Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said Monday he was happy to take flak if it means he has managed to motivate his players rather than sit back and enjoy cordial relations with them.
"As a coach I prefer to draw criticism for my aggressive style in a press conference because I try to play on the hurt pride of my players rather than to be politically correct and continue to lose," said Mourinho, who is determined to knock leaders Barcelona off their perch in La Liga but also deliver European glory.
Real have made a slow start to the league campaign and find themselves eight points adrift of Barça after two early defeats. But he feels that their last-gasp UEFA Champions League pool win over Manchester City and a draw at the Nou Camp has indicated that things are looking up. "We are still eight points off the pace but the team came out [of those matches] stronger."
Mourinho did not, meanwhile, refer to injury-hit pair Coentrao of Portugal, who is out for a month after suffering a groin injury in the weekend loss to Russia, and Brazilian Marcelo, sidelined for three months, which will leave Real Madrid without a natural left back in the coming weeks.
The coach has several times in recent months spoken of how one day he will return to England - he hopes after becoming the first man to win the Champions League with three clubs if he can end Real's decade-long drought.
But he says for now he is is happy in Madrid - even if he took aim at "pseudo-supporters" - code for constant critics - of the club.
"I think I am appreciated. Clearly not by everybody, which is normal. I continue to think there are pseudo-supporters, but the dyed-in-the-wool Madrileno, the one with the scarf round his neck, the ones you meet in the street - I feel I have their confidence," said the man nicknamed "The Special One."