© foto di Hernandez/Alterphotos/Image Sp
The national teams’ commitments have pushed the inter-club competitions to the background this week while José Mourinho continues working on the Ciudad Real Madrid premises getting the team ready to face the upcoming matches. The Real Madrid coach revisited the team’s current situation during a press conference delivered to the club’s official media, making the following statements, among others: “In this team, statistics count even in friendly matches, which are sometimes more difficult to play and find motivation for, but people have always responded in a positive way. I used to think, and still do, that this responsibility is somehow part of the team’s brand image, that is, doing things right and feeling that in representing the Real Madrid, you cannot joke even in friendly matches”.
Do you feel comfortable at your office in Valdebebas? It’s a very cosy…
Welcome to my home, welcome to Valdebebas. We’re all very close although it’s only temporary. Our hotel and the new facilities are almost done. In fact, we’ll be enjoying wonderful working conditions, but right now, here, we’ve got everything we need.
We’re at a competition standstill, with 19 international players overseas. How do you take advantage of time these days?
We do take advantage. We do things that later on are important. For example, right now I’m focusing on the Borussia Dortmund match, which I wouldn’t be able to do under normal conditions. If we played against the Celta this weekend, I’d be focusing only on the Celta. This week I’m working on the Borussia match with four players in the training sessions. We bring in junior players to try to give continuity to those who are not currently playing with their national teams. We work and make plans. This morning, for example, we held some meetings with the hotel managers to make some final arrangements. But I miss competition. You don’t work the same way.
Having 19 international players is very important for the Real Madrid?
It is important. It means that they are top-of-the-line players and that they are also important for their countries. Some of them who are not full-time starters between inverted commas at the Real Madrid are key players for their individual countries. I like them to go because it’s good both for them and their self-esteem. For instance, I’m immensely happy that Kaká has come back. For us it’s important. For the real coach who enjoys being one, as well as training and playing, these are tough weeks that stir up some doubt. You don’t know how they’ll return, what they’re doing, if they’ll be lucky during their matches, if they’ll come back feeling happy or less happy, if they’ll bring back some problems with them or not... When both matches are close –mainly when national teams’ matches are also on these weeks turn out rather complicated.
We have played 11 official matches already. Can we draw any conclusion yet?
Yes, a small one, but I think that I’ve talked about it well enough already. I’ve always said that the Supercup of Spain is the less important competition. However, the Barcelona’s being the rival, it acquires a different meaning and significance. We won it and we deserved to be the winner. It was important because the Real Madrid had not defeated the Barcelona at the Bernabéu stadium for several seasons in a row. Now, the Champions League is the best of all. Besides, the match against the Manchester City, despite all the trouble we went through, ended up being a highly special victory, in addition to a significant one. Regarding the League, I’ve said enough already. I didn’t like the team’s play nor our performance early in the match. Later on we started a period of growth, stability and, above all, of psychological improvement. Last year this team showed that when it’s at its best psychologically speaking, it has plenty of technical and tactical quality. The goal now is to maintain this series of positive results.
Have these 11 matches given you any clue as to what can be improved?
I know perfectly well that last season this team attained a good technical, tactical and mental level to face and play each match... Indeed, this team achieved an extraordinary level and that’s the only reason why it did what it did. I knew that this season we had to reach that same level because if we did so we’d be in the same footing. For different reasons, some of them beyond our control and others for our own fault, we didn’t start off well and it took us some time to find that path. We’re now on track and from the mental standpoint the match against the City was the click the team needed to feel that if you want, you can, and that when you want something dearly, quality always makes its way and overcomes anything. Then came the victory over the Rayo, a victory at home to which we got used in the previous season, a good match against the Barcelona. I believe the team is going in the direction we want. But going back to your question and my previous answer. 10-12 days without them is a long time and we’ll see how they return.
After the victory over the Manchester and the subsequent ones, do you think the team is now eager for more and has regained its competitiveness?
That’s this team’s nature. Last season this team showed precisely that nature. If you have a look at our track record throughout different competitions, it’s quite clear that the team wants to win, and wants to win always, in every single match. We’re never left out at the beginning of the competition. We play 12 Champions League matches and another 12 in the second season. We reach the Copa del Rey final match and then some other quarter-finals. We win or end up in the second position during the championship and hold on almost to the very end. “In this team, statistics count even in friendly matches, which are sometimes more difficult to play and find motivation for, but people have always responded in a positive way. I used to think, and still do, that this responsibility is somehow part of the team’s brand image, that is, doing things right and feeling that in representing the Real Madrid, you cannot joke even in friendly matches.” However, I think that this season started out in a rather inhumane manner. League Champion, the record League. Eurocup. Five or six players win the Eurocup, other three, four, five or six make it to the semi-finals, which is also an attainment. Very short vacation. A very short pre-season. The pre-season, in addition to being short, is interrupted by the friendly national teams’ matches. It wouldn’t be illogical to think, although I have to fight against it myself, that they have between inverted commas the right to be a little bit human. But these human beings are special. They’re under a great deal of pressure and I, as their coach, prefer that those who criticise me no matter what do so for being a bit aggressive in my statements, for seeking and pulling out the players’ hidden pride. I prefer that and gradually regain those traits that have always characterised our team, rather than being quiet and politically correct, or being nice with people but lose matches and head out in a direction that for us, the Real Madrid, would be unacceptable. That’s why now I’m optimistic, despite these 10 or 15 days, because I think the team is ready to win more, equalise less, lose only a few times and battle through till the end.