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Ancelotti running out of friends at Real - and fallout may reach Premier League

The woman in the main entrance of the Bernabeu Stadium two hours before kick-off against Schalke on Tuesday night had come to support Real Madrid but not Carlo Ancelotti. She had the words "Soy de Mou" stitched into her club tracksuit jacket. Mou is a reference to Jose Mourinho and the sentiment was "I'm one of his".

It was not a crude, home-made alteration either; she had asked the manufacturer to sew in the slogan with the same lettering they might use for "European Cup winners 2014-15".

The fan in question may or may not have been one of those who whistled Ancelotti's name a few minutes before kick-off as it was read out to supporters along with the teams. Moments earlier, images of last season's Champions League triumph against Atletico in Lisbon had been shown on the big screens above the pitch. No one seemed to make the connection.

As Ancelotti said on Monday: "When we win it's got nothing to do with me, when we lose it's my fault."

Post-match, after Real had gone through to the Champions League quarter-finals despite a nerve-shredding 4-3 loss, he was even asked if, "Knowing the business as he does, would he be surprised if he was sacked after defeat to Schalke?" He took it all with the usual calm. Sometimes, neutral spectators could be forgiven for wishing he would be a little bit more Mourinho-esque with the answers: "Sack me? Sack me nine months after I won the trophy the club had been trying to claim for 12 years?"

Outside the press room Cristiano Ronaldo had told waiting TV crews that he would not speak to them until the end of the season. He had not enjoyed scoring twice yet still being on the losing side. "Embarrassing" he could be seen saying to team-mate Karim Benzema.

Neither had Ronaldo appreciated being told by captain Iker Casillas to go to the centre circle at the end of the game to applaud the supporters, who promptly got out the white handkerchiefs and voiced their disapproval with some more whistling. Casillas had been at fault for the first and second goals but had saved at the death to prevent Schalke going through.

Gareth Bale wore the face of a man not quite sure what was happening. Against the German side he had his poorest game for a long time. But is it any wonder when his first mistake is always met with such vocal disapproval?

The late-night football radio programmes asked if he should be left out of the Clasico against Barcelona a week on Sunday - a two-thirds majority said yes.

It is hard to understand why Ancelotti does not have his face printed on a huge banner behind the goal as might be the case if he had won the European Cup at Liverpool, for example. And it is difficult to know in how many finals Bale has to score decisive goals before his worth is understood.

Such developments are being closely watched in England. Manchester United wanted Ancelotti to follow David Moyes last year. Ancelotti wants another job in England. United would love to have Ronaldo back at Old Trafford. It would have to be on their terms but it would be coup for the club. United also tried to sign Bale from Tottenham just before he went to Real in 2013.

They have made it known he is not an unrealistic target for the end of the season. Real want David de Gea to replace Casillas and they are encouraged with every passing week that he does not sign a new deal at Old Trafford.

There is just over a month before Real are back in the Champions League. If the draw is kind you can still see them reaching the last four and being back to full strength come the semi-finals. No one is ruling out them being in Berlin for the final. But this mid-season slump will leave its mark whatever happens. The chips have been thrown up in the air and some - clearly, not all but some - could even land back in the Premier League. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent