Ancelotti: Soft touch has won me three Champions League titles

Carlo Ancelotti has shrugged off criticism that he's not firm enough with his Real Madrid players in a press conference.

Recent mixed results for Real Madrid, such as the 1-1 draw with Villarreal in La Liga last weekend, or the derby drubbing suffered against Atletico Madrid, have led sections of the Spanish media to question the methods of manager Carlo Ancelotti.

Indeed, there are suggestions that the Italian needs to show a 'mano duro' (heavier hand) when it comes to dealing with his stellar array of talented players.

However, at his press call on Friday, as reported on Madrid's official website, Ancelotti shrugged aside the criticism by explaining,

"I don't have any problems in this regard," said the former AC Milan coach. "As for taking a heavier hand, I've also a lot of experience and since starting out as a manager, when there's been problems, this theme always surfaces."

As for not being firm enough with his players, Ancelotti was keen to point out: "This soft touch, as everyone seems to be calling it, has won me three Champions League titles."

"I'm used to the criticism. This isn't the first time and it won't be the last time," he added, assuring, "I won't change my way of working, nor lose any of the confidence I have in this team."

Ancelotti also retains full belief that his team can meet the demanding challenges ahead, both in La Liga and the Champions League, acknowledging, "I remain confident in the team.

"The important time of the season is coming up on us now, when every game has even more importance. We're top of La Liga and in a good position in the Champions League.

"I have total confidence in my team, which won many titles last season and did very well. I'm convinced we'll finish the season well."

Any softness aside, Madrid certainly face a tough test of their title credentials this Saturday, when they take on Athletic Club Bilbao at San Mames.

"Winning there is always difficult, we'll have to make a massive effort to take the three points." Ancelotti underlined, suggesting, "Tomorrow we need to get ourselves off to a good start. It's going to be a very intense game, because Athletic pressure opponents very well."

Inevitably and following reports that Danilo has agreed terms with Madrid, gathered journalists were keen to get the thoughts of Ancelotti on this move, although the Italian was coy about going into any detail, simply suggesting, "I know practically all the top players in Europe, because I follow all the leagues. I know Danilo well and there's nothing more I can say."

Refusing to confirm or deny the FC Porto player has a deal in place, he added, "We're not thinking about signings at this moment. I also like a lot of other players around Europe."

"There's no need for me to speak with Arbeloa or Carvajal over this matter," added Ancelotti. "They're used to not listening to rumours like these, which are normal at this stage of the season."

Madrid are currently two points clear of Barcelona in the title race and can temporarily extend their advantage to five with a win at San Mames, before the Catalan side play catch-up when they take on Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.

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