REAL MADRID | KARANKA
"Within three minutes, the press had circulated the team list"
Aitor Karanka spoke on La Sexta’s ‘Jugones’ programme about his relationship with Casillas: “Our friendship soured towards the end”.
Relegating Casillas to the bench: “We thought long and hard about it, we know who he is and we know that he is not just any old player... When you make a decision like that, you do so accepting all of the consequences - but always thinking about what is best for the team. At that point, we decided that he needed to be doing things better. I don’t know if he took it well or not but he has played alongside the likes of [Fernando] Hierro, [Manolo] Sanchis, Raúl... and so he should have understood. I was his friend but now we don’t have the same relationship as before. During the years I spent as part of the coaching staff, and particularly towards the end, our relationship wasn’t so good. Now Ancelotti is in charge and has decided that Diego López is the better of the two and has him as his first choice”.
Iker’s phone call to Xavi: “Historically, it’s something that has never ever happened before – players calling others from a rival club to call a truce. During the past three seasons there were some games in which the kicks were flying in from both sides but I don’t remember anyone talking about it affecting unity within the national team”.
Leaks to the press: “Someone told me that they thought it was me, insinuating that it had to be me doing it as a favour and that’s why the press treated me well. We had convened at the team hotel, got on the team bus and within three minutes, some sections of the media already had the team list and line-up – sometimes that happened before a very important game. Even after extremely private meetings – meetings between two people... and that is surprising”.
Current relationship with the players: “I’m still in touch with one or two players. I haven’t been too surprised by what has happened, it’s kind of what I expected”.
Sergio Ramos: “He’s the best centre-back in the world and he could be even better but... he’s Sergio... Sometimes he can be a bit too overconfident and that stops him from being an even better player. However, he scored a penalty, Panenka-style not long after being criticized for missing one against Bayern Munich; scoring that penalty made him feel stronger. Iker and Sergio are the leaders within the dressing room; they’re the ones who stand up when the going gets tough”.
Cristiano Ronaldo: “It’s the same thing – sometimes, the coaching staff want a player to give more – and we don’t ask just for the sake of it. With Cristiano, you can see that he is capable of much more. The coach was very clear that nobody, under any circumstances, is ever above the team – whoever they might be”.
Xabi Alonso: “He seems to have returned to form after being out injured; he’s full of energy and won back his place in the side, playing where he feels comfortable. I’d love to have him on board – as a player, as my assistant... whatever role he fancies”.
Arbeloa: “Within the squad, he was the one who bore the brunt of the criticism. He’s an incredible professional. Some of the things that others have said about him – such as how could a player like him have won a World Cup... it’s laughable”.