Real Madrid general manager Jorge Valdano played down reports that Coach Jose Mourinho and he were at odds over Mourinho's decision not to play French striker Karim Benzema. Mourinho left the Frenchman on the bench against last-place Almeria, and Real Madrid slumped to a 1-1 tie that dropped it four points behind leader Barcelona.
"I am too long in the tooth to be sent messages in the press," said Mourinho after an unnamed club executive said the coach had created "a split where there was not one before" and Valdano added he hoped "Benzema does not stay on the bench for too long." Real Madrid is hoping to sign a striker on loan as cover for the injured Gonzalo Higuain.
But Valdano claimed his comments were misrepresented, saying, "You have interpreted my words as a message to the coach, and I have done very bad things when it has been something that was never my intention and never intended." Valdano added that Real Madrid will decide this week whether to bring back Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who plays for Hamburg.