and they’re back!*
* although according to Mou, they were never gone.
I knew that Mourinho wouldn’t disappoint me yesterday! Plus, other news ahead of the game tonight.
One. Mou spoke to the press yesterday (watch a video here). A lot had been made of how he had closed the training sessions and canceled the player press conferences in the last two days, and so he addressed those issues, as well as some other ones.
On the “closure”: this question was the fourth one, but I had expected it to be the first. [He then brought out a sheet of paper† – the one he’s brandishing in the above picture – which was a detailed analysis of the exposure of the team to the press in the month of September and printed on official Madrid letterhead, no less.] In September, I allowed the press to view five complete training sessions, or in other words, 450 minutes. And the journalists were allowed access to 15 minutes of 10 other sessions, or 150 minutes more. In total, 600 minutes, or 10 hours that were open to the press. In addition, there were 16 press conferences, seven of mine and also those of Casillas, Cristiano, Higuaín, Xabi Alonso, Granero, Khedira, Carvalho, Arbeloa and Benzema, plus six more after games, as well as those in the mixed zone after games.
This week, which you all called “the silent week,” there were interviews, press conferences and public events with me, Benzema, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos and Pepe. Tell me, what other club does this? My intention was not to distance the team from the press. You all are privileged people.
[† knowing what a control freak he is, I’m shocked and surprised that Benzema’s name is not aligned with the others.]
On Cristiano: no player is untouchable, but right now Cristiano is untouchable because he works like no one else. He’ll score. When a team is being constructed, you need to maintain the fundamental principles, and he represents those principles… of ambition, discipline and solidarity. There are other players on the team that have those principles as well. If I only had Cristiano, I would be dead.
On the case of Pedro León: no comment.
On the Auxerre game: I was happy with the game. The Champions League is different, it’s a competition of six games and if you lose one, it makes things difficult. Auxerre had played on Saturday and that’s why I thought they would show signs of fatigue in the second half. This was the reason why I played with a more solid lineup that was better at recuperating balls and put in Özil and Di María. It worked and we won.
On the new field: it’s nice, very nice. That ugly image you saw before is no more. It will need more time to become perfect, and tomorrow the players will have difficulties. But it’ll be great in 15 days or so.
More Mou: he told Football Focus: when we arrive in any airport in the world, or even in Spain, it looks like the Beatles arriving in San Francisco in the ’60s.
And a random note: on the back of his sneakers, Mou had the flag of Portugal.
Looking ahead to the Depor game (sigh… every time they play at the Bernabéu, I get apprehensive because unwanted memories of the centenariazo surface…):
Two. Madrid trained yesterday at the unusual hour of 18h and in the unusual place of the Bernabéu, I guess to get used to the new field. The good news was that Sergio Canales, Raúl Albiol and Fernando Gago trained with the rest of the team, leaving only Kaká and Eze Garay in the sick bay. Yay! The next session will be on Tuesday at Valdebebas and will be open to the press, which is not a big deal considering that about 2/3 of the team will be missing due to international commitments.
I loved how colorful the scene was, with the players wearing shirts/vests in different colors contrasted against the backdrop of the most beautiful stadium in the world.
Three. In the call-up for the Depor game, the main surprise was the exclusion of Pedro León once again. Meanwhile, those players just coming back from injuries – Canales, Gago, Albiol – also didn’t make the cut, while canterano Juan Carlos Pérez made a third straight appearance (no playing time so far though). And Pepe returned after serving a one game suspension.
Goalkeepers: Casillas, Dudek, Adán
Defenders: Sergio, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Pepe, Carvalho, Mateos
Midfielders: Granero, Lass, Diarrá, Xabi Alonso, Di María, Özil, Khedira, Juan Carlos
Forwards: Higuaín, Cristiano, Benzema
Four. And Mou in the press conference let us know who would form the starting 11: Iker, Sergio, Pepe, Carvalho, Marcelo, Khedira, Xabi, Özil, Di María, Cris and Pipita.
This will be the first time that Mou has repeated a starting line-up this season (in this, the eighth game between all competitions), due to injuries (Sergio, Carvalho) or sanctions (Pepe). This eleven also started the Real Sociedad game.
I hope that despite this, the team is learning how to play together.
Five. Picture via Marca. As (the majority of) his teammates boarded the team bus to the Mirasierra Suites after the training session at the stadium, Pedro León waited at this door to be taken to his car in the parking lot. Pobrecito.
Six. And congrats to Rafa van der Vaart for his two goals yesterday, which helped Tottenham defeat Aston Villa 2-1.