Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has again played down reports of dressing-room disharmony, stressing that he has no problems with defender Sergio Ramos.
Ramos was dropped for Madrid’s Champions League opener at home to Manchester City, and Mourinho has since claimed the Spain international defender’s form has been below par this season.
Speaking before Wednesday evening’s Champions League group game at Ajax, Mourinho insisted he had no personal issues with the defender or anyone else in his squad.
“My relationship with my wife is much better than with Sergio Ramos,” he said. “It is the same as my relationship with [Alvaro] Arbeloa or any other player. You would have to ask Ramos, not me. I have no problems with him.”
On Tuesday, the Spanish sports daily Marca published photos showing that Ramos had played the second half of Sunday’s 5-1 La Liga win over Deportivo la Coruna wearing Mesut Ozil’s jersey under his own, apparently as a gesture of solidarity after the German playmaker had been withdrawn by Mourinho at half-time.
Ramos then tweeted that if he had scored he had planned to dedicate the goal to Ozil, but added that he had no problem with his coach’s decisions.
However, immediately after playing in his less favoured position of right-back against Depor, Ramos had stressed to reporters at the Estadio Bernabeu that he was a good professional and that he always played at his top level.
When that quote was put to Mourinho at Tuesday’s press conference, the ex-Chelsea boss said only: “I agree that he is a great professional.” He also suggested that Ozil had been below his best so far this season and might not start against Ajax.
“It is a game I will play with those who give me the most guarantees,” he explained. “I have [Sami] Khedira’s injury, and I do not know if he can play. The others are ready, some played two days ago. I will go out with a team without thinking of our next game (Sunday’s La Liga Clasico at Barcelona), just to win.”
Mourinho said his side’s recent results showed that the players were pulling together. “My team are all going in the same direction,” he said.
“We have won three games in a row. Against Manchester City with a special comeback, against Rayo Vallecano it was difficult to play but we knew how to win, and against Deportivo, losing 0-1, we wanted to win and we came back,” he said.
This is the third consecutive year Madrid have faced Ajax in their Champions League group, with the Spanish side having had few problems against them. But Mourinho said he was not taking this year’s game lightly, and had travelled to Amsterdam last Saturday to see Ajax win 1-0 against FC Twente on Saturday.
“Instead of staying at home and playing golf or watching the television, I prefer to see it in person,” he said. “You see it better than on video. Ajax have changed players, but the philosophy is the same. It will be a different game than other times here.”