Madrid – Jose Mourinho was let down by a self-centred and “immature” dressingroom, according to Real Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa.
Arbeloa, one of the few Real Madrid players who still supports the Chelsea-bound Portuguese coach, said: “Mourinho gave everything. He always put the club first and sometimes his image was affected by that. I am not sure everyone else, players included, can say the same.”
Speaking after Mourinho's last game in charge of Real – a 4-2 win over Osasuna on Saturday – Arbeloa said: “A lot of us (players) were worried we might look bad in the media. We worried about having a good public image and we always spoke for our own benefit.
“There is a good group of players here and we all have a good relationship but perhaps we lacked maturity at times. This coach has won wherever he has gone and it is strange that here, where he had the best squad he has ever had, is where he has won the least.”
The comments appeared to be aimed at the players who have picked public fights with Mourinho. Speaking after the Osasuna match, the departing Real coach suggested Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Iker Casillas had all ruled themselves out of the last game of the season.
Mourinho left as many as 10 first-team players out of his final squad but strongly hinted after the game that while some players were declared unfit by medical staff, others took it upon themselves to sit the match out.
He told Spanish television station Intereconomia: “The players not in the team had either been declared injured by club doctors, or had declared themselves injured. Pepe, Cristiano and Casillas all ruled themselves out with back pain. They did not train all week and they did not train very well last week either.”
Arbeloa added: “With the new coach we have to be united with everyone helping each other.”
Mourinho divided Real supporters as much as players and on his last day some banners at the Bernabeu read: “We love you Mourinho” and “Forgive them, they don't know what they do”, while others said: “Thanks for nothing” and “Never come back”.
He found himself at the centre of trouble in England yesterday, too, as the Premier League was forced to apologise to Chelsea for a story which appeared to confirm him as the club's new manager was published on its website yesterday. The article, headlined “Jose Mourinho makes Chelsea return”, has since been removed from the premierleague.com website. A League spokesman said the article had been published by mistake.
“It was a publishing error. We took it down as soon as we were notified of it, and we've spoken to and apologised to Chelsea,” he said. The article said the Portuguese coach was “back at Stamford Bridge after signing a XX-year contract”, and the League admitted it had been prepared in anticipation of a possible announcement. – The Independent