Jose Mourinho is still 'special', says Xabi Alonso

Football Focus meets Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso insists Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is still "special".

The ex-Chelsea boss is under pressure this season with Real third in La Liga, 16 points behind leaders Barcelona.

There have also been rumours of unrest at the Spanish giants as they prepare to face Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League.

But former Liverpool midfielder Alonso told Football Focus that the Real players still "believe" in Mourinho and want to "fight for him on the pitch".

Mourinho introduced himself as the "special one" when he became Chelsea manager in June 2004 and went on to guide the Blues to their first Premier League crown in 2005.

He also won the League Cup in that first season at Stamford Bridge, defending the Premier League title the following year before winning both the FA Cup and League Cup in 2007.

He left the Premier League club in 2008, eventually joining Inter Milan and steering them to Champions League glory in 2010.

By emulating his 2004 achievement with Porto, he became the third manager ever to win the Champions League with two different teams.

Mourinho then left Serie A to become manager of Real Madrid and helped them become Spanish champions in 2012.

Asked if the 50-year-old Portuguese manager still possessed his talent, Alonso said: "Yes, absolutely.

"You see that Jose has something different.

"The way that he communicates with the players, it's different. The way he empathises with the players as well is different.

"That is why you want to be behind him, why you want to play and fight for him on the pitch. The players, we do believe in him."

Alonso will be part of the Real squad that takes on Manchester United next week, when the teams meet in the first leg at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.