Mourinho: Criticising others becoming Spain's national sport

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho insists criticising others is fast becoming the “national sport” in Spain, as his side prepare to host Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

The Blancos‘ 1-0 defeat to Real Betis last weekend saw them fall 11 points behind Barcelona at the top of the Primera Division table, casting further doubt on their title defence.

However, speaking ahead of the capital derby at the Santiago Bernabeu, the 49-year-old believes he has been harshly treated by sections of the media.

“You can applaud and whistle at me,” he told reporters at a press conference. “If you want to, I will be in the dugout at 21:00 [CET].

“Football won’t force me out just yet. I hope the fans support the team and help us win the game. Giving people stick is the national sport here, but it’s okay.”

Mourinho then hit out at critics who have overplayed the significance of Madrid’s gap behind the Blaugrana at the league summit.

I do not play for anything,” he added. “A match is meant to be enjoyed. If you win, you enjoy the experience a lot.

“If you lose, you still enjoy [being on the pitch]. We play every three days so there is not much time to be happy or sad.

“The point tally is finalised at the end of the season. People don’t have to be mathematicians to know that 14 points or eight are not the same as 11.

“They should go game by game. We always play with the intention of winning. I do not care what my players have to say.

“What I want is that, on the pitch, they all share the same mentality as me and go all out. You have to give everything. That’s better than words.”

In contrast, Atletico have built on their Europa League success last term by flying high in the Liga standings, with los Colchoneros currently in second place, and Mourinho spoke positively about his opposite number Diego Simeone.

“I have a good relationship [with Simeone],” the trainer continued. “I met him years ago when he was at Inter, and I have kept in touch with him since.

“I’m glad that things are going well for him, especially in Europe where our interests do not clash.”

Mourinho then alluded once more to the poor performance of the match referee in last week’s Liga loss to the Real Betis but hopes officiating will not overshadow the match in Madrid.

“In this game there were three teams – one that was very good and two who were bad. Tomorrow I would like to be both good and one bad,” he added.

“That being Madrid and the referee playing well and Atletico bad. But as I like football, I want us all to do well.”

The former Chelsea and Inter boss was named as one of the three finalists in the running for the Fifa Coach of the Year, along with Vicente del Bosque and Pep Guardiola, but he remained coy over his inclusion.

“I have no time to think about it,” he shrugged. “Guardiola does have time because he is on holiday. The same goes for Del Bosque, who has no match for another three months.”

'Martian' Messi will win the Ballon d'Or, believes Menotti

César Luis Menotti

César Luis Menotti / Getty

Cesar Luis Menotti has praised Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi, claiming that the 25-year-old is from another planet.

The Blaugrana star has had an outstanding 2012, breaking record after record, and is on his way to overtake Gerd Muller as the most prolific striker over the course of calendar year ever to ply his trade in Europe.

Messi is also on the final shortlist for the Ballon d’Or, and could lift the award for a record fourth time if he beats the competition of Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta.

“Messi is a Martian, it is amazing what he has accomplished,” Menotti told Radio Xarxa

“There is no discussion, Messi is the best of the three [finalists for the Ballon d’Or]. He deserves the award because of his deep commitment to the team, his solidarity, cautiousness and respectfulness.

“When a goal is scored, he runs to hug his team-mates, he will not celebrate on the podium.

He then took the time to give his take on one of the other finalists, Cristiano Ronaldo, and commented on a possible move to Barcelona for Brazilian Neymar.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is individually significant, but he is a player who plays to win the game individually. When he does not, the team plays with 10 [men].

“If Neymar understands how to play in Barcelona, he has the conditions to be an important player. If a player does not understand that, he cannot play for Barcelona.”

Essien returns to Chelsea as injury cuts Madrid jaunt short

Michael Essien’s loan spell with Real Madrid has been provisionally terminated to allow the midfielder to return to Chelsea and receive treatment for an injury which has kept him out of action since November 11.

The Ghanaian is expected to respond better to rehabilitation with the west London club who have dealt with his complex injury problems in the past.

Real’s assistant manager, Aitor Karanka, has hinted that Essien’s failure to respond to treatment in Spain is the main reason for his return to Stamford Bridge.

“Essien is not injured but is suffering from an allergic reaction to a drug,” stated Karanka at a press conference.

The 29-year-old has struggled for sustainable fitness in recent years and only managed 14 appearances for Chelsea last season. However, the Liga side are optimistic that his latest problem can be quickly resolved and he can return to Madrid in the New Year.

I have an admiration for 'winner' Mourinho, reveals Diego Simeone

Diego Simeone - Atletico Madrid

Goal.com / Shinichiro Ema

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone believes that Jose Mourinho deserves credit for his work at Real Madrid, ahead of the clash at the capital this weekend.

The Portuguese tactician has recently faced criticism from the media and fans following poor performances by his team, but the Argentine trainer is adamant Real still have the right man in charge.

“I have admiration for Mourinho,” the 42-year-old told reporters.

“He is a winner and has shown that world-wide. I went to see him one week when he was at Inter. He is a trainer that I like,” he said.

But despite the praise, Simeone said his side can secure a positive result against the La Liga title-holders on Saturday.

“We know the people are excited and we will not move away from their feelings, but we are facing a powerful team – the reigning champions.

“I look at our opponents as the players they have, and not their position in the table. I hope our team will surprise in the first 15-20 minutes.”

Simeone also dismissed claims that Atletico are a one-man team, who rely too much on Colombia striker Radamel Falcao.

“We will think of the game as a team, as we have been doing. We don’t think individually, only as a group, and ultimately that empowers the individual.”

Atletico face Real at the Santiago Bernabeu on December 1 at 22.00CET.

Villas-Boas hits back as Modric looks to lure Bale to Madrid

Andre Villas-Boas has blasted former Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric after the Croatian called on ex-team-mate Gareth Bale to join him to Real Madrid.

The 27-year-old revealed that he had spoken to Bale about his desire to one day win the Champions League, and insisted the Welshman’s presence at the Bernabeu would make Los Blancos “unstoppable”.

Modric’s comments prompted a response from Villas-Boas on Friday, with the Portuguese insisting the ex-Spurs man should focus on his commitments in La Liga instead of Bale’s future at White Hart Lane.

The 35-year-old said: “I think Modric should focus more on his club than ours.

“He has to worry about Real’s game against Atletico Madrid and about getting in to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

“Obviously Modric is aware of Gareth’s performances because of his love for Tottenham and the fact that he is very connected with him and this football club, but it’s completely impossible.”