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Mourinho shoulders the blame for early season malaise in side's ranks

REAL Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has accepted responsibility for his side's awful start to their league season which has already seen them fall eight points behind rivals Barcelona after just four games.

The Spanish champions get their Champions League campaign under way against Manchester City this evening and after criticising some of his players' concentration levels after 1-0 defeat to Sevilla on Saturday, Mourinho believes his squad must put their success from last year behind them and concentrate on the season ahead.

He said: "I don't believe I have created doubts. The principal person responsible is me. When my teams win, we win together, and when we lose, I am the one responsible.

"Before losing to Sevilla I said to the players what I then said in the press conference. For this reason it is not a criticism but a conviction. I said it to them before the game.

"Football is about today and tomorrow, not yesterday. I haven't been able to keep my players motivated and concentrated at the top level and that is my fault."

Fabio Coentrao and Luka Modric should come into the side for Marcelo and Mesut Ozil. And Mourinho said he believed his players would find their sense of team again for the most important game of the season so far.

He said: "My conviction is that tomorrow we will have a team. A solid, compact team that understands what the word team means. We might lack a bit of creativity, self-esteem or confidence because it is not easy playing against a side like City after the way we played at the weekend, and I am not going to kid anyone, we were awful."

He praised the job done by City boss Roberto Mancini, although did not miss the opportunity to point out he won the league in his first season at Chelsea. He stopped short of saying City could win the Champions League this season.

"That must come from Roberto, he has to say yes they can win it.

"But we put Manchester City in that group of big rivals for us. First there was (Claudio) Ranieri at Chelsea and then I arrived and we won the first league then came the cups and more titles and then Carlo (Ancelotti) came along and it carried on.

"Manchester City started with Mark Hughes and the spending started. Then Roberto comes in and does good work spending more money. I don't know if they can take it forward from here, but normally things will continue in the same direction and sooner or later they will win the big cup."

Having said that he wanted to take seven players off at half-time at the weekend, yesterday Mourinho had lightened up.

However, he added that a disrupted pre-season due to various members of his squad's international commitments could also be to blame for their slow start.

Midfielder Sami Khedira, meanwhile, believes that the players also have to accept their share of the blame but is looking forward to putting recent disappointments behind them against City.

"The boss has a responsibility, but we also have the responsibility to play well. We have to do better in order to get the best from ourselves.

"What the manager says is right. We played badly in Sevilla. He has the right to speak as he wants about us in public, but (the City game) is a good occasion to rediscover our form and to give 100 per cent."