Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos says Los Blancos players and staff are with Julen Lopetegui “to the death” after Barcelona heaped further pressure on the embattled manager’s job with a 5-1 Clasico defeat on Sunday.
With rumours abound that either Antonio Conte or Castilla coach Santi Solari could be presented as Madrid’s new coach as soon as Monday after the embarrassing loss at the Camp Nou, but Ramos told reporters in the mixed zone that such decisions were completely out of the players’ hands.
“I am not going to change what I say,” Ramos said. “The coaches and the players are with the coach to the death. Results determine a lot whether a coach stays. But it is not our decision, it comes from above. We have heard nothing. So we will stay the side, and let the hours pass, and what must happen will happen.”
Ramos was asked if a dressing room whose focus had wandered in recent months needed a coach with a “stronger hand” to gain more respect from his players, an allusion to former Juventus, Italy and Chelsea coach Conte’s reputation as a taskmaster.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with my coaches,” Ramos said. “You win respect, you don’t impose it. We have won a lot with coaches — you know who they are. Sometimes managing the dressing room is more important than the coach’s technical know-how.”
Asked directly after the match if he feared Lopetegui would pay with the sack, Real midfielder Casemiro said the players who took the pitch should be ultimately responsible for their performances.
“To talk about the coach now, we cannot do that,” the Brazil international said. “It is just the players who are out on the pitch. We are not playing well. We cannot blame the coach, or anybody else. It is the players who go out on the pitch. We are responsible, the players, for what is happening at Real Madrid. We are not playing well, and must work hard to improve.
“This club requires the best, always. It is not attitude, or tactics, it is everything, above all these players on the pitch. We must run more, fight more, show our faces more. At this club, you must give everything, and 5-1 shows what has been happening all season.”