Real Fans and Players Back Mourinho Over Eye-Poke
Real Madrid fans and players have showered down messages of support for coach Jose Mourinho as he faces an inquiry for jabbing his finger into a rival's eye.
Mourinho's eye-poke in the final moments of Real Madrid's Super Cup loss to Barcelona on August 17 made front pages and led the Spanish Football Federation to open a disciplinary inquiry.
But fans and players appeared to forgive him.
"Mou, your finger shows us the way," read one of the huge banners of support filling the Bernabeu as Real Madrid beat Galatasaray 2-1 on Wednesday night to take the Santiago Bernabeu Trophy.
"Being a Madrid fan means not turning the other cheek. Thank you Mou!"; "Mou, our support is unbreakable!"; "The Special One, we are with you", "Let's see which wise guy puts his eye on Mou's finger again," they read.
Players too backed their boss.
"Mourinho has the full support of the squad," Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said after the game in comments that were also published on the team's website.
"He leads this group of players. We're ready to do whatever he wants. He will always have our support, just like we have his," he said.
Argentine winger Angel di Maria said: "The incidents of previous games are now in the past. People like to live football."
Fellow winger Jose Callejon added: "I believe everyone, fans and players alike, support Mourinho. That's clear."
The bad feeling between Real Madrid and Barcelona boiled over at the end of their match in the Nou Camp, which Barcelona won 3-2, giving them a 5-4 aggregate victory and the Super Cup trophy.
As players scrapped on the field, television pictures showed Mourinho walking over to Pep Guardiola's assistant Tito Vilanova and poking him in the eye.
Mourinho later issued a letter apologizing for his behavior to Madrid fans but to no-one else.
"I wish to apologize to Madridistas, and only to them, for my attitude in our last game. Some people are better adapted to the hypocrisy in football than I am, and they hide their faces and speak in whispers deep inside tunnels," Mourinho charged.
"I'm not learning to be a hypocrite, and I don't want to."
The Madrid-based sporting press said the outpouring of support from fans showed they more than forgave him.
"There were many banners, real banners. Some were the perfectly made ones you see sometimes which make you suspect the hand of the club is there. But there were many real, home made ones," said a commentary in Madrid-based sports daily AS.
"The fans of the Bernabeu love Mourinho, there is no doubt. They don't reproach him for the eye poke, they buy the theory of hypocrisy, they have had enough of the 'goodness' of Barcelona, and they trust him to turn the situation around," said the columnist, Alfredo Relano.
"Barca has been converted into such an obsession that the ends justify the means. New times, new Madrid. I don't like it, but that's the way it is," he wrote.