VALENCIA - Real Madrid coach Jose
Mourinho has responded to criticism of his tactics from honorary
club president Alfredo Di Stefano by pointing out he is the one
who makes the decisions about the way the team plays.
The 84-year-old Di Stefano, who won five consecutive
European Cups with Real between 1956 and 1960, made scathing
remarks about Mourinho's strategy of instructing his players to
sit back against Barcelona in Saturday's 1-1 La Liga draw at the
Bernabeu and try to catch the league leaders on the break.
"He is one of the most significant people in the history of
Real Madrid and I am nothing in the history of Real Madrid,"
Mourinho told a news conference at Valencia's Mestalla stadium
where Wednesday's Kings Cup final with Barca will be played.
"But I am the coach and the coach is the one who decides.
"I am the coach," he repeated. "What do you want to do? It's
me. The decisions are mine."
In his Monday newspaper column, Di Stefano described Barca
as a lion toying with a mouse and called for different tactics
in Wednesday's final, the second game in a four-match sequence
of "Clasico" confrontations to be played over 18 days.
"Saturday's game should give pause for thought on how to
face up to the next because trying to play Barcelona on the
break clearly isn't the most adequate," Di Stefano wrote.
"Barca treat the ball with respect, adoration, they almost
pamper it. To watch this team in action is a delight.
"Barca play football and dance, Real just dashed from here
to there constantly. It's clear that Barcelona are superior.
Real were a team without personality."
Di Stefano's criticism of Real's playing style and his
florid praise for their arch rivals carries extra weight given
his celebrated status within the club.
However, Mourinho gave no indication he was about to change
tack and deploy a more attacking formation on Wednesday.
Gone were the days when Real had six players doing all the
work at the back and four forwards who were not expected to muck
in and help defend, the Portuguese said.
"I know that this will be a problem for many of you," he
said. "But I think that the fans, although they are not
professionals, are opening their eyes little by little and
that's why they'll be behind their team tomorrow."
Barca and Real also meet in the semi-finals of the Champions
League, with the first leg at the Bernabeu in Madrid on April 27
and the second leg at the Nou Camp in Barcelona on May 3.
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