Casillas: Mourinho 'best coach in world'
Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas says he knows his side's fans are hurting at the moment, but criticism of coach Jose Mourinho after recent poor performances is unfair given all he has achieved at the club.
The Madrid goalkeeper told reporters that the same people whistling Mourinho during Tuesday's routine 3-0 Copa del Rey victory over third tier Alcoyano were those who had been cheering last May as the La Liga crown was reclaimed from Barcelona for the first time in four years.
"I am philosophical about it," Casillas said. "Just a few months ago, the whistles were applause and praise when we won the league. People in football have short memories. A few months ago we were La Liga champions, with a record number of goals and points. The good moments must be remembered, and the continuity of this project. Not long ago, the team was renewed. A very young team grew together and won the Copa del Rey (in 2011). We have won the league, the Supercopa too. Now we do not want to stop, we must go further."
Critics of the Portuguese coach were being "unfair", Casillas claimed.
"It could be that people are being unfair on the boss," he said. "A big part of Madrid's success is down to him. The problem is that as the best coach in the world people demand a lot of him. (The players) have full confidence in him. He has given us a lot."
Casillas said that he nevertheless could understand Blancos fans frustration at the moment, given last weekend's 0-1 loss at Real Betis leaves Madrid eleven points behind Barcelona and eight behind city-rivals Atletico in the Primera Division standings.
"This is not a moment to be happy," he said. "We know that Madridistas are hurting. Madrid should be higher up the table. We have had problems and I will not speak about referees, injuries or bad luck. We should be in the group with Atletico and Barcelona. The public ask a lot of the players and that is good. We want to put Madrid where it deserves to be."
Saturday's city derby against Atletico at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu could be a turning point in their season, according to the Madrid-native.
"It is an emotional game that the fans are looking forward to," he said. "(Atletico) are coming at a good moment for them, but for us it is a vital game. We must win and then keep hoping. Until the end of the year we must win all our games. The things we have not done well over these four months we must start doing well now."
Since coming on as a late substitute in Atletico's last Bernabeu win in 1999, Casillas has not lost any of his 23 derbies, but said that Diego Simeone's current side were a different proposition.
"It is a different derby than previous years as Atletico are coming very strong," he said. "We are going into the game with the idea of cutting the gap to five points. They are playing well. The signing of Simeone was a good one. He has changed the atmosphere there. They are a very strong opponent and it will be a very good game. I hope we can get the win, which would be very important."
The Spanish international captain said nobody at Madrid was counting Atletico out of the title race - which made a win on Saturday all the more important.
"We are not just thinking about Barcelona, but also Atletico," he said. "We must cut the distance as soon as possible. Anything can happen in these games. In recent years we have had the fortune not to know defeat, but a draw is no good to us. Thinking of anything which is not a victory is going down the wrong path."