Carlo Ancelotti has taken responsibility for Real Madrid's 2-1 defeat at Barcelona last weekend, but says he would name the same XI were the game being played tomorrow.
Ancelotti surprised everyone by starting Sergio Ramos in midfield on Saturday at the Camp Nou, while also playing Gareth Bale in a roving central attacking role, and Barca had much the better of the first half -- going into the break at 1-0 up.
Madrid improved in the second half after Ramos and Bale were withdrawn for substitutes Asier Illarramendi and Karim Benzema to play their natural roles in midfield and attack respectively, and the second period was much more evenly balanced.
The Italian coach was asked on El Partido de las 12 if he should therefore be blamed for the result.
"It could be," Ancelotti said. "In general a coach is responsible for the results of a team. When Madrid loses, the coach is the one responsible. All the problems which have occurred during this period must be resolved by the coach. I have a very good team, with very professional players, who are not causing any problems. So I can say yes [I am responsible]."
However, Ancelotti denied that it had been a mistake to play Ramos in midfield for the first time since 2005, as he had few other options for that position.
"I do not believe I made a mistake," he said. "It is true that Sergio Ramos had not played that position with me. I talked with him before making the decision. He was happy, excited to play in that position, I do not believe he played a bad game. If the game was played again tomorrow I would do the same, given the way training went the week before."
A suggestion that Madrid president Florentino Perez had mandated that Bale must start given he is Madrid's latest galactico and the match was being followed by supporters and sponsors all over the world was also rejected.
"For me Bale is a player like any other," Ancelotti said. "I believe he was a good signing for Real Madrid. Bale played because in my opinion he could play and create problems for Barcelona, just for that reason. I did not put in Benzema because I did not want the opposition defence to have a clear reference point. That is why Bale started towards the left and could change positions with [Angel] Di Maria."
Ramos and Ancelotti led claims after the game that referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco had cost Madrid the game by denying penalty claims against Javier Mascherano and Adriano Correia, with even the club website complaining loudly in its report.
The Blancos boss said neither he nor anyone from the club had accused the officials of dishonesty, and he accepted that mistakes could happen.
"I do not speak about a robbery because I do not like to think the referee did not act in good faith," Ancelotti said. "He made an error, like all the players can. The referee made a mistake in an important moment of the game, but I do not believe it was a robbery. Nobody from the club has spoken about a robbery."