If, as many believe, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho is on his way out – he is not about to go quietly.
Even a call from club president Florentino Perez for unity has gone unheeded as the Special One continues to speak his mind.
After some unsavoury sniping between Mourinho and members of his squad in recent weeks, Perez made a rare foray into the limelight on Monday when he called for the club to be ‘united for the fans’ as they prepare for this month’s King’s Cup final against city rivals Atletico Madrid.
“His problem has a name: Raphael Varane. It’s not easy for a man of 31 years, with status and history, to be trampled over by a kid of 19”
Real manager Jose Mourinho’s views on Pepe
Mourinho raised eyebrows on Friday when he made a thinly veiled attack on goalkeeper Iker Casillas, whom he has dropped in favour of Diego Lopez, prompting club heavyweights Sergio Ramos and Pepe to speak out in support of their captain.
However, at a press conference on Tuesday, Mourinho made it clear he was not going to let matters lie. Especially when it came to Pepe.
“You just have to be a normal person like me or like almost everyone in this room to know that we are talking about frustration,” he said.
“His problem has a name: Raphael Varane. It’s not easy for a man of 31 years, with status and history, to be trampled over by a kid of 19.
“But that’s the law of life. On a sporting level Pepe’s life has changed.
“I have no problem with him. I understand that it’s not an easy situation but I have to try to be honest and I think that there are very few people who don’t think that the future of Real Madrid in defence is Varane with Sergio Ramos.”
The sense that all is not well has been heightened by speculation that Mourinho is poised to leave at the end of the season and the outspoken Portuguese has said little to contradict reports he is on his way back to Chelsea.
Interim Chelesa manager Rafael Benitez said on Tuesday he expected to be replaced by Mourinho.
Benitez reiterated he would be leaving Stamford Bridge as planned at the end of the season having signed a short-term contract to take charge in November following the sacking of Roberto di Matteo.
“The next year there will be another manager,” said Benitez.
“I think everybody knows who will be here,” the Spaniard said in a clear reference to Mourinho.
Asked about his relationship with Casillas, Mourinho reiterated that he believed Lopez, who was brought in ostensibly as cover when Casillas broke a bone in his hand in January, was the better keeper.
Casillas has been Real and Spain keeper for more than a decade and is a hero to fans of the club and the national team.
“I don’t do it by flipping a coin. I do it after discussion and lengthy analysis of my decisions… For me, I like Diego Lopez better as a goalkeeper than Iker Casillas.”
“Let’s see if you understand it once and for all, I am a soccer coach,” Mourinho told reporters.
“They hired me to be a soccer coach and a soccer coach has certain responsibilities, one of which is to pick the team.
“I don’t do it by flipping a coin. I do it after discussion and lengthy analysis of my decisions.
“For me, I like Diego Lopez better as a goalkeeper than Iker Casillas. I don’t do it to harm anyone.
“I accept it if someone says that Casillas is better than Diego Lopez but you have to accept that I am the coach of Real Madrid.”
Mourinho, who almost walked out of the news conference after repeated problems with the sound system, was again asked about his future at Real, where he has a contract until June 2016, and whether he was trying to provoke the club into sacking him so he could pocket a substantial payoff.
“So that there is absolutely no doubt, I want to say that I will earn a salary until the final day I work for Real Madrid,” he said.
“I don’t want a single euro more.”
If defending champions Real fail to beat Malaga on Wednesday, leaders Barcelona will have an unassailable lead and will secure their fourth La Liga title in five years.