• Champions League

Mourinho labelled 'cowardly'

ESPN staff
April 3, 2013
Jose Mourinho has endured a difficult relationship with the Madrid local press © Getty Images

A Spanish radio journalist accused of hypocrisy and bias by Jose Mourinho says the Real Madrid manager's actions during an official UEFA press conference on Tuesday were out of place and "cowardly".

Mourinho, who now rarely speaks to the local media in Madrid, was on duty at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu ahead of Wednesday evening's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Galatasaray.

'The Special One' was clearly irked by a series of not unexpected questions about why he had not recalled Iker Casillas to his squad despite the Blancos captain having returned to fitness. He then responded to a subsequent question from Fernando Burgos, about Madrid having conceded in each of their last seven games, by reading from a piece of paper he had brought with him.

"I have some words of yours from a few years back," Mourinho said, while looking at Burgos. "You said 'X player was in the team by decree. A coach who concedes this privilege harms the player. A player cannot be an automatic starter due to his status. You cannot put together line-ups due to previous prizes.' ... I will leave it at that as everyone knows you are not impartial in your analysis."

The experienced Burgos, who covers Real Madrid for Onda Cero, can be seen as relatively objective compared to many in the Madrid-backing media, although he is generally closer to Casillas than to Mourinho.

The journalist told AS afterwards that he felt Mourinho's words had been unfair, and were out of place in a press conference before an important Madrid game.

"It seemed a bit cowardly to me," Burgos said. "I am not the protagonist here, he is always the protagonist. He likes to be up above everyone else. The most pitiful thing is that today, instead of giving an answer about Galatasaray, he said something I am supposed to have said years ago.

"To take out a sheet of paper with declarations from a journalist... I do not get called on to ask questions [at press conferences] as he does not like my questions. But today he had everything ready. When I speak, I speak as a journalist, not as a friend of anyone, not Iker Casillas or Xabi Alonso."

The relationship between Casillas and Mourinho is widely assumed to be toxic in Spain, although both men claim in public they get along fine. In January, Marca journalist Sara Carbonero, who is also Casillas' partner, told Mexican TV that the Madrid dressing-room was divided and suggested Mourinho would leave in the summer.

In December, Marca radio reporter Anton Meana, another who has been critical of Mourinho's handling of Casillas, claimed Mourinho invited him into a private area of the Bernabeu press facility to say: "In the world of football me and my coaches are 'top', while in the world of journalism you are a s***." Club president Florentino Perez at that point tried to heal the relationship between the coach and the local media, with little success.

Many in Spain are now waiting to see when - or if - 'San Iker' is returned to Madrid's starting line-up. Mourinho said after last Saturday's 1-1 La Liga draw at Real Zaragoza that current first choice Diego Lopez was playing too well to be dropped, but Casillas would be in the squad for Levante's visit to the Bernabeu this weekend.

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