Madrid, May 8 (IANS) Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho sent out a clear message to former captain Iker Casillas that he will not be first choice keeper at the club while he is there.
Casillas has had to be content with a place on the bench after recovering from the hand injury he suffered at the end of January with Diego Lopez, who was brought in to cover for Casillas, starting every game, reports Xinhua.
The captain of the Spanish international team, Casillas is, however, an icon for Real Madrid fans and there is speculation that there is a poor relationship between the goalkeeper and the manager.
While denying that is the case for Casillas’ extended spell on the sidelines, Mourinho made it clear in a press conference held ahead of Wednesday’s game to Malaga, that he will not be making any changes.
“I don’t have a problem with him, but I like Diego Lopez more and I have the right to say that. While I am Real Madrid coach, Diego Lopez will always play,” said Mourinho.
Most people believe that Mourinho will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season and he was even photographed Monday supposedly buying packing crates in a store in Madrid, but when asked about his future, Mourinho, who has a contract until the end of June 2015, said he had thought about staying.
“I feel good and I feel normal and relaxed,” he insisted, before returning to the question of Casillas.
“I am a football coach and as such I have a job to do and part of that job is to decide who plays… I like Diego Lopez more as a keeper than Casillas, I am not doing this to prejudice anyone, but I like Diego more. He comes out for crosses well, he is good with his feet, he dominates his area. It is legitimate that under normal circumstances that I would choose Lopez,” said Mourinho.
The coach was criticised by central defender Pepe, after Madrid’s 4-3 win at home to Valladolid Saturday, Pepe said Casillas deserved respect and appears to have paid for those comments by being left out of the squad to face Malaga.
Mourinho said his absence was not a punishment.
“I don’t have any problem with him, I understand that it is not an easy situation, but I have to be honest and the fact is that there can be very few people who think other than that the future of the Madrid defence is (Rafael) Varene and Sergio Ramos,” said the coach.