Mourinho thrilled at ending 2010 with a bang
Jose Mourinho was delighted with the way his team ended 2010 as they thrashed Levante 8-0 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie.
When Mourinho first took charge of Madrid at the start of the season he was often criticised for being too defensive for the club's expansive tastes, but since then his sides have shown more attacking intent and it was certainly on display last night. Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo both bagged hat-tricks, while Mesut Ozil and Pedro Leon added further strikes.
"We thrilled the crowd, but it also thrilled us," Mourinho said. "It was a beautiful and fun game, especially for the younger crowd at the stadium tonight. I'm sorry for Levante's professionals because it is always harsh to lose this way, but I'm happy with the way we ended the year. We've won 20 of our 25 official games, drawn 4 and lost only one. My men played a serious game tonight and that's the only way to earn such a victory."
Mourinho was particularly pleased with the performance of Benzema, who has struggled for much of the season, and remains linked with a move away from the Bernabeu.
"What matters is that Benzema played well," he said. "He ran deep to support his team-mates in the very first minute and, when you start a game like that, the natural thing is to eventually give a great performance. Scoring goals is a matter of small details. He played a good game and the only reason I replaced him was because I wanted (Alvaro) Morata to feel the Bernabeu crowd."
Benzema received a standing ovation as he went off and is aiming for a repeat of the experience soon. "I felt great affection from the standing ovation I received from the crowd," he said. "It was a natural reaction, especially after scoring three goals, but I am nevertheless very happy for it."
Benzema also revealed he will need another hat-trick if he wants a match ball as he and Ronaldo chose to sign last night's and present it to the 18-year-old Morata, who was making only his second appearance, and first at home.
Eyes towards 2011
Madrid have now begun their winter break and do not play again until the 3 January derby against Getafe. They then face Levante in the second leg two days later, and Mourinho revealed the players will receive a small gift as a result of their heroics in the first leg.
"Before the game start, my players asked me if I would allow them to spend the night of 5 January at home with their families if we won 4-0," he said. "I told them we would travel on the day of the match if we got six. So we will travel on the day of the match, not as a sign of disrespect to our opponents - we drew our league game there - but because we feel it is important to have that night at home."
Mourinho, in buoyant mood after such a big win, also denied reports of a rift with Real director general Jorge Valdano, insisting he planned to see out his four-year contract. "I have no personal problems with anybody," he said. "I think it's natural to have occasional differences of opinion at a club with so many people working in it. I have no personal problems with anybody."