MADRID — Jose Mourinho shrugged off the first public outcry by Real Madrid fans against him, saying the whistling during the 4-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday comes with the job at a club where "they jeer the biggest names in football."
Four days after Madrid lost yet again under him to fierce rival Barcelona, the Portuguese coach was repeatedly jeered despite the team collecting its 23rd win from 25 games to maintain a five-point lead over Barcelona atop the Spanish league standings.
"(Zinedine) Zidane was also whistled here. Ronaldo was whistled here. Cristiano Ronaldo, a Ballon d'Or winner, was whistled here. Why can't I be whistled here?" Mourinho said. "Zidane responded with his football, Ronaldo the same. Cristiano keeps doing it, I keep working.
Mourinho's arrival at the Bernabeu was celebrated after leading Inter Milan to the Champions League title in 2010, and he said if he'd been heckled at a club where it was not normal then he would be concerned.
"If they jeered me at a club where they don't normally jeer anybody, then I may be worried. But here, where they jeer the biggest names in football, it's not a problem," Mourinho said. "It never happened before at Porto, at Chelsea or at Inter. There is a first for everything."
Fans began to show their discontent over his tactics toward the end of the 2-1 loss to Barcelona in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on Wednesday — the club's ninth defeat in 13 matches against its biggest rival. The second leg is on Wednesday.
Sports daily Marca reported earlier Sunday that most of the squad is unhappy that several of the Spanish players had aired grievances with Mourinho, who reportedly did not take kindly to the criticism.
Specifically, Mourinho and defender Sergio Ramos reportedly disagreed about a number of issues related to the team.
"What Sergio wanted to say was that if we fail we are all responsible, the players and the coaches," Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa said. "Whistles against Mou are whistles against us, it's unfair to put all the blame on him for last Wednesday. If anyone deserves the whistles, it's us."
Mourinho refused to comment on the allegations despite being asked several times in his post-match news conference, with the Madrid media's absolute support for him having now dipped following the defeat to Barcelona.
"I'm a football professional who will defend Real Madrid with dignity," Mourinho said. "They are never going to have any problem with me, my relation with the club's board is fantastic."
Tensions also showed in the player ranks against Bilbao, with Ronaldo unhappy at being shoved by Xabi Alonso after arguing with the referee about a 28th-minute booking.
Madrid fullback Marcelo tried to downplay any friction.
"I think you could see on the field there's nothing to that," he said. "If there was division that would have affected us, and today you could see that wasn't the case."