Mourinho: We need to bounce back
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has called on his team to show their motivation and desire as they look to Tuesday's Champions League group opener at home to Manchester City to get back on track after a poor start to the new season.
Madrid's troubles in La Liga continued with a 1-0 loss in Sevilla on Saturday, leaving them eight points behind rivals Barcelona in the title race.
The Spanish title holders' may have the best tradition and trophy haul in European football, but Mourinho told UEFA.com that did not guarantee success this year.
"Naturally, Real Madrid is a Champions League club because of its history and record," Mourinho said. "Nobody else has nine of those European Cups. I think there is no direct way to find this type of success. It comes by working well, playing well and thinking well, planning well and having the motivation and desire to win every game. Apart from that football is football, some things are unforeseeable. It is one of the few sports where the best team does not always win."
Last season Real won all six games in the group stages to sail through to the knock-out stages, but Mourinho said a similar easy passage was unlikely given the strength of this year's group - which also includes Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.
"We are talking about a group with four champions in it - four champions from four important countries," Mourinho said. "You have the champions of England, Germany and Spain and Ajax are an important team in European football history. Obviously the main objective is not winning all six games, but to qualify. After that, we will try for first place, but it is clear that points will be divided among the teams in the group."
Mourinho, who said he felt "sadness" after losing to Bayern Munich in last season's semi-finals, preferred to stress the progress made during his term in charge rather than a need for Madrid to claim a longed-for 'decima' or the club's tenth European Cup.
"When I arrived at Real Madrid, the club were not even seeded in the draw - that said a lot," he said. "I think Madrid were tenth in the ranking. Now we are after reaching back-to-back semi-finals. We have recovered that status as a seeded team and we obviously want to maintain it. Hopefully we will reach the final. We will do everything to capture Madrid's tenth European Cup."
The versatility of Real's summer signings - Luka Modric and Michael Essien - would help with this, said Mourinho.
"We have decided to work with a relatively small squad, and therefore it was important to have a lot of multi-functional players, who can play in different positions, and give us the balance and stability that we need," he said. "With Modric we have seen this. He can play as a number 6, 8 or 10. He is a player with quality and a particular type of magic that great talents possess. That is why we wanted him."
"Essien is a player I know very well," added Mourinho. "His experience can bring a certain balance we need in a defensive midfield position as well as all defensive positions, where he can play perfectly as well."