MADRID - Real Madrid's players and
backroom staff have rallied behind coach Jose Mourinho by
defending the squad's morale and unity following a few below-par
The nine-times European Cup winners return to Champions
League action at home to Ajax Amsterdam on Wednesday as Group D
leaders thanks to an uninspiring 1-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb two
weeks ago which was the starting point for their dip in form.
A shock 1-0 defeat at Levante and a 0-0 draw at Racing
Santander followed and Saturday´s 6-2 battering of Rayo
Vallecano did not stop reporters asking defender Alvaro Arbeloa
on Monday about the squad's morale and its relationship with
"We are all totally united and the atmosphere is good even
after a week which has been quite difficult," Arbeloa told a
"Some of us players have come out and denied this talk of
supposed divisions or a bad atmosphere and I do so again."
There was a heated debate at Real's general assembly at the
weekend with some members accusing the outspoken Mourinho of
damaging the club's image with his behaviour.
That prompted a robust defence of the Portuguese coach from
club president Florentino Perez.
On Wednesday, Mourinho completes the last game of a
three-match ban imposed by UEFA for an outburst after last
season's notorious semi-final clash with eventual champions
"Everyone at the club is united, not just from yesterday but
they have been for a long time," said assistant coach Aitor
"We are all working in the same direction. The coach was the
first to dismiss this talk of a crisis."
Turkey midfielder Hamit Altintop has been included in a Real
squad for the first time since joining the club in the close
season and defender Ricardo Carvalho is also back after
recovering from a blow to the head he received last week.
Ajax coach Frank de Boer said he was especially looking
forward to the clash given his background as a former Barcelona
"Madrid are a great team and to win we will have to do very
well," the Dutchman said. "Mourinho is a great coach [but] he
has made mistakes, he knows that."
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