Mourinho's home run fails to silence critics

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The Independent Football

One of the longest standing unbeaten runs in history enters another phase today when Jose Mourinho's eight and half year roll of 136 home games without defeat receives its first test at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu.

"I don't play for records, if we are drawing I will take risks to win. It is a nice record but I am not obsessed," he said ahead of the visit of Jose Camacho's Osasuna. The visitors' coach knows all about the difficulties of managing Madrid – he was Real boss for six games before quitting because of player power in September 2004.

"Mourinho will not let anyone interfere" said Camacho of his rival, who yesterday described him as one of the few honest men in football. "The game is so full of hypocrites" Mourinho added when asked about Camacho.

Real need to improve on an opening day goalless draw away to Mallorca, made to look even worse by Barcelona's convincing 3-0 win against Racing Santande and Mourinho has already bitten back at impatient critics. "Let me say this loudly, so it sinks in," he said. "Barça are a finished product. I am here to compete against a team that is a finished product."

Reminded yesterday that supporters would not be happy with a scrappy 1-0 win, he replied: "And are they happy with that at Stamford Bridge or at the San Siro? Is it only at the Bernabeu where they demand more? I don't know any supporters of any big clubs that settle for less. It is nothing new for me."

The need to win well has been boosted by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo who missed his country's recent European Championship qualifiers with an ankle problem and was originally expected to be out for a further two weeks. Yesterday Mourinho confirmed that he would start and naming nine of his first XI he also confirmed former that former Chelsea centre-back Ricardo Carvalho will make his home debut.



Real's pre-match sleepover fails to find favour in Barcelona

Real Madrid players joined up last night in the city's Mirasierra Suites hotel as another facet of Mourinho's iron regime kicked in. Last season players turned-up for home games on matchdays but they must now spend the night before together. The hotel in question has been asked to leave only water in the mini-bars of players' rooms and calling room service is forbidden. Pep Guardiola continues to allow his Barcelona players to spend the night before home games with their families. "I think they get bored spending too much time in hotel together... I certainly do," he said. Barcelona face Hercules tonight immediately before Mourinho's home debut.



Benitez holds his own as Milan's famous five are lauded

"Milan favourites? That is what they said before the Champions League final against my Liverpool in Istanbul, and again at half-time, but for some reason it turned out differently." That was Rafa Benitez's response yesterday when asked about Milan being favourites to clean up in Italy this season.

Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are set to make their debuts away to Cesena today and along with Pato, Filippo Inzaghi and Ronaldinho, Milan's fantastic five boast 942 career goals. But Benitez, whose Internazionale play Udinese today at home, said: "With the mentality that this group of players has we can go on winning."

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