Mourinho questions squad as Madrid fail to fire
Trailing Barcelona in the Spanish league and facing elimination in the Copa del Rey, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho is questioning the will and attitude of one of the most talented and highest paid squads in football.
Mourinho was scathing in his criticism of his players after Madrid's drab performance in its 2-1 loss at Celta Vigo in the Copa on Wednesday.
"There are players who have disappointed me," said Mourinho. "(Some) didn't want to play because it was cold, raining and (only) a Copa match."
It was Madrid's sixth loss in 26 games in all competitions this season, one more than it lost in 58 games in all of last season, and the same number of defeats Madrid had in Mourinho's first campaign in 2010-11.
Mourinho said he should have included youth-team player Alvaro Morata on his squad because "he is still inexperienced but he has ambition and wants to give it his all."
The Portuguese manager also applauded little-used defender Raphael Varane, who Mourinho said "played like a winner because he played hurt and stayed on the pitch and did more than some players who were fully fit."
Cristiano Ronaldo's 86th-minute goal saved Madrid from a greater loss against a Celta team that was promoted this season. It will host Celta in the second leg of its round-of-16 Copa tie on January 9.
As defending league champion, Madrid is in third place and 11 points adrift of Barcelona in the standings before hosting last-place Espanyol on Sunday.
All of Madrid's losses this season have come away from home. Madrid has lost three of its eight away games in the league; at Getafe, Sevilla and Real Betis. It also fell at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and at Barcelona in the Spanish Supercup.
"We are in a difficult moment and are finding it tough to win on the road," said Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa. "It is time for some self-criticism."