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Alonso tired of denying Real rift talk

Xabi Alonso says the Real Madrid dressing-room is not divided, and press speculation of ongoing problems is untrue.

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The current season has seen regular rumours of unrest among Madrid's players and reports of rows between coach Jose Mourinho and players including Spain internationals Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos, while the Spanish media has often talked of a split between different Spanish and Portuguese camps behind the scenes.

The midfielder told Vanity Fair that he was tired of having to deny such stories, which had no basis in reality.

"It is not divided," Alonso said. "I understand the difference between what is real and what is published. We cannot be always, all the time, denying things. We are and we should be a team, we need to remain together, because this is a team sport."

Marca journalist Sara Carbonero suggested recently that her partner, club captain Casillas, did not see eye to eye with Mourinho, but Alonso said the pair had a good working professional relationship, which was the most important thing.

"[Casillas and Mourinho] have a good professional relationship as coach and player," he said. "They do not need to go out for a drink together."

The former Liverpool player said that, in his experience, Mourinho was an excellent as a coach and particularly as a man-manager.

"As a coach he is very, very good," he said. "One of the best in the world. He has helped me grow, both personally and professionally. And he is excellent when it comes to empathising with players. I can tell you that, first hand. The daily connection, face-to-face, is where he wins you over. I am speaking of the coach-player relationship. Apart from that, I do not know."

The Portuguese coach was used to dealing with criticism, which tended to surface when results were not as expected, according to Alonso.

"He is ready - he has always lived with criticism," he said. "When results are good everything seems nicer; when they are bad, it seems all the conflicts rise up, personal disputes and problems. What is sure is that this year we are not happy because we are losing more games than we are used to."

Meanwhile, Alonso is unlikely to feature in Madrid's Primera Division game at bottom side Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday evening as he continues to manage a persistent groin problem ahead of more pressing concerns against Barcelona and Manchester United.

Centre-forward Karim Benzema is also a doubt for the weekend's trip to Riazor after he did not train with his team-mates on Thursday morning. There is, however, better fitness news for Madrid fans with left-back Marcelo and striker Gonzalo Higuain expected to be available.

With Madrid a long way off the pace in La Liga, and facing Barcelona in their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg next Tuesday, Mourinho is likely to make further changes to his side. Squad players Luka Modric, Kaka, Raul Albiol, Michael Essien, Alvaro Morata and Jose Callejon are all in line to feature. Sergio Ramos is suspended after being sent off in last weekend's 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.


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