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‘Asia tour hurt Real plans’

Lisbon: Real Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz has conceded that the club’s pre-season tour of the far east had hurt preparations for the new season.

“The tour of Asia brought consequences that cannot be ignored,” he said in an interview published in Portuguese daily A Bola on Wednesday.

“But the team has been improving, as has the yield of individual players like Michel Salgado or Luis Figo,” he said.

The nine-time European champions spent three weeks in August in China, Japan and Thailand in an attempt to win over new fans.

The squad played four matches in nine days during its crowd-drawing tour, but many Real fans complained this was not the right preparation for the Spanish champions.

Their concerns where echoed by Real’s French playmaker Zinedine Zidane who said in an interview shortly after the tour that he felt the squad did not work hard enough during their three weeks in Asia.

“After each match, we went to bed late, we got up early and headed for the airport. In these conditions, it was impossible to do real pre-season training,” he said.

Queiroz faced a barrage of media criticism after Real suffered a 2-1 Spanish Super Cup first leg loss to Real Mallorca shortly after returning from the tour. But the Portuguese coach, who joined the club in June redeemed himself after Real Madrid steamrolled past Mallorca 3-0 in the Spanish Super Cup return to secure the trophy.

“This is a game of opinions and passions. What I need to do is make decisions according to my convictions, to do what I think is best for the team” he said.

Queiroz also touched on the controversial transfer of French midfielder Claude Makelele from Real to English Premiership side Chelsea last month for 24 million euros ($26.2 million).

Real sold the player after he went on strike briefly in August to protest Real’s refusal to increase his salary of 1.2 million euros, which he claimed was a fifth of what his teammates Ronaldo, Zidane and David Bechkam earned.

“The way everything happened is not good for football,” Queiroz said. “When a player signs a contract and then does not respect it, that is violating professional and contractual principles.”

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