Karanka: Real 'ideal place' for Ronaldo
Assistant coach Aitor Karanka said Real Madrid is the "ideal place" for Cristiano Ronaldo when asked to decipher the forward's animated celebration of his goal in Wednesday's 6-2 La Liga win against Malaga.
Ronaldo had an eventful evening at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, first winning an early penalty which saw Malaga's Sergio Sanchez sent off, but then seeing his spot-kick saved by visiting keeper Willy Caballero. The Portuguese was soon on the scoresheet however, converting a close-range free kick after Caballero had been controversially penalised for handling a back-pass.
The second half was less momentous for Ronaldo, but still saw him drawing another red card for Malaga's Martin Demichelis, and picking up a yellow himself for diving theatrically in the opposition area.
All this came after a day in which the former Manchester United man had been heavily linked with a summer return to Old Trafford, and as such attention was focused on his goal celebration, the 200th in less than four seasons with Madrid. After ramming the ball high to the net, he ran away gesturing angrily at himself, the ground, the fans and the home bench. Some amateur lip-readers claimed he had shouted "I am here, I am here", while others reported "This is me, this is me".
At the post-game press conference, Jose Mourinho's No. 2 said there had been nothing strange about the celebration and that Ronaldo and Madrid were an ideal match.
"He and Real Madrid are good for each other," Karanka said. "He will keep getting better. This is the ideal place for him, and for Real Madrid it is great to have him. He always looks at the bench when he scores. I would have been surprised if he had done something else."
Ronaldo's fellow Portuguese Pepe played no role at all in the game, having been dropped from the squad after the player criticised Mourinho, who responded by suggesting the comments were those of an older player frustrated at having his place taken by someone younger.
Karanka suggested – a bit unbelievably given Madrid Castilla defender Fabinho was called in to make up the numbers - that Pepe's absence from the matchday squad had been solely due to footballing reasons, and that journalists who suggested otherwise were being hypocritical.
"Everyone can see the matches and performances of [Raphael] Varane," he said. "Before you were all killing Pepe, saying that he was not a Real Madrid player, and now you are all defending him. I know the type of player that Pepe is and I still think the same about him. Matchday squads and line-ups are made based on players' performances on the field, and always so that the team can win."