Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has warned his players that anyone who does not treat each game with the utmost seriousness will find themselves out of the team.
Madrid have made an inconsistent start to the new season, putting in unimpressive performances while taking just four points from their first three La Liga matches but raising their game to defeat Barcelona in the Spanish Supercopa.
In an interview published in Friday’s edition of Spanish sports newspaper AS, Mourinho said that players who picked and chose when to perform would be in for a shock when bigger matches came around.
“I will tell my players that you cannot just be at your best for a certain game or against a certain opponent,” Mourinho said. “To be at our best in the Champions League we must also be at our best in La Liga and in the Copa del Rey. This means each game does not just have one objective, to win, but also to look for improvement and progress.
“If I detect that someone does not understand that – for example if someone holds back in La Liga thinking about the Champions League – they will get a surprise and not play the Champions League.”
The ex-Chelsea boss said that his side’s patchy start to the season was more likely due to the players’ international commitments this summer rather than anyone resting on their laurels after winning last season’s Spanish title.
“The inconsistent start of La Liga I blame more on the efforts of this summer at the Euros,” he said. “You must have a little patience, although I do not like my players thinking I am a patient coach in case they relax.
“All the teams with a lot of internationals at Euro 2012 or the Olympics could have begun the season better – Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona, Porto, Benfica… Almost all the big teams who have not been able to have a complete pre-season are having difficulties.”