Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho says he is to blame for his team’s “dreadful” start to the season, ahead of Tuesday’s testing Champions League Group D opener against Manchester City.
The Madrid coach was again harshly critical of his side after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Sevilla – a result that leaves his side in 11th place and eight points behind Barcelona after only four games.
However, despite his side’s run of poor form Mourinho has accepted full responsibility for his players’ bad attitude in recent games. “I am the one responsible for this dreadful start to the season,” Mourinho said. “I have not been able to create a committed group, I have not ensured that football was the biggest priority in the life of the players.
“Now I am obliged to make a team which can be as close as possible to that of last year or the year before. In football there is only today and tomorrow, never yesterday, nor the titles won. There is no doubt who is responsible. In my teams, if we win, we do it together, and if we lose, I am the one responsible.”
Mourinho, who said on Saturday in Sevilla that “he had no team” in that game, is sure his players will show up against City.
“I am convinced that tomorrow we will have a team that will be together, that everyone will want to work for each other, that everyone will give their all,” he said. “Maybe we will lack a little confidence and self-esteem, because it is not easy to play against ‘el City’ after having played an awful game. I could be wrong, but I believe we will be at our best.”
The Portuguese coach said he had no comment on how the Bernabeu crowd would receive Cristiano Ronaldo in the Portuguese attacker’s first home game since revealing his current professional “sadness”.
“I do not want to talk about individuals,” he said. “I believe I know how the crowd will receive the team, but not player A, B or C.” The former Chelsea man sees Tuesday’s clash with the expensively-assembled English champions as an opportunity for Madrid’s stars to make amends for their poor recent showing.
“The game comes at the best moment,” he said. “We played great in the Supercopa (against Barcelona) and we have had a dreadful start in the championship, with very negative games. Maybe we need a very difficult game. City are now among the group of big, important teams. They are candidates to win the Champions League.”
Madrid’s two summer signings from the Premier League, Luka Modric and Michael Essien, are rumoured to be in contention to start against City, but Mourinho suggested he would keep changes to his starting line-up to a minimum.
“I am not going to make seven changes,” he said. “It will not be a very different line-up (from Sevilla). I do not want to signal that a player is not in good form. It will be the team I consider best against an opponent of the highest level.”
With Real already falling well behind Barcelona in the title race some in Madrid have suggested it is time to concentrate on winning a tenth European Cup trophy. Mourinho stated that would not happen.
“A team like Madrid cannot aspire to just one competition, say I want this one but not that one,” he said. “You can lose, but not like that. The Champions League motivates me like La Liga and Man City like Getafe.”