Real Madrid’s announcement that Zinedine Zidane was returning to replace sacked Santiago Solari on Monday night overshadowed captain Sergio Ramos taking to social media to address a disastrous week endured by the club.
Ramos, via a series of tweets, addressed rumours of dressing room bust-ups with left-back Marcelo and the club president Florentino Perez.
Los Blancos lost to bitter rivals Barcelona twice in four days, the first a 3-0 defeat that sent them out of the Copa del Rey, followed by a 1-0 loss in La Liga that left them 12 points behind their old foes, killing all chances of a late run for the league title.
While those two losses effectively ruled them out of the running for two trophies, there was a chance of a third, in the Champions League, where they held a 2-1 lead over Ajax ahead of the second leg at home.
But a stunning 4-1 loss to the Dutch side meant they crashed out of the competition that always seems to matter the most at Madrid, and brought the feeling that the result was an end of an era, with Real having won the competition a historic three straight times and four times in five seasons from 2013/14 to 2017/18.
That all three of these losses came at home, in the space of a week, added to the growing discontent at the club.
It was after the loss to Ajax that Ramos, who was suspended having admitted to deliberately getting a yellow card in the dying moments in the first leg to miss the second leg and be available for a quarter-final, was reportedly involved in a heated argument with Perez, with the club president supposedly threatening to sack the defender.
Ramos is alleged to have replied that he’d be happy to leave as soon as he was paid whatever he was due over the remainder of his club contract, before angrily reminding Perez of his contributions to Madrid since joining in 2005.
The centre-back was also suspended for Madrid’s most recent game, against Real Valladolid on Sunday, thanks to an accumulation of yellow cards in domestic football, but travelled with the squad for the game in anyway.
On Monday, Ramos decided to address the storm that has engulfed the club – hours before the club made the announcement that Zinedine Zidane was to replace Santiago Solari has manager having overseen a disastrous month.
The 32-year-old admitted that the yellow card in Amsterdam that ruled him out of the second leg against Ajax was a mistake and that he took the blame “200%”, before addressing criticism over his decision to attend that game anyway to film a documentary being made about his career.
But the football world will be most interested in his reaction to reports regarding the dust-ups with Perez and Marcelo. Ramos said the latter, who has been linked with an exit from the club after losing his place in Solari’s first-choice XI, is “like a brother to me”, adding that it was normal for players to confront each other when necessary given the pressure they face.
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As footballers we like to do our talking on the pitch but this season is not turning out that way. Recent events have been disastrous and I’m not hiding. We are not hiding. We the players are primarily responsible and I, as captain, more than anyone. That's why I thought that the most honest way to answer the questions that are circulating around us would be to tackle them directly. Was the yellow card in Amsterdam an error? Absolutely it was an error and I take the blame 200%. Why did you record the documentary? There are certain commitments made and it never remotely went through my head that the game could have turned out as it did. The recording itself was scaled down as the game went on. Did you argue with the President in the dressing room? Dressing room issues are discussed and resolved in the dressing room. There's no problem whatsoever and everybody has the same interest: Real Madrid. Did you address your teammates and criticize them? We always talk and motivate each other in the dressing room and always in a constructive way. Did you have a confrontation with Marcelo? We have exchanges in every training session. It's part of working with pressure. But it’s just an anecdote like so many others that happen from day to day. @Marcelotwelve is like a brother to me. Why did you travel to Valladolid? Because I wanted to be close and support my teammates. What's happening with the coach? It’s a decision that’s not ours to make and in which we never interfere. We have enormous respect for the position and we always support the Real Madrid coach. These reflections are, without doubt, the result of a deeply disappointing season but if success didn’t stop us, we're not going to let defeat stop us. It's our obligation to carry on, to work and to evolve. And to remember that some of us are lucky enough to play for @realmadrid, some of us are lucky enough to form part of its history, but #RealMadrid was, is and will always be #RealMadrid. No one name makes the legend of Real Madrid, but we have all written that legend together. Together we have to work for the future and restore our hope. Madridista Commitment. #HalaMadrid
As for Perez, Ramos said: “Dressing room issues are discussed and resolved in the dressing room. There’s no problem whatsoever and everybody has the same interest: Real Madrid.”
The club captain ended by acknowledging that this has been a “deeply disappointing season” but that he and his team-mates were “lucky enough to play for Real Madrid, lucky enough to form part of the history of Real Madrid”.
“Real Madrid, was, is and will always be Real Madrid, but we have all written that legend together,” he concluded.
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