- Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho says Pepe's criticism of him borne out of frustration
- Portuguese defender has lost his place in Real Madrid side to youngster Rafael Varane
- Mourinho tells reporters: "Pepe's problem is easy to analyze. His name is Varane."
- Chelsea coach Rafa Benitez hints Mourinho will take over from him shortly
If Jose Mourinho's time at Real Madrid is nearing an end then he seems determined not to go quietly.
The outspoken Portuguese coach's time at the Spanish giants -- one of the world's biggest soccer clubs -- has been adorned with three major trophies but also with a healthy dose of controversy.
He has had to fend off regular reports of dressing room unrest and a rift with one of Real's key players, goalkeeper Iker Casillas, the World Cup-winning captain of Spain.
The 50-year-old has been strongly linked with a return to the English Premier League and former club Chelsea, with the current coach of the London-based club hinting on Tuesday Mourinho is set to replace him.
But for the time being, Mourinho remains in situ at Real and used his latest press conference to hit back at defender Pepe, who had criticized his treatment of the benched Casillas in the press.
Pepe has lost his place in the side to young French defender Rafael Varane in recent weeks.
Mourinho, in typically bullish mood, told reporters: "Pepe's problem is easy to analyze. His name is Varane. You don't have to be a genius, just a normal guy like me to understand that we're talking about frustration.
"It's not easy for a player to see how he's outperformed by a 19 year-old kid, but the kid is fantastic. I had the courage to play him and the problem is very simple. Pepe's life as an athlete has changed.
"He was permanent starter and it is also one of my decisions that didn't lead to a public discussion. I understand his frustration perfectly, and that it translated into what he said.
"Things are clear and I have no issue with him. It's not an easy situation. I have to try to be honest and most people think that Real Madrid's defensive future is Varane and Ramos."
Mourinho's decision to drop Casillas, who has been with Real his entire career and is a poster boy to the club's many fans, has been met with many questions.
After Casillas picked up an injury in January, Mourinho signed Sevilla's Diego Lopez, and continued to play him even after Casillas regained full fitness.
It led to much criticism of the coach, who reiterated on Tuesday that Lopez's style of goalkeeping was more to his liking.
"I like Diego Lopez as a goalkeeper more than Casillas," he explained. "It's not personal, I just like him more. I like a goalkeeper that comes out and dominates the airspace and plays with his feet.
"Iker is fantastic under the posts and I can also say that he likes a coach like (Spanish national team coach) Vicente Del Bosque or with a different profile more.
"One's more offensive, the other defensive. I have the right to say this and with me, in normal conditions, Diego Lopez is going to play. People can say what they want, I accept that but please respect a coach who decides who plays."
Mourinho's time at the Bernabeu has been mixed. He has won one La Liga title, last season, but looks set to miss out to archrivals Barcelona this time around.
His quest to win the European Champions League for a third time in his career has also faltered. Recently, his side were beaten 4-3 on aggregate by German club Borussia Dortmund at the semifinal stage.
Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to return to England with media reports claiming he has already negotiated a return to Chelsea at the end of the season.
His previous spell in charge saw him lead the club to their first top flight title for 55 years. He won five trophies in his three seasons in London.
Only last week he said, "I know I am loved by some clubs, especially one," which was widely regarded as confirmation of his desire to once again coach at Stamford Bridge.
On Tuesday Chelsea's current manager, Rafael Benitez, confirmed he would be leaving at the end of the season and added: "The next year there will be another manager. I think everybody knows who will be here."
Mourinho, who has a contract at Real until 2016, revealed he's considered remaining at Real and refuted claims that is to do with a dispute over his severance package.
Reports in Spain and the UK claim whoever breaks their agreement will owe the other party $26 million. "I've considered staying. The fans think what you, the press, sell them," he said.
"To make things clear I'll tell you that I'll be paid until my last working day here. I don't want even one euro more the day I decide that I'm not going to continue."