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Dec 3, 2012

Mourinho tight-lipped over exit rumours

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has declined to answer questions about his future at the club, saying media speculation that he would leave next summer was irrelevant as he prepared his team for Tuesday's Champions League game against Ajax.

Spanish sports daily Marca claimed on Monday that Madrid president Florentino Perez was fed up with Mourinho's constant rows with his players, the club's hierarchy, the press and now fans, and had decided to make a change in the summer regardless of whether Madrid win their long sought-after tenth European crown.

Mourinho told reporters on Monday that he was more concerned with talking about the Ajax match than responding to rumours about his relationship with Perez.

"Ask him," he said. "I do not have to tell you what I talk about with the president. My relationship with him is good, as I have said before.

"I have no problems, but I am not going to keep feeding this situation. I am stepping back from the argument. For me, this is not news. My future is that tomorrow is my 101st game in the Champions League."

He added: "I am not going to speak about this. Speak to your colleague about it, the one who has written the story. Organise a meal with that person. I'm not saying a single word."

Mourinho said he had no interest in speculation over Paris Saint-Germain - other than as a potential opponent in the next round of the competition - and that he appreciated recent praise from Sir Alex Ferguson but did not think there would be a vacancy at Manchester United any time soon.

He reacted with frustration to a further question about whether Cristiano Ronaldo's match-winning performance in the 2-0 derby victory over Atletico had lifted the Portugal international's recent "sadness".

"Do you not have more interest in who will play tomorrow?" he asked. "That seems more interesting to me than asking about who is happy or who is not happy. That is what I think."

The coach revealed that Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos would not play against Ajax in order to avoid picking up yellow cards that would rule them out of the first leg of Madrid's second-round clash. Captain Iker Casillas will also be rested.

Reserve goalkeeper Antonio Adan is set to start, with young defender Nacho in place of the suspended Alvaro Arbeloa at right-back. Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Sami Khedira will play, Mourinho said, with 17-year-old Jose Rodriguez, 20-year-old Alvaro Morata and 21-year-old Denis Cheryshev on the bench.

But he said that did not mean Madrid would take Ajax lightly, with the Dutch champions looking for a win that would guarantee progression to the Europa League knockout stages ahead of Manchester City.

"Every game has the same importance for me," Mourinho said. "We must play with the same intensity, aggression and personality. We must play at the very best of our ability to win it. Sometimes there are problems - the opponent can play well, or we can play not so well. We lack that consistency, and must find it."

He also said he considered finishing second in Group D a success, and that the level of competition faced so far could hurt Madrid further on in the Champions League.

"I think it is a success to qualify from this group, as a great team [City], a candidate to win the competition, are out," Mourinho explained.

"The two who qualify are successes, given the big risk of being knocked out. We have played great games, very demanding games, which is good for the fans, but a problem is that you pick up yellow cards while other teams who qualify easier can control things better."

There was, however, a recognition that Madrid had not been at their best so far this season, and needed to aspire to the levels they showed last year.

"I like emotional consistency," he said. "First of all, that is what I like. I have good players, a team with a style of play which is perfectly defined.

"Sometimes we have lost that identity. The emotional aspect is important, while injuries to important players have not helped us either. We want to try to finish the year as well as possible, end the group phase well and not lose any more points in the league."

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