Real Madrid manager José Mourinho has defended his decision to drop defender Pepe from the match against Espanyol during the weekend. Real Madrid could only draw the match 1-1, which led to them seeing Barcelona winning the title without playing a match.

Defender Pepe was dropped from the squad after being critical of Mourinho earlier in the week. Pepe responded to Mourinho’s claims that he would have signed Diego Lopez much earlier in his Real Madrid managerial career. This was seen as an indirect dig towards the captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, whose relationship with Mourinho has been strained in recent months.

Pepe said that Mourinho could be paying more respect to Casillas, who has achieved a lot with Real Madrid. Mourinho responded to this criticism by saying that Pepe was probably speaking out of frustration that he has lost his first-team place to a teenager. The 31-year-old Portuguese defender has not been a first choice at Real Madrid in the last few months. Mourinho has been preferring 19-year-old Varane as his centre back. Mourinho will be leaving Real Madrid after three years in charge of the club. During this time, he managed to win the league title once and the Copa del Rey once.

“It was my decision and that’s it. I’m the coach. I don’t have to justify anything. From the first to the last day I’ll always be the one to decide. Sometimes I can share the reasons for my decisions and sometimes not, I’ll take that option. On Friday you’ll see who plays and it will always be my decision and responsibility. We have alternatives. It is a position in which we have people who are playing well and that’s good. We are obviously sorry that he cannot play in match that everyone wants to play,” said Mourinho.