'Mourinho did not divide Real Madrid'

The club's assistant during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, Aitor Karanka, has slammed suggestions that the Portuguese was loathed within the dressing room
Former Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka has insisted that Jose Mourinho did not divide the team towards the end of his spell in Spain.

The Portuguese spent three years with the Blancos before leaving for Chelsea last summer and, though parts of his time in charge were victorious, rumours were rife towards the end of his time in La Liga that the dressing room was split.

His treatment of Iker Casillas was reported to have gone done poorly among some members of the Madrid squad, exacerbated when he refused to drop Diego Lopez after the club captain returned from injury.

Karanka, who was Mourinho's deputy at the Santiago Bernabeu, played down suggestions that Mourinho dividing his dressing room and insisted the decision to ditch Casillas was thought long and hard about.

"No, I don't think Mourinho divided Madrid," he told Marca. "What he did was try to do the best thing at any given time.

"Everyone talks, for example, about the thing with Iker Casillas. Dropping him wasn't a decision that was taken overnight. We took our time and decided that it was the best thing for the team at that moment.

"I felt mistreated by the press during my time at Madrid. I'd been a footballer for 15 years and I'd been criticised, I'd been praised... However, a lot of the time with Madrid they weren't criticisms, but a lack of respect."

When asked if he felt betrayed by some members of the Madrid squad for the way they turned on Mourinho and him, Karanka stressed that the backlash from players was much smaller than many people have assumed.

"I've been a player and you often realise that you have a longer contract than the manager, that you're going to stay, and you can change your mind," he continued. "But there were also a lot less players than people might think who kicked off.

"You can see it whenever Mourinho plays against a player who we had at Real Madrid. Some people talked about Ozil being against him but, when Ozil played against him, he gave him his shirt.

"The majority of players speak well of Jose in interviews. Some claimed it was almost as if we couldn't go into the dressing room. Another of the many lies."

Karanka left the Spanish capital club at the same time as Mourinho and currently manages English second division club Middlesbrough.