Valdano backs Real coach after Copa exit
Real Madrid director general Jorge Valdano says that the club have full confidence in coach Manuel Pellegrini despite their humiliating exit from the Copa del Rey at the hands of third-tier Alcorcon on Tuesday night.
The nine-times European champions won the second leg 1-0 at home in front of around 80,000 fans but still lost 4-1 on aggregate to the tiny Segunda B team, who play in the same division as Real's youth side, in the last 32.
"I understand the mood of the fans and their emotions but the club cannot act on emotions," Valdano told Spanish TV after some supporters had chanted for Pellegrini to quit. "We remain calm. There is absolute confidence in the coach. We know we have to keep working intensively and with humility so we don't suffer any more surprises of this nature."
Chants of "Pellegrini quit" rang out around the Bernabeu for around 20 seconds when the Chilean took off midfielder Lassana Diarra in the second half and replaced him with defender Marcelo. The coach dodged questions about his future and said he took Diarra off because the player had missed a week's training recently for family reasons and he did not want to risk him getting injured.
"Of course being knocked out of the King's Cup by a side from Segunda B cannot be considered a success," Pellegrini told reporters. "We are in the middle of a campaign I am sure will end on a successful note, whatever has happened here today. I am thinking more about the team than myself."
Earlier on Tuesday president Florentino Perez played down the club's trophy expectations this season.
"Our dream is to build a spectacular team but it would not be a failure if we didn't win a title," Perez told Spanish television station Cuatro. "We are at the start of a new project. We are giving it stability. We aren't going to get nervous because it hasn't all come together perfectly in the first year."
Perez's return in June for a second spell as president set in motion a €250 million reconstruction programme that brought in players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema. Alcorcon operate on a budget of just over € one million, some 400 times smaller than Real's.
"Beating Real Madrid is a dream come true and there is a nice party going on right now in the dressing room. I think we deserve it," Alcorcon coach Juan Antonio Anquela said. "The players made an incredible effort and I want to thank them publicly for that."
It is the second year in a row Real have been humbled by a Segunda B side in the Cup after Real Union beat them at the same stage last season. The only other top-flight sides to lose to lower league opposition were Tenerife, who fell 3-1 on aggregate to second division Celta Vigo, and Sporting Gijon who lost a penalty shootout against second division Recreativo Huelva.
Holders Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla swept aside their Segunda B opponents to progress.
Barcelona put five past Cultural Leonesa on the night to win 7-0 on aggregate, with Bojan Krkic's double opening the floodgates at the Nou Camp.
Argentina midfielder Maxi Rodriguez netted four as Atletico completed an aggregate 8-0 rout of Marbella, and Sevilla substitute Jose Carlos bagged two as they beat Atletico Ciudad 9-3 on aggregate.
Ten-man Valencia hung on to draw 2-2 at home against Segunda B side Alcoyano to go through 3-2 overall, and Villarreal edged past another third-tier side Puertollano 2-1 on aggregate thanks to a late goal from Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi. Deportivo Coruna, Malaga and Osasuna also made the last 16.