Real problems?

'Special One' risks alienating the dressing room

Last Updated: 21/09/11 7:58am

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Real Madrid were shocked 1-0 at Levante on Sunday and the typical media frenzy followed - but what interested Revista's Guillem Balague most was the reaction of manager Jose Mourinho.

"I feel like there are mixed messages and there could be a division between managers and players"
Guillem Balague Quotes of the week

An embarrassing confrontation involving several Levante players and Angel di Maria and Sami Khedira led to the latter's dismissal, prompting Mourinho to break his policy of keeping criticism of his players in-house.

With star man Cristiano Ronaldo used from the substitutes' bench having had stitches in an ankle injury, the visitors failed to find their rhythm throughout a scrappy game - eventually going down to an Arouna Kone strike.

Balague said: "It's a mistake by Khedira to act that way. They fell for Levante's tactics... but what you don't do is, in the press conference after the game as Mourinho did, say: 'I blame Khedira for what happened here.'

"You can actually do it but what's interesting is that (Real defender) Sergio Ramos was saying: 'We shouldn't blame any particular player here - it's everyone's fault that we lost.'

"I feel like there are mixed messages and there could be a division between managers and players."

Missing man

Ronaldo was on the receiving end of some heavy treatment during Real's 1-0 Champions League success at Dinamo Zagreb last week and was always doubtful to play at the Ciutat de Valencia.

That did not put a stop to a furore surrounding the Portuguese winger's omission from the starting XI, and Balague feels Mourinho may have mis-handled this issue too.

Balague continued: "It sounds like he (Mourinho) is trying to find excuses again and blame one player. He said after the game: 'I asked Ronaldo if he was ok and Ronaldo said that he wasn't ok, so I didn't play him.' Well, if that was the case, why would you play him in the second half?

"We're seeing here a series of mistakes from Mourinho. Mesut Ozil shouldn't have been on the bench because he's the most creative player they've got, Ronaldo - if he was fine - should have started as well. Then, when you take Karim Benzema off, why leave it a while before putting Gonzalo Higuain on?

"The fact that Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas have all admitted they disagree with certain things and the fact that they are all Spanish and the hardcore of the team suggests to me there is something happening there.

"There is a divide between the Spanish group and the Portuguese group. The fact that Fabio Coentrao is playing in the midfield, the fact that Angel di Maria (an Argentinian) is playing even when he's not on form and the fact that Ricardo Carvalho is playing - all that has been upsetting many people in the club."

Bright spot

One positive note for fans of Real is the news that Brazil striker Neymar - coveted by almost all of Europe's top clubs over the summer - has reportedly agreed a €60m switch to the Bernabeu.

"Neymar is going to Madrid - that's what they're saying," said Balague. "They say he's already passed a medical and at 3 o'clock in the morning they hid it from everybody because (his current club) Santos do not want to announce it publicly yet.

"The player is going to stay at Santos at least until the end of the Olympic games and then he will move to Real Madrid. He's seen as the one who can beat Lionel Messi to be the number one player in the world."

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