As the Jose Mourinho era at Real Madrid appears to be lurching towards an inevitable conclusion this summer, the verbal fireworks off the pitch are once again making headlines.
After comments were made by both Madrid defender Pepe and Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta concerning Madrid keeper Iker Casillas, the Special One used his press conference today to set the record straight about his tactical choices and his relationship with Casillas.
Since fracturing his hand back in late January, Iker Casillas has not played a single minute for Madrid despite being healthy and available for over a month. Diego Lopez -- who Madrid signed in response to Iker's injury -- has become Mourinho's first choice between the posts and he's stubborn refusal to put Iker back in the mix has led to obvious friction between the two men.
Things boiled over yet again this week when both Pepe and Iniesta made public comments supporting Casillas and questioning Mourinho's thought process concerning his goalkeeping situation. Iniesta was a bit cryptic, saying that he was confused by the situation due to things he's been hearing.
Pepe was a bit more blunt telling Canal Plus:
"There needs to be a little more respect to Iker."
"Iker is well loved. What the coach said was not the most appropriate. Iker is a player who is part of Madrid. He's an institution, both in this club and in Spain."
Today Mourinho shot back, first at Iniesta and Barcelona's failures in the Champions League semifinals.
"Iniesta is free to say what he thinks and what he wants, but I think he should worry more about his club and his teammates, and when his team do not have Messi how different they are, as has been shown in the Champions League semi-finals. I think it is easy to analyse,"
Mourinho was just getting started and quickly turned his attention to his backup goalkeeper.
"Casillas? I have no problem with him. I like Diego Lopez more. And I have that right. Just as if Iker likes Pellegrini more than me. While I'm Real Madrid Coach, Diego Lopez will always play."
"Once and for all, let's see if you can understand. I am a football Coach. I was hired to coach football and a football Coach has the power, among other things, to choose who plays."
"For me, I like Diego Lopez as a goalkeeper more so than Iker Casillas. I am not harming anyone. I like him better."
Mourinho went on to explain that he preferred Lopez's communication with the back line, his footwork and his ability to play the ball in the air.
As for Pepe, Mourinho offered up this witty retort to his defender's statements,
"Pepe's problem has a name - Raphael Varane. I only speak about Pepe because you have asked me about him. I was not going to talk about Pepe.
"Any normal person in this room will know that we are talking about frustration. It is not easy for a man of 31, with status and a past, being replaced by a 19-year-old boy. But it is the law of life."