my own eyes the daily work he does with the players. Mourinho only hopes Madrid benefits, that we win everything. He is giving the team a lot of personality. You cannot imagine how all the coaching staff are involved in this project. And also the players.
Are you sure it is everybody?
Yes of course. It bothers me that they attack so many of our players. They deserve everyone’s respect for what they are doing. I don’t understand such fierce criticism.
Of course, you are defending both the players and Mourinho. Why?
Because Mourinho is creating the groundwork for success. Look at the statistics since he took the reins. They are incredible. They are all incredible. And he is the main person responsible for those exploits. And to think that some doubt his commitment to Madrid and say he will only be here two years and then leave.
Honestly, I’d prefer it if he only stayed two or three years and did something great rather than have somebody here for 10 years and win nothing. Look, he was only at Inter Milan two years and when you talk of his time there you note a tremendous respect for the club and what he achieved.
Would you like to have played under him?
Sure. Like any player who has passed through his hands. He is hard, honest, and makes you understand what it is to know how to win. He is a born winner. You either like his methods or not, but I can assure you he always protects his players and speaks up for them.
At the moment I am in a position that allows me to see clearly what is happening at Valdebebas, and I can tell you what I see is work very well done. What is happening is that we are at a stage where two great teams are dominating football and one is slightly on top of the other...for the moment.
What can you tell us about what Pepe did last Wednesday against Barca?
Pepe is a player you hardly ever hear off the pitch. He is a lovely guy, a well-educated person. But when he enters the pitch he is obsessed with winning and this desire forces him to make mistakes. I’m sure he regrets what he did, but Pepe is a player that gives his all and at times he takes it to the limit.
What do you think of those who say he is not compatible with Madrid’s values ?
I say to these people to look closely at what Pepe brings to Real Madrid. Pepe, like all our players, is aware of what Madrid ‘s image represents and he respects that a lot. Even on the pitch within the tension of a match.
When will the criticism of Madrid and Mourinho stop?
Football, like life, goes through cycles and things will change. I speak as a player would speak. It seems unfair to slaughter this Coach and these players so much: unfair that a magnificent series of consecutive victories should be erased like this. It’s funny that those who say Messi and the other Barca players were not as good as usual don’t realise it was precisely because Mourinho played the right system, that is was also difficult to play against.
And specifically the criticism of Cristiano?
People need to know who Cristiano is. He is a model professional who works harder than anybody. Let nobody ever doubt his love and commitment to Madrid. It is a lie to say he is an egotist.
But it left a bad taste when he did not celebrate a goal...
So what? Is the lad not entitled to do what he wants? He has a lot of character and is hot blooded. You have to accept it and take him for what he is, with his good points and bad points, and Cristiano has a lot more good ones than bad.
Finally, I can’t avoid asking you about Karim Benzema?
Karim is now showing his talent. He works hard, understands he is at the biggest club in the world and, with the confidence of the Coach and his teammates, is learning many more things. But I’ll tell you something: Karim is still young and his best is yet to come.
he doesnt sound very happy lol....
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Completely understand what hey means about Pepe , happens to me all they time
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