Mourinho concedes La Liga title
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho accepts that his side's La Liga challenge is already over, and says the team must now focus on the trophies it can still win - the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.
Despite Barcelona's loss last weekend at Real Sociedad, Tito Vilanova's league leaders remain 15 points ahead of third-placed Madrid in the Primera Division standings.
Given this gap the Portuguese coach told French press agency RMC Sport that, even with 18 games remaining this season, it was already time to look to other competitions.
"La Liga is impossible now, the gap is enormous," Mourinho said. "This is a different championship to previous ones and we must focus on other objectives, like the Copa and the Champions League."
Some pundits have suggested that setting aside the league so early could allow Madrid to concentrate on achieving a fabled 'decima' or tenth European Cup, but Mourinho said it was important his players did not over-obsess about this task.
"Obsession is not good," he said. "Because obsession only makes things more difficult. It will not be easy at all. We must be relaxed and get the maximum potential out of everyone."
Few observers would use the word 'relaxed' to describe Madrid's season so far, with regular reports of Mourinho rowing with his own players, youth team coach and journalists. The Portuguese boss claimed such controversies were all media inventions and of no interest to him.
"People talk about things which do not exist," he said. "Everyday there is a new polemic against me, but there is nothing. I am a football coach, I do my job and I wait for the results. I keep doing my work and waiting patiently for the end of the season."
Madrid are at Valencia on Wednesday evening in their Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg at Mestalla, and are expected to progress having won last week's first leg 2-0 at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, and then hammered Los Che 5-0 at Mestalla in La Liga on Sunday.
Mourinho's men will likely face a tougher challenge in the Champions League, where they have been drawn against Premier League leaders Manchester United in the last 16.