Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has questioned the recent widespread criticism of Jose Mourinho in Spain, reminding fans and journalists that they were happy to ignore his behaviour when Real Madrid were winning.
Recent months have seen the Madrid based media, in particular sports dailies AS and Marca, take an increasingly hard line on Mourinho, including some very heavy criticism of his both his professional and personal behaviour, which has included rows with Madrid reserve team coach Alberto Toril, goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Marca journalist Anton Meana.
Pique told journalists after training at Barcelona's Ciutat Deportiva on Monday morning that he felt the storm of criticism had more to do with Madrid losing games on the pitch than any moral stance taken by the journalists.
"It makes me laugh because I remember that when Madrid won, Mourinho was allowed do anything," Pique said. "He came here and poked Tito in the eye. How many games was he banned for? Zero. Now that Mourinho is taking on Iker, that he locked up a journalist [to yell at him], there is criticism. Mourinho has always been like this, ever since he arrived. He was allowed do anything."
Pique also included Catalan papers such as Mundo Deportivo and Sport in his comments, saying that he did not think the media should just be a cheerleader for 'their' team.
"I do not think the press should act like this," he said. "I am just saying this for Barcelona, but also for Madrid. Barca do not do everything well. But if you look at the front pages of Mundo Deportivo and Sport, it seems like the club does everything well. I say the same for both sides, for Madrid and for Barcelona."
Pique also believes that injuries and suspensions were to blame for Madrid's 0-0 draw at Osasuna on Saturday night, not bad coaching from Mourinho or a bad attitude from the players.
"It did not look to me like Madrid had thrown in La Liga," he said. "They went without four or five very important players. I believe they had the right attitude. Madrid have never based their game on playing great football. They have intensity and ambition. They 'eat up' their opponent. You could see they missed their injured players."
Barcelona took advantage of Madrid's latest stumble to open up an 18 point gap on their rivals with Sunday's 3-1 in Malaga, a game which completed a first half of the La Liga season with 18 wins and one draw in 19 games.
Pique said it was impossible to really say whether Tito Vilanova's Barca side were better than that of Pep Guardiola in recent seasons, and anyway this year's side had won nothing yet.
"There will be opinions for every taste," he said. "I think we are playing really well. We have been at our most comfortable in these last games. But what counts is trying to win the three trophies (La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League). That is what we did with Pep (in 2008-09) and we will try to do it with Tito."
Pique also suggested that the current Barca team had more tactical options than in previous seasons.
"We can play in various ways," he said. "Tito has gone with more midfielders in the last games. The first year we won the treble we had a settled team, but I feel this year the team has more options. This year we have a very competitive squad."
Such flexibility would be useful as Barca face into a busy spell, starting with Wednesday's Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg at home to Malaga.
"The Copa del Rey and the Champions League will help us keep our rhythm going," he added. "We are starting into Copa, Liga, Copa, and it will be non-stop. It is best for us to play every three days than every weekend. That everyone plays is very good for the team."